[The telephone rings] RRRRRINNGGG! RRRRRINNGGG!
Guy answering his phone: “Hello?”
Telephone Announcer: “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, INTRODUCING THE WORLD’S GREATEST TELEPHONE MAGICIAN. And now, for your listening amusement and AMAZEMENT, it’s the one, the only, THE GREAT PHONINI!”
Guy: “Excuse me? Who’s calling?”
The GREAT PHONINI: Thank you very much for coming. And now –
Guy: “What? I didn’t come anywhere. I’m in my living room. Is this Barney? What’s up, buddy?
PHONINI: “It’s not Barney. It is I, the GREAT PHO-NI-NI!! And you are about to hear some magical miracles like you’ve never heard before. Now, close your eyes and – “
Guy: “Um, hold on a minute. Did you just say, ‘you’re about to HEAR some magic?’ Is this Barney? You really had me going there for a minute.”
PHONINI: “Like I said, it is not Barney. It is I, the GREAT PHO-NI-NI. Imagine for a minute that you can see this gorgeous buxom blond woman standing beside me. This is my incredibly talented – and sexy – assistant, Gretchen.”
Guy: “Um, sure, Barney, I mean, All Great and Powerful Oz.”
PHONINI: “This isn’t the Wizard of Oz. I’m the GREAT PHONINI, the world’s greatest telephone magician. If you could see her, I am sure you’d agree that Gretchen is quite stunning.”
PHONINI: “This isn’t the Wizard of Oz. I’m the GREAT PHONINI, the world’s greatest telephone magician. If you could see her, I am sure you’d agree that Gretchen is quite stunning. Gretchen, will you please enter this giant box before you?” [He pauses explaining that Gretchen needs time to get situated in the box.] “Very good. Caller, notice how I open the box and there are no hidden compartments of any kind. Now, if you will count to three… “
Guy: “Seriously? Okay. This better not be a weird sales pitch from T-Mobile. I told them four times now I am not interested in their upgrade package. Okay, ‘1, 2, 3.’ “
PHONINI: “Abracadabra! As you can hear, Gretchen is gone. Hard to believe, right?”
Guy: “You got that right. Dude, you realize we’re on the fricking phone, right? I can’t see a thing. You expect me just to believe you that she’s magically vanished? How about we switch to FACETIME so I can see?”
PHONINI: “I don’t have Facetime. My flip phone can only make audio calls. But trust me. If you could have seen what just happened, you’d be blown away. My lovely assistant is gone. But would you like me to bring her back?”
Guy: “Back? Back from where? Next to you on your couch? But what the heck. I’ll play along. Sure. Amaze me. Please, Lord, bring her back. Whatever.”
PHONINI: “I will now say the magic words: Hocus Pocus. And voila, Gretchen’s back. ‘Gretchen, did you miss me?’ She’s nodding yes.”
Guy: “Okay, who is this really? And if you really are the GREAT PHONINI, how do you expect me to believe you made Gretchen disappear. Let me guess. Gretchen is your basset hound, and you just threw her a ball to make her momentarily disappear, until she came back with the ball, Am I right?”
PHONINI: “You’ll just have to trust me. Now for my next incredible feat, listen as Gretchen ties me up in unbreakable chains and a straitjacket. ‘Now, Gretchen, make it as tight as possible, dear.’ [There is a pause and there are sounds of grunting and clanking chains in the background.] There, I’m completely tied up. And now Gretchen has attached my chains to a fifteen-foot high crane. [Grunting and breathing heavily] Now I’m upside down, [more grunts] hovering precariously over a steaming cauldron of boiling oil that is over 1,000 degrees.”
Guy: “Hmm. Let me guess. In a minute you’re going to tell me that you somehow escaped from your terrifying predicament miraculously within seconds of the crane lowering you into the boiling oil.”
PHONINI: “How did you know? Have I called you before? Anyway, just watch, I mean listen. [Over the phone, we hear more loud grunting and clanking until finally, PHONINI coughs and then whispers in an exhausted voice.] “Wow, that was close. For a moment there, I thought I was going to meet my maker.”
Guy: “And who is your maker? T-Mobile? How’d you get my phone number anyway? Was that magic, too?”
PHONINI: “And now for a mystifying card trick. Caller, pick a card, any card.”
Guy: “Why are you saying, ‘caller?’ You called ME, remember?”
PHONINI: “Have you chosen your card? Write it down on a piece of paper.”
Guy: “This is ridiculous.”
PHONINI: “Have you written it down, sir?”
Guy [grabs a piece of paper and writes down the four of clubs]: “Okay, okay. I’ve written it down.”
PHONINI: “Very good, my fine chap. Is this your card?
Guy: Is WHAT my card? I can’t see what you’re holding.
PHONINI: Oh, right. My bad. Well, then. Would your card by any chance be the seven of hearts?”
Guy: “Nope. Very impressive.”
PHONINI: “Oh dear. Well then, surely it must have been the Jack of Spades.”
Guy: Strike two, El PHONINI.”
PHONINI: “My, this is quite embarrassing. My good fellow, would you mind going to your refrigerator and opening the door?”
Guy: “Dude, you’re starting to creep me out. If this is Barney, you really need to stop your day drinking, buddy. Okay, I’m at my fridge and I’ve opened the door.”
PHONINI: Excellent. Now, open the crisper drawer and grab that orange sitting there.”
Guy: “Wait, what? How did you know I have an orange in my fridge?”
PHONINI: “Lucky guess.“
Guy: “Yeah, yeah. Seriously, how did you know I had an orange there? Is T-Mobile bugging my house with hidden web cams?”
PHONINI: “Now, take a sharp-edged knife and slice your orange in half.”
Guy: “You know, I’m this close to calling the cops on you. But okay, here goes.” [Guy grabs a knife and slices the orange down the middle.]
PHONINI: “Please peel the cover off the orange. Tell me, what do you see?”
Guy [peels the cover off, as instructed]: “What the f*ck? There’s a card inside the cover of my orange.”
PHONINI: “Would you mind sharing what card appears?”
Guy: “How in the HELL did you do that!!!”
PHONINI: “What, pray tell, is the card you have found, sir?”
Guy [thunderstruck with confusion]: “It’s the four of clubs. That’s my card! THAT’S MY CARD!! How did you do that???!!!”
PHONINI: “It’s magic. Thank you for being a great audience. And now for my very final act, I will make myself disappear.”
And in a flash, the GREAT PHONINI vanished. The line was dead.
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