We sketched out our plan: when Jon got home I was to casually mention that the day before I'd been approached at the grocery by a woman who claimed to know him, one "Delores Davoli," (my sister came up with the name) and--very odd indeed--she had called the house asking for him while he'd been out smoking his cigar.
He fell for it. He fell for it hard, immediately grabbing the house phone and scrolling through the list of recent callers, and then dialing a number. This was entirely unexpected. I had to pretend to be engrossed in putting pots away in a lower cupboard in order to hide my face, and when I heard Jon say, "Hello, someone called me from this number?" I had to insert most of my upper body into the pot cupboard to conceal my laughter. Things were not going as planned.
Jon hung up the phone in disgust. "That was 'Jerry,'" he said. "He says he didn't call us. Who the hell is Jerry?" I was asking myself the same question, and as soon as I had the opportunity, I scrolled through the caller ID list. There were no unfamiliar numbers on it, but there were several calls from Jon's own cell phone. I retrieved the last number dialed--"Jerry's" number. It was the same as Jon's cell phone, except for one changed digit. Incredulous, I realizedv that Jon had seen his own cell phone number in the caller ID list, failed to recognize it (it's identified merely as "Virginia call") and then dialed it wrong, getting "Jerry" totally at random. "Maybe Jerry is Delores' husband," I suggested.
Jon's blunder with the phone seemed to be telling us that the Universe WANTED us to prank him. Quietly gloating, my sister and I decided that Delores needed a Facebook page. We created her account using images of a woman that we found on the internet. We decided she should be about four years older than Jon and we made her a graduate of a suitably random college--Alfred University--and Facebook obligingly gave us a list of people she might know. Delores friended them all.
The next morning "Delores" logged into Facebook and got a stern message telling her that she had been friending people she didn't really know. Nevertheless, she now had several "friends," and--most alarming--a personal message from someone. I couldn't bear to read it without my sister, and we needed to play it cool for a while anyway, to give our prank some authenticity. We didn't mention Delores during the course of the day.
That evening, my sister and I decided it was high time that Delores make a friend request to Jon. We then read the message Delores got from one of her former "classmates":
Hey Delores, I think I remember you. Are you the person who approached me at that convention last month? I'm not sure why you are trying to friend me now on Facebook. If there's anything I can do for you, let me know. Cheers.
I was appalled. Delores appeared to have developed a life of her own. A little while later, Jon checked his Facebook and yelled out with alarm when he saw the request from Delores. He called one of his friends to ask if he'd ever heard of this woman. "Maybe her family owns that restaurant," I suggested. "you know, Davoli's, up on 29 North." (There is no such restaurant.) Jon called a different friend, "Have you ever eaten at Davoli's?" he demanded. "This woman who works there is stalking me."
We suggest he send her a message. I went quietly upstairs to my laptop to reply. Jon asked Delores how he knew her. Delores replied that she had attended one of his mindfulness seminars and that he had touched her deeply. Jon responded by saying that he had spoken to Jerry the other night--her husband? Delores said that, alas, Jerry was her husband but she wished he wasn't. Jon responded pointedly that he was married. Delores said, "I do not like you wife...." At which point Jon became convinced that Delores was out to kill me. Another unforeseen circumstance was that Ian was now worried about Delores, this clearly unstable woman who might do herself harm when she realized her obsession with Jon was to come to nothing. Our joke had gone too far. I sent my sister a text message telling her that we ought to come clean, which we did to everyone's amusement and relief. I think my sister's husband had suspected all along that Delores was a fake, but stayed silent to humor us.
I closed Delores' facebook account--she had acquired a few more friends by this time--and mentally apologized to the man who'd sent her the message.