04x04 - Crazy Calls

Adult Adam: Back in the '80s, the most terrifying place in existence for any freshman was the high-school cafeteria.

The table you chose defined how you were labeled and where you ranked in the social hierarchy.

I don't see any seats together. What should we do?

Every man for himself.

If anyone asks, I'm a skate rat now.


Classic Dave Kim.

Figuring out where to sit, eh?

Yeah. Ah, that's a sad dance that I know all too well.

But lucky for you, I'm a guidance counselor, and I can guide you to lunchroom success.

Um, maybe I could sit with the preppies?

Come on, man. You want to walk around in boat shoes with no socks?

You want to invite that kind of fungus in your life?

Okay. How about the band geeks?

Do you even play an instrument? No, you don't.

So what makes you think they're gonna just welcome you into their unique and beautiful fold?

Uh, maybe the Goth kids?

The Goths? They would eat you alive.

Seriously, I heard they eat cats and stuff.

Come on! I gotta sit somewhere! Time's running out!

Agreed. And you're starting to look real desperate, and standing next to me is not helping you.

Please, just go! Mm, okay.

I was officially tableless.

If I didn't find a place to sit, I'd be a social pariah forever.

Hey, Goldberg, come sit with us.

Just then the sportos beckon me to sit at the coolest table in the cafeteria.

It was either a miracle or a huge mistake.

Grab a chair, little man.

And the plate of waffle fries is for sharing.

No offense to myself, but I think you got the wrong guy.

No way!

We all think it's awesome that you're super into movies, robots, He-Man.

Oh, so you're also a He-head?

That's the name I've given to die-hard He-Man fans.

That's cool. It's also cool that, like, the top of your head smells so good.

Odd observation from that distance, but I do condition every day.

It shows, bro.

Nice. Such luster.

Ah, balls! She got to you!

No, man. We... We like you for you.

God, my own mom has to find me a table?

That's where my life is?

She gave us free waffle fries. You get it.

She also yelled at us and said that in time, we'd come to love you.

Mom, I don't want to hear any more!


Mom, you ruined my life!

Schmoo, you just seemed so helpless without a place to sit.

It's my job, as your mama, to help.

Help?! That's the whole problem.

If you're gonna sub at my school, you have to start respecting my boundaries.


Boundaries. Totally get it.

Do you?!


'Cause nothing up to this point has led me to believe you do.

I get boundaries, Adam.

You don't want me to intervene or talk to you while you're at school.


Until I see you struggle, and then I come in strong and hard.

Nope. Lost it.

Okay, okay.

We'll limit our interactions to hallway snuggies...


...and brief Eskimo kisses.


Grr. Fine.

I'll leave your little kitten nose alone.

Thank you.

But at home, all bets are off.


♪ I'm twisted up inside ♪
♪ But nonetheless, I feel the need to say ♪
♪ I don't know the future ♪
♪ But the past keeps getting clearer every day ♪

It was October 12, 1980-something, and my dad was coming home to a familiar frustration.

Did anyone call while I was out?

Yeah. I wrote it down on the pad.

Flurt Burtman? Who the hell's Flurt Burtman?

I don't know. He was talking all fast, 'cause it was important.

Anyway, call him back.

Call who back?!

If it's important, I need to know the actual name.

I don't know. I'm not invested, because it wasn't for me.

What the hell's this message? "PP"?

Oh, Barry wrote that.

My guess is he either drank too much Mr. Pibb or Pop-Pop called?

Wait. My dad called? He never uses the phone.

He always thinks the Cubans are listening.

Oh, he calls all the time.

He just says, "Tell the moron I'll call him back."

Oh, so this is me giving you those dozens of messages.

You know what? This madness stops now.

My dad's solution... The answering machine.

Before voicemail, this bulky thing was the best technology the '80s had to offer.

Problem solved.

Holy crap! You got us an answering machine?!

Erica, come quick!

Dad did something that doesn't suck!

Oh, my God! An answering machine?

Stop, you morons. It's not for you.

It's so I can finally get my messages.

I'm doing the outgoing message.

No way! I've been planning for this my whole life.

[As Mr. T] I don't want no jibber-jabber, foo'!

Wait for the beep!

Stay in school, and leave a message.

