TV's Conehead clan settles in Parkville Skeptical? Check out their telephone listing in the Baltimore book

April 19, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

The listing is on Page 262 of the Bell Atlantic white pages for metropolitan Baltimore: CONEHEAD Beldar & Prymaat.

Do the Coneheads, that space-truckin' family of TV chuckleheads, really live in Parkville? Is this the place to sign up your teen-ager for lessons with the Meep-zor Precision Driving School? Should someone send out a welcome wagon toting mass quantities for the new neighbors, who, no doubt, would claim to be from France?

Alas, the truth is not stranger than science fiction.

"Beldar" is really a 38-year-old prison correctional officer named Randy Watson. And dialing the number will only get you a busy signal -- the line is dedicated to Mr. Watson's computer, where he uses the Beldar handle for on-line excursions into games of interstellar conquest.

"I tried to come up with a topical name, and I enjoyed the Coneheads skits back on 'Saturday Night Live,' " Mr. Watson said.

"Since they had set out to conquer Earth before their spaceship crashed into Lake Michigan, I figured that Beldar would be a good space-battling name."

And, Mr. Watson reasoned, it would be a good name to list in the phone book.

"The listing," he said, "should go to somebody who was making (( all the calls."

He got the idea of a pseudonymous listing from an old friend with the initials B. B. -- who listed his phone number under "Squared, B." And Mr. Watson, who held the title "past master" in a Masonic lodge, said he once listed his phone "Master, Past."

A phone company sales representative initially was lukewarm about allowing him to list the phone in his computer name, he said. But she eventually relented, he said, adding, "She thought it was kind of cute and got a chuckle out of it."

But the phone police at Bell Atlantic now say the listing violates company policy.

"I have a good sense of humor. I think it's very clever, but for the book to be of value to our customers the listings have to be legitimate," said Stephanie Hobbs, a Bell Atlantic spokeswoman.

"We will probably be in contact with Mr. Conehead to negotiate a change in his listing," she said.

At work, Mr. Watson is a lieutenant at a state Division of Correction prerelease center.

At home, he uses the computer to lord over a universe where characters migrate from planet to planet -- just as the Coneheads left Remulak for Earth and strange encounters in a Midwestern, suburban enclave dubbed Parkwood Heights.

The phone line connects Mr. Watson to a game known as Trade-Wars 2002, taking him from his bedroom -- or sleep chamber, as Beldar would say -- to an imaginary world of sectors and one-way warps.

For Mr. Watson, it's all fantastic fun. But there's no hiding from the real world.

Bell Atlantic sells its listings, and since the Coneheads were named in the phone book, the volume of junk mail to Mr. Watson's Heartwood Court home has increased.

His favorite is a catalog from a Minnesota mail-order company.

"Beldar Conehead," says the solicitation, "this could be your last chance to enjoy pre-authorized credit."

Pub Date: 4/19/96

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