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Thursday, June 26, 2003

Well, it has to happen sooner or later. It may as well be now.

Yes. I refused a collect call from love.

I was in college, living in a studio apartment in Berkeley near the corner of Ashby and Sacramento. It was a nifty place above an old market, behind a heavy locked door that led out to the ghetto. I had a lot of good times in that place.

One bright sunny morning, the phone rang. I stumbled out of bed, books tumbling to the floor from some late night studying. I answered the phone and was greeted by an recorded voice saying, "This is the AT&T operator. Will you accept a collect call from (pause) Love (Pause). Press 1 for yes. Press 2 for no. Press 3 to repeat this message.

I pressed 3. The message repeated. I strained my ears trying to make out someone's name that I knew, or a recognizable voice. Again I was prompted. I pressed 3 again, but this time I was taken to a live operator. A rather surreal conversation ensued. She asked if I had a question. I said, "Who is calling?" She played the recording again. I said, "Did he say "Love"?" She said she would check. She cut over to the caller, and then came back. Yes, it was a collect call from Love. I said, "Love? Like L-O-V-E love?" She said yes. I said, "I don't know anyone named Love." She said, "Would you like to accept the charges?" I ran through my monthly budget in my head, and thought better of it, remembering urban legends of incredibly expensive calls from offshore islands and such. I thought of who could possibly be calling. I thought of the stalker-boy I had in high school. And I said, "Um, no, I don't think so." She said okay and hung up. I crawled back into bed, tossed and turned for a few minutes, and then got up, my mind still wondering who was really calling.

Forest came over for his standard Tuesday night dinner that evening. We had a tradition of X-Files (taped) and dinner on Tuesdays. Over dinner I mentioned the call. He said, "Wait... you refused a collect call from Love? Are you insane?" I realized I must be. Love came calling, but I wouldn't accept the charges. And I'll never know what might have been.

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