A drunk dial goes viral

A rambling voice-mail takes off online: Is it a wicked slice of life, or a weird marketing gimmick?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Published March 31, 2011 6:06PM (EDT)

Consider it a friendly reminder: Do not even consider the Jagermeister until you turn off your phone, hand it to a trusted friend, and perhaps lose it altogether. Otherwise, you may wind up as the vocal star of a highly entertaining, typographically charming and much-forwarded video.

"Love at first sight" first popped up on YouTube user mixtapevolumeone's channel this weekend, with the introduction "I got this message late Friday night. BTW - I didn't go out that night." In the space of two colorfully transcribed minutes and 44 seconds, a misdialing admirer unspools a monologue of giggly longing and inability to come up with words that start with the letter J. Little is known of its mysterious intended recipient, except that his name is Ryan, he wears really cute shirts, has an interest in yo-yos, and there is a seriously messed-up lady named Dominic waiting for him at Jamba Juice. Or possibly eBay.

Whatever its provenance, the clip, which was initially posted on a site self-explanatorily called Bro Stories, is a slice of hilarious, cringe-worthy perfection. The rambling, the oversharing of one's admiration and sense of "chemistry," the total obliviousness to clues like the other person's abrupt, "urgent" departure earlier in the evening: They'll be all-too-familiar to anyone who's ever received or, just as likely, left such a valiantly dreadful declaration of inebriation. "Can't wait to hear from you soooooon!"

Was Mr. Mixtapevolumeone being a jerk when he released the message of an obviously impaired person? Or was he, as the Village Voice's Joe Coscarelli reasonably speculated, really a secret shill in an insidious campaign for Jamba Juice?  Dammit, Butt Cam and Times Square hack,  you've made us have to question everything.

Somewhere, there may really be a lonely lady still nursing the mother of all hangovers and wondering if Ryan ever got her message. She may even be congratulating herself that he apparently didn't. She may be praying that nobody she knows recognizes her and her fondness for yo-yos. As several YouTube commenters noted, apparently this poor girl had no kind friend to stop her from making such a royal ass of herself. And there is something pretty sad about her frank entreaty to "Email me. IM me. Fax me…. I'm available. And single. You know." Or the mysterious Dominic may be just fine, collecting a check for her performance.

It worth noting that in a world where "revenge porn" is a genre and Twitter wars are a regular sport, Dominic gets off relatively unscathed. Mixtapevolumeone may be a bro with a code of honor, one who could easily have revealed more identifying details, including the phone number of the caller, but chose not to. Or he may not exist at all. Either way, it's Dominic, the disembodied voice on the Internet, who emerges as not just painfully funny but genuinely sympathetic. And with her name and face an enigma, everyone who's ever wished that their email and voice mail were automatically disabled after a few drinks can probably hear a little of themselves in her happy-hour-gone-wrong voice -- even if doesn't make them feel like reaching for a smoothie.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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