This is Mr. T, by the way. Get out of here.

[As Tony Montana] Say hello to my little message.

This is Scarface, by the way.


I'm leaving the message.

There's a simple one right here in the instruction book.

No! It can't be you! [Normal voice]

No! Don't read the suggested script!

That's the worst option of all.

Hello. You've reached the answering machine of the Goldberg residence.

We either are unavailable or unable to get to the phone at the moment, but we would appreciate it if you would leave your name, telephone number, business, the person you're calling for, and the time you called after you hear the beep.

And we will be sure to get back to you at our...

Come on! Everyone knows how to do it. I can't take it.

It's so long and explain-y.

Shut up!

Earliest convenience.

[Chuckles] Yeah. I-I'm good with that.

As my dad got the win, I was still a lone loser without a table.

My only choice was to accept my fate of eating alone under the bleachers.

That is, until I stumbled upon my salvation.

Holy motherboard.

The high-school computer lab.

It had six state-of-the-art Apple Ils, each with double floppy drives and a dot-matrix printer that could ink a whopping six lines per minute on that weird paper where you rip off the sides.

We're allowed to be in here. Okay.

Mr. Glascott says we can stay the whole lunch period as long as we don't make crumbs, which is why I bring a thermos of soup every day.


Whoa. Is that "Prince of Persia"?

We've got it all...

"Castle Wolfenstein," "Lode Runner," "Choplifter!," and "Ultima" parts I, II, III, and IV.

You have part IV? That's the ultimate "Ultima"!

You know your stuff.

I'm Adam, by the way.

I'm Mike Levy. This is also Mike Levy.

You guys have the same name?

Yeah, but Mike Z. Is painfully shy, so it's not much of an issue.

I feel your pain. There's a senior also named Adam Goldberg.

He's not happy to have me around.

[Chuckles] Right on.

I'm actually pretty good at "Oregon Trail."

Even though I immediately died of dysentery, my mom was thrilled I found a party to hitch my wagon to.

Meanwhile, Erica and Barry were blazing their own trail.

Erica: Guess what we have.

The answers to all our answering-machine problems...

Both: Crazy Calls.

I don't know what it is, but it sounds wild.

It's a tape of professionally recorded outgoing messages that represent many musical styles.

And it's advertised on TV, so you know it's good.

Prepare yourselves.

♪ I'm glad you called, but I'm not home ♪
♪ But I'll be back before too long ♪

Both: ♪ Wait for the beep ♪
♪ You gotta leave your name ♪
♪ You gotta leave your number ♪
♪ Wait for the beep ♪

[Beep] Al, don't join into their nonsense.

Listen... We have no answering-machine problems.

My message stays.

Please, just listen to reason.

The message you recorded is so bad, our friends refuse to call.

The light is blinking. I must be doing something right.

Pop-Pop: Hello. Is this Murray?

What? You got a robit taking your messages now?

Ooh, my highfalutin' son thinks he's better than everyone.

I think it's Pop-Pop.

Well, you're not. You're a thief!

Don't think I forgot about that $17 you stole from me.

Still with the $17! I can't take this!

[Tape fast-forwarding]

My electric bill was the same every month, but all of a sudden, it's $17 more.

Yeah, well, you do the math, genius!

He's taking up the whole tape!

[Tape fast-forwarding] I know you were upset about your wedding toast, but I really thought you preferred the company of men.

[Tape fast-forwarding] You were an ugly baby. There, I said it.

That's it!

Well, at least he's talking to you. That's new.

Oh, we will talk but good.

Just he and I, man to man.

[Knock on door]

Ah, you. What do you want?

My dad paid me $20 to set this up for you so you won't miss his phone call.

Ah, so he'll pony up 20 bucks for you, and still I'm out my $17.

I don't know, man. Do you want the machine or not?

All right. I'll take the robit, but only because I like free stuff.

Adult Adam: As Erica did my dad's dirty work, me and my new pals were having some good, clean fun.

And that, my friend, is how you use Basic to program a real-life booby.

Whoa! So lifelike.

Scram! Me and this lady are gonna study for health class, with our faces.

No way! We're allowed to be here at lunch.

Mr. Glascott says.

You're a ballsy, little nerd, aren't you?

