He said he was a father from Oxon Hill, calling to warn other parents about a menace that's sweeping the Prince George's County schools.
"What kind of menace?" I asked.
By way of reply, the father dictated New York City's 212 area code, and a seven-digit phone number. Then he gave me his number. "Just call the New York number, then call me back," he said.
Intrigued, I dialed Big Appledom. A machine answered the phone, and a husky woman's voice, obviously recorded, said:
"Hi. I'm feeling sexy today. Are you feeling sexy today? Would you like it if I . . . "
We'd better interrupt the transcript right there in the interests of decency. Let's just say that the woman described in intricate detail what she would do to, with and for the caller. She then described how much she'd enjoy it herself, complete with gasps and groans. Finally, still breathless from erotic overload, she noted that there'd be an all-new, equally explicit message waiting for her callers after 6 that night.
My ears still ringing, I called the father back.
"Pretty strong stuff, wasn't it?" he asked.
"Sure was," I said. "What the heck is this all about?"
"The recording is a promotional stunt cooked up by the editors of some girlie magazine," the father informed me. "They publish the number in the magazine every month."
"So what's the menace you mentioned?"
"My phone bill last month had 205 calls to this number. Those 205 calls cost me $515. I didn't recognize the number, so I called to see who it belonged to. It's the same tape you just called. So then I asked my son, who's a junior in high school out here, if he knew anything about the calls. He said he didn't."
"But it turned out he did?"
"That's right. When I asked him about it every day for a couple of weeks, he finally admitted making all the calls. He said the number is passed around his school, and the kids take turns going over to someone's house, calling the number and all getting on all the extension phones so they can listen."
Sorry, but I'm not going to publish the New York phone number or the name of the girlie magazine. More publicity is just what the editors want--and just what I have no intention of giving them.
But I will echo the warning of the Oxon Hill father: If you're the parent of a teen-ager, it's a good bet that your child has heard about this dial-an-earful service, whether you live in Prince George's County or elsewhere. You might want to warn your child that if any calls to that New York number turn up on your bill, neither Dad nor Mom has any intention of paying for them. Guess who will.