I don't mean to interrupt your phone conversation, but I thought you should know that I can hear you. I'd close the door, but I can't seem to find one on the sidewalk, the path at Great Falls, in line at Hecht's or at Table 4 by the window. It's not like I'm eavesdropping. As titillating as it sounds, I'm not drawn into your conversation about yoga class, tonight's dinner or Fluffy's oozing skin rash.

Although cell phones have been around for a while, we still associate them with privacy. Put one to your ear and you'll think you're in your kitchen, office or . . . what was it called . . . a phone booth. But take a moment to look around. You're in public!

I've overheard conversations that were commonplace (soccer snacks) and surreal (tin whistle lessons). I've been exposed to heated marital arguments, employee evaluations (including salary) and too-much-information medical procedures.

Once on the Metro a young woman spoke at length to a friend on her cell about her search for a bathing suit. She hit every store in the mall and nothing fit right and maybe she should go to that cute store in Georgetown and it would be okay if it was any color but yellow or pink . . .

I wanted to join the conversation just to snap her into reality. "Girl, from what I read in the magazines, you should definitely go with a horizontal-striped one-piece."

As if open-air cell phone orations weren't bizarre enough, now earpieces have become popular. The appearance they create is unnerving. It looks like folks are talking to themselves, something I had been doing long before technology caught up.

Matter of fact, all us self-talkers can now go public with our idiosyncrasy by simply donning an earpiece. We don't even need to turn on the cell phone. Or even own a cell phone.

My husband bought me an earpiece a few months ago, and I admit I like it. Not only does it make driving safer, I think it makes me look important. Me: "Sell the entire portfolio when the price hits 100 euros and tell Trump I'll get back to him later." On the other end: "Mom, you're really losing it."

I was in the post office recently, wearing my earpiece, talking to a friend, when I realized that I, too, had become a cell phone orator. My one-woman performance opened with this line: "I knew I shouldn't have bought that shirt. Nylon blends always make me sweat like a pig."

I was suddenly aware of my surroundings. You could hear a stamp drop. Bowing slightly, I made an exit stage left and mailed my package in the next state.

Since then I speak only in intimate settings. The only person listening is on the other end of the phone. Or in my head.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: A model talks on a cell phone backstage at the Ann Bowen Fall 2005 show during Olympus Fashion Week at Bryant Park February 5, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)