Tell you what, I'm gonna let it slide, but only because there's a broom closet for us right down the hall.

Later, nerd losers.

Look at them with their nerd thermoses.

Like they're nerd construction workers.

[Both laugh]

Excuse me. What did you just say about those nerd losers?

Uh, that they should drink out of their nerd thermoses?

Glascott's office now!

So, what kind of punishment are we talking about here?

Suspension, expulsion, solitary confinement?

Do we do that? 'Cause that's what I want.

Yeah. You two can go back to class, and try not to be so accurate with your nerd insults next time.

Oh, and stay out of that broom closet.

Yeah, that's right. Old Glascott knows what's up!

Why did you let them go? They called my schmoo a nerd.

That's not on them.

That's more on your schmoo for being one.

Hey, only I get to call my schmoo a schmoo.

The point is, Adam and his gang of computer dorks don't even eat in the lunchroom.

That means they're not even on the social ladder.

You've got to do something about this.

If you don't help Adam, then you have failed as a mother.

But that is my greatest nightmare.

You gotta help me. Please.

I told him I'd respect his boundaries.

Guide me. It's what you're so good at.

I know you're playing me for a fool, but this fool has low-grade depression.

So... I'll bite.

While my mom was plotting to improve my social future, Pop-Pop was getting an earful about his past.

Murray: You want to know why I slept with the lights on?

'Cause you took me to see "Psycho" when I was 9!

You owe me $17 for a lifetime of showering with the curtain wide open!

Oh, you want a message? I'll give you a message.

I'll give you a big, fat message in your big, fat ears.

Pop-Pop: You think someone's gonna come after you in the shower?

Believe me, you have nothing anyone wants to see.

[Beep] Fine. You want to talk, let's talk!

Adult Adam: And, so began the great Goldberg answering machine war of 1980-something.

Murray: And you were so God-awful that none of my friends ever wanted to come over and play with me!

Pop-Pop: Friends? I had to pay the boy next door to be friends with you!

So, you owe me a nickel for that, too.

Adult Adam: What began as one simple call from Pop-Pop quickly spiraled into an endless volley of very hurtful rants.

Murray: There! I said it!

You're a crappy dad and even a worse businessman!

Pop-Pop: You think I'm implying you're a disappointment?

No, no. I'm saying it loud and clear! Disappointment!

Again with the farkakte machine.

I know. He's been tying up the phone line, and I can't get any of my messages.

What? No. I meant your dad and Pop-Pop might be doing serious damage to their relationship.

Oh, please. They're fine.

You are a trash heap of a human being, and even a worse father!

He meant that with love, and...

Ah, crap. This went bad fast.

Adult Adam: It had been a week since the great Goldberg answering machine war, and my sister was tired of not getting any of her messages.

Robotic voice: Tape full. [Beep]

My God! This thing between Dad and Pop-Pop has got to stop.

Messages deleted. [Beep]

Adult Adam: Acting on her standard selfishness, Erica decided to erase Pop-Pop and end the war.

Hey, I'm home! Nobody bother me!

I need to check my messages.

Robotic voice: No new messages. [Beep]

Hey! Anyone call for me?

You know, like a telemarketer, wrong number, angry grandfather?


Okay. Good.


Very good.

Guess there's no reason to tie up the phone lines now.

Yep. - I mean, no call from Pop-Pop means you don't have to pay him the $17.

Yep, yep, yep.

You won.

I won.


Big winner.

You won.

Murray wins.

And that is how you end an answering machine war.

Well, I guess it is best for your father's sanity.

Sure, sure, that thing.

Also, I finally get to use the phone again.

Hey! What do you think you're doing, you moron?

Making a phone call.

Yeah. The machine is expecting a call.

No one goes near this or stands in this area. Out!

[Receiver clicks]

Okay. Why the hell isn't he taking the win?

It's like he wants Pop-Pop to call and rant at him.

Crazy as it sounds, I think your dad actually liked chatting with Pop-Pop through the machine.

And now that it's done... he's sad.

That's nuts. Dad doesn't get sad.

No new messages. [Beep]

No new messages. [Beep]

My God. He's sad.

No new messages. [Beep]

Fine. You made your point.

We'll get them together and end this, once and for all.

No new messages.

Adult Adam: My sister was determined to end the war.

