This weekend I found myself socializing with a group of close friends and colleagues, one of whom had Charlie Sheen's phone number. You know where this is going.
Through whatever strange channels, Deadspin had acquired Sheen's cell phone number. While obviously the friendly competition between websites in our company dictated that those digits would not be shared with me, it didn't stop a mutual friend from grabbing the number and scampering off to a quiet place where she could call. Because, apparently, we're a bunch of fifth graders.
My friend, calling from her phone, turned on her speakerphone. The call went to his voicemail ("If you leave it, I'll retrieve it!"), and she froze — omgwhatdowedo! Was this really a question? I didn't think so, and in a slightly tipsy fit of immature braggadocio, I grabbed the phone and left a voicemail in my best take-me-home-to-meet-your-mom voice:
"Hi Charlie, my name is Jessica Coen. I heard Rachel left and that you may have a goddess opening at Sober Valley Ranch. I'd love to discuss that with you! My number is 646-xxx-xxxx."
Let me acknowledge that this was pretty stupid. If we want to get serious about it (and we should at least for a moment, since I'm now publishing this weird account), I misrepresented myself, plain and simple. I didn't say that I was a writer or a journalist or an editor or a media person of any sort. But believe it or not, I wasn't really being any of those things at that moment. It was Saturday night, one of the rare times I allow myself to shut off. And so I found myself in the midst of a childish scene, like we were calling a (particularly scary) boy from a sleepover. The only thing missing was the zit stickers. And this childishness just added another layer of stupidity to the situation: the man is in the midst of a serious — and seriously unsettling — meltdown. He's also got a very unpleasant and violent history with women, as discussed here and elsewhere. Something I should have kept in mind.
But…whatever. That's not what happened. I left a dumb message. Shit happens. If anyone can understand that, it's Charlie Sheen.
Never, ever did I think he would call me back. But he did. The next day, actually. Bright and early on Sunday morning around 11:30 (which means it was an early morning — or maybe a very late night — at "Sober" Valley Ranch). Actually, Sheen called my friend back, as it was her phone from which we'd made the call. She didn't answer, seeing as the idea of Sheen can be vaguely terrifying. Gentleman that he is, he left a message:
"Hey, I got a call from Jessica but not from this NUM-ber. Um, ah, have 'er call back. Thanks, bye."
I was tied up with stuff all day on Sunday and couldn't return the call — when one faces the possibility of a conversation with Chuckles, one must set aside as much time for him as he may need, and I wasn't able to do that. Nor was I about to rearrange my day for a chance to talk to someone like him. So I waited until yesterday, Monday, and I texted him in the early afternoon.
I felt just like Jeff Rossen.
Anyhow: I'd come this far, so what the hell — if Chuckles wants a picture, Chuckles can have a picture. There are pics of me on Google anyhow, and I'd already given him my full name in that original voicemail, so what difference does it make if I text him a photo myself?
He probably meant, "Yes, I can receive images via MMS." But I preferred to think of it as, "Yes, that is indeed a nice photo!" (I know this makes little to no sense.)
It wasn't until much later last night that I could resume my attempts to make contact. I waited until after the latest installment of Sheen's Korner, which featured the guy looking his worst yet, and I poured myself a drink — that brief but disturbingly incoherent video, combined with everything else, left me in want of a little liquid courage (old-school journalism!). I was prepared to tell him I was a writer and, if he would keep talking to me, ask him point-blank about his sobriety, the increasing appearance of mania, and, most importantly, why so many women are "liars" and "trolls" when they all keep reporting the same sort of violent experiences with him.
But he didn't answer. Chuckles was being unreliable!
We'd shared an SMS moment. Why had he dropped me so quickly? It could have been because I called via Skype on my computer (you'd be a fool to trust an iPhone with a potentially important call) and he didn't recognize the number. Or maybe it was because in my message, I clarified that it was me, the girl with whom he'd been texting, and actually I'm a writer and it would be really great to talk to you and… Or maybe it was because he's absolutely fucking insane and there are no reasons for anything. Or maybe he just went to bed early.
Just to be safe, I texted him to let him know I'd called from a different number. Gotta cover all of your bases with the guy. But I never heard back.
I was both relieved and disappointed; relieved that I wouldn't risk hearing him tell me that he might cut off my troll head and send it to my mom via Warlock Express, and disappointed because maybe he didn't like my picture? (Okay, not really — disappointed because, as daunting as the prospect was, it looked like the conversation wasn't going to happen.)
But even now, as I write this, I keep glancing at my phone. After all, he might call. And I'm a little scared that he will.
Related: Let's Stage A Citizen's Intervention. Here's Charlie Sheen's Phone Number. [Deadspin]