Old hustle, new twist. The moral is that if you think fast, and get a little lucky, you may give a con man a whole lot more than he bargained for.

Jim Brown was the prospective victim. The victimizer approached Jim in the lobby of his office building and said, "Hey, ain't you from back on the block?"

Jim didn't want to be rude, but he had also done his homework here in this corner of the comics, and he didn't want to be a patsy, either.

He well knew that if he played along with the con, he'd soon be lending the conster $25 to bail out his car, or to buy his wife candy for their anniversary, or to take a cab to Kentucky, or some such pressing (and totally imaginary) matter.

So Jim cooked up a lie.

He said, yup, right, he was indeed the guy from the old block. As con men always do, this one said, "Yeah, I knew you were, and, uh, where was that again?"

So Jim reached into the middle of the air and replied: "The 3900 block of 39th Street NW." He lives nowhere near there, of course, and never did.

The con then proceeded as it usually does, with one happy difference. When it came time to apply "the touch," Jim refused to cooperate.

But he got to thinking about the episode later that evening, and he began to worry that he might have wished an unwelcome visitor on the people who actually do live in the 3900 block of 39th Street. So he drove there to have a look.

Guess what backs onto the 3900 block of 39th Street?

The second district headquarters of the Metropolitan Police.

Not exactly hospitable turf for con-spinners. And a good phony address to recite if you're ever in the same