Meanwhile, my mom set off a nuclear bomb of embarrassment at school.

There's the guy. Watch out.

It's the Fighting Quaker of the Month.

How is this a thing? What's happening to me?

What is happening is you're being celebrated for your popularity amongst your fellow students.

And one of the delightful spoils is that you get to sit at this special table.

It's for cool kids only.

First of all, I like eating in the computer lab.

Also, my mom clearly put you up to this.

[Laughs] Popular and funny.

Whatever. I'm going back to my computer game.

And I'm taking this disaster with me.

Where is he going?

Why isn't he sitting at his cool new table?

Did you screw the pooch on this one, Andre?

No! Probably.

Look. If the kid won't accept help from his super-cool guidance counselor, then he's just a lost cause.

But my mom was never one to give up.

When it came to her little schmoo, she always had the drive to succeed.

Oh, Beverly, you're so "Krafty".


Say cheese.

Man: I think we found the problem.

Looks like someone wanted a little cheese with their Apple.

Nailed it.

Principal Ball: Oh, come on.

The sign clearly states no food in here.

You kids know the rules. You are banned for lunch hours.

But where are we supposed to go?

In the cafeteria with the normals.

Yeah, I said it.

Come on. I'll cut you a check.

No! You can't send us back in the wild!

We've been domesticated.

Guys, guys, guys.

I think the silver lining here is that Mike Z. talked.

You shut it! Shut it, Goldberg!

You know, it's kind of funny how the drive got cheese just after you joined our crew.

Mike, Mike, i-it's me.

I-I wouldn't cheese the drive.

Well, me and Mike Levy are kosher.

Way of life!

And Rog, Mink, and Alvie are lactose-intolerant.

Come at me!

But every day, you eat the same turkey and cheese sandwich.

Get some!

That is the lunch my mom always makes me.


[Crowd groans]

Boy, Al, we are lucky to get these seats.

Yep. Pure luck.

Oh, look who it is!

Hey, is that Pops and Father over there?

Well, this is a very unplanned coincidence.

Damn it.

Damn it.

Hey, now you two can talk in person like normal humans.

Pop-Pop, let's trade seats.

That is a crap trade, and you know it.

Mur, sit here.

I'm fine here on the end. Thank you.

Hey, Bar, tell Murray to flag down the soft pretzel guy.

Erica, tell Pops to tell Dad Pop-Pop wants a pretzel.

Um, Pops, tell Dad that Pop-Pop would appreciate it if he bought him a pretzel.

Murray, buy your dad a pretzel.

Tell him to buy his own damn pretzel!

No go, Erica.

Barry, Dad kindly declines the pretzel purchasing.

Pop-Pop, Dad said to get bent and buy your own.

I wasn't asking for a free pretzel.

Tell that ungrateful b*st*rd he still owes me $17.

He can take it out of my tab.

Erica, Pop-Pop said Dad's a b*st*rd, and he wants a Tab.

Pops, Pop-Pop wants a diet soda.

Murray, will you buy your dad a diet soda?

At the very least, it'll calm him down.


Excuse me. Let me get a pretzel and a Tab for the old guy on the end.





What the [Bleep] is this!

I don't drink ladies' soda.

Where's my pretzel?

It appears Dad is eating it.

You give your father a message, and you tell him every single word.

Yep. Dad and Pop-Pop were finally talking.

Only problem, they were using their family as their telephone and answering machine.

That's right.

This woman cheesed the drive, not us. Her!

Whoa! That's a harsh accusation against a faculty member who's here one day a week.

It's true. She cheesed it.

It's her signature culinary move.

Beverly, do you have anything to say?

I vehemently deny cheesing the drive under cover of darkness when no one was here.

She said "vehemently." That's a big word.

So I have to believe her.

Fine. If she's not gonna own up to it, then I'd like to log an official complaint against this teacher, sir.

You mean your mom?

She's been harassing one of the students.


I don't see you writing!

Don't write it down, Andre.

Write it down, Andre!

Report the snuggies and the kisses, both butterfly and Eskimo.

You Eskimo'd on school grounds?

Ooh! I gotta write it. I just have to.

School grounds or not, I am your mother, and I have the legal right to snug, squish, and kiss you like we're in an igloo as much as I want.

