It’s the last day of February you guys, and I think you deserve something special. So here we go gang. It’s time for the phone book story.
In November of 2015 I came home from work to find a phone book outside my apartment door. I stepped over it, because I don’t need a bigger, less convenient version of my phone, and I’m tall enough to reach the dinner table on my own. My girlfriend and I kept stepping over that phone book day after day, and eventually we kind of forgot about it. Until one day, when something was different.
The phone book was slightly tilted, and pushed just a little closer to the door. At first I thought it was a fluke, that someone had been walking past and accidentally kicked it. But over the next few months, every few days the book would move. I started taking pictures, cataloging the transit. The book would move from angle to angle, sometimes touching the door, sometimes slightly away. The biggest power move was when the book was put completely flush in the left corner. I saw that and my internal monologue went full Samuel L Jackson. “This muthafucka,” I said to myself. The changes started happening more and more frequently, and I kept not taking it inside. I also kept taking pictures.
One day when I was walking out, something caught my eye. As I stepped over the phone book expertly placed in my path, I saw the fire extinguisher container on the wall. And atop that fire extinguisher was ANOTHER phone book. This one was a little smaller, but it was unmistakably a phone book. I knew it because it had “phone book” written on the cover. So it was pretty clear. Obviously I took a picture of this second phone book, then went about my life. Until a week later . . . another change.
I got home from work to see an empty space in front of my door. The phone book was gone. Missing. Vanished. Other words that mean it wasn’t there. I looked around frantically, and suddenly saw the phone book the only place it could possibly be . . . on top of the other phone book, on the fire extinguisher container. There’s gotta be a better word for what that is. I might be better at figuring out what it was if I wasn’t whiskey drunk and watching season 3 of Girl Meets World. How could they cancel this show? Seriously, what the hell?
So for two days, the phone books sit on top of the fire extinguisher container. Cabinet. That’s the word I was looking for, and it’s just embarrassing enough that I’m not going to change all the times I’ve talked about it so far. That way maybe I’ll learn something from this experience. Like “maybe don’t drink on weeknights,” or “think before you type.” In reality, I’m not going to change or learn anything, that’s part of my charm.
On the third day, maintenance painted the hallway in my apartment building, and like savages they didn’t prop the door open. The fumes were so bad I nearly passed out. And in that moment the books spoke to me. Like, they really spoke to me. I told you, I was in a small hallway full of paint fumes. I wasn’t in the best head space. Those phone books said to me “Now’s our time to shine, Dan!” I felt like they were being a little more familiar than was appropriate, first names are a bit much when we’ve never been properly introduced. But despite the fumes and what was probably a hallucination, I knew the phone books were right. This was their moment.
I used those two phone books to prop open the door to my hallway. One at the top hinge, one at the bottom. The door was propped, and the fumes could escape. That door stayed propped open all night, and was still propped open the next day. When I got home, the door wasn’t propped anymore, and the books were sitting next to the door, ragged and torn. I took a picture of my beaten down soldiers and told them to rest easy.
And the next day, like smoke, they were gone. I really hope you read that like in The Usual Suspects. If not, it probably didn’t have the gravitas it deserved. But you get the picture. The phone books had their moment of significance, their B-Rabbit from 8 Mile final battle, they had their Michael Jordan stretch for the basket. And then, like a magical guide . . . you know what? I think that’s enough references in one paragraph. I didn’t know I had a pop culture reference limit, but I found it.
The books were gone, their job was done. And one month later, a tornado ripped the roof off of my home. Those phone books were holding back the forces of nature for 9 months. And for that, I thank them. You can see the saga of the phone books on my Instagram, @danwestcomedy. That’s all for this special edition of the Dan West Blog. There will still be the usual weekly pop culture blog later this week. Love and kisses!
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