Our parents set the standard for this, of course. Mom made sure the first interaction you had with our family was to laugh—especially if you got the answering machine. This was in sharp contrast to most of our extended family, who seldom had an answering machine greeting more interesting than "This is the Tom Johnson residence. . . . Leave a message."
One evening, we were joking about that disconnect and our relatives' greetings when we realized there was something missing. If you know us, you know our dad (okay, well, he's not Mom's dad, but you know who we mean) shares his name with a very famous historical figure. All these elements combined to create a perfect storm of an answering machine greeting, in Dad's cheery baritone:
You've reached the [Thomas Jefferson] Residence . . . for Wayward Girls. Please leave a message. [distorted piano music]
We still embrace this as our calling in life:
Over the years, the message has impressed a number of people, including my soon-to-be-sister-in-law (she wasn't sure she had the right house and hung up without leaving a message). The greeting was unchanged until another perfect storm—lightning struck in the front yard, zapping a good number of electronics in the house. But the spirit of the greeting will live on in our wayward hearts—and we hope in yours too!