According to the school handbook, you really don't.

Oh, so it's almost as if there are boundaries that no one can cross.

Check and mate. He's got you there, lady.

Adam, I just wanted you...

Bup, bup, bup! Boundaries!

You expect me to just sit...

Bup, bup! Boundaries!

I just want... Just give...

Bup, bup, bup, bup! Bup, bup, bup, bup!

I want...

But I... Bup, bup, bup! Bup!

I really think he wants you to respect his...

I know what he wants!

You know, I was actually happy in the computer lab.

Those guys accepted me.

You always say you want to help, but you just end up ruining everything.

Realizing she'd made a mess of my social life, my mom knew it was time to clean things up.

Not so fast, Atkins. This is a random locker search.

If it's random, why are you targeting the guy most likely to have a doobie hidden in his locker behind a Trapper Keeper?

Ah, nards.

Principal's office. Now.

This is so unfair!

It is, which is why I'll offer you a plea bargain.

You take the fall for cheesing the drive, and this all goes away.

I don't know what you just said, and maybe that's 'cause I've been hitting my Trapper Keeper, but I'm in.

You also have to stop making fun of my son.

Done. Who is he?


Adam who?

You know, the freshman. You call him a nerd loser.

That narrows it down to like 40 dudes.

The one with the dimples and the glasses.

He looks like a model. He plays with computers.

Oh-oh! That nerd loser.

Sure. I'll leave him alone.

Hey, little bro. How's it hangin'?

That's not my son.

Beat it, dork! Scram!

Ugh! I can't believe my arm just touched a nerd.

Getting rid of the answering machine?

Stupid piece of crap. Caused nothing but problems.

Don't throw it away.

Pop-Pop did call back, but I erased the tape.

W-Why would you do that?

Because you were hogging the phone, talking to your dad but not actually talking.

And then I realized not talking is how you talk.

Look. That's why we ambushed you at the game.

I thought maybe you guys would like to talk for real, but if you like your machine better, then I won't stop you.

You know me and my dad. We never were big talkers.

Well... maybe it's time to try.

[Don Henley's "The Heart Of The Matter" plays]

♪ I got the call today ♪

You! Yeah. I was gonna call, but then I thought, I don't know, I'd just come over.

What for? I brought you $17 worth of soft pretzels.

I wanted the money in cash.

♪ An old true friend of ours ♪

But the game's on.

You could come in and, uh, watch.

Sure. I got nothing better to do.

♪ I'm learning to live without you ♪

Lucky for you boys, the real culprit stepped forward.

The lab's all yours again. Don't make crumbs.

[Boys cheering]

Hey, sorry we blamed you for cheesing the drive.

It's cool. I'm just glad we're back where we belong.

From that point on, I couldn't wait for lunchtime.

And it was all thanks to someone who cared a little too much.

♪ I've been trying to get down ♪

Hey. Heard the good news.

Stop. I-I know you fixed this for me, but wouldn't you say framing a kid kind of crosses every boundary ever?

God, you're right.

I am horrible with boundaries, boopie.

But I'll try to do better.

Well, I'll let this one time slide.

But, to be clear, the "no snuggling" policy still stands.

♪ Because the flesh will get weak ♪

In that moment, I realized that I had a mother who would cross any boundary for me.

♪ Forgiveness ♪
♪ Forgiveness ♪

Starting now.

And that made me the luckiest kid in the world.

There's too much salt on the pretzels.

What are you talking about? Salt makes the pretzel.

Salt makes you die.

'Cause, at the end of the day, walls need to be broken, and boundaries need to be crossed...


In order for love to get through.

[Speaks indistinctly]


Barry: Hi. You've reached the Goldbergs. Leave a message.

[Beep] Hey. I got a flat tire, and I need...

Ha! It's not the answering machine, you dumb idiot!

It's actually me... Barry.

[Sighs] It's me. I need Dad...

Gotcha again! It is the answering machine.

Leave a message. [Beep]

Damn it! I've got a flat tire, and I need Dad...

No, it's actually me, Barry, for real.

So, what's the deal?

Barry, I will kill you! Put Dad on the...

But, seriously, leave a message at the beep.


Dad I got a flat...

Oh my god, you are a *** sack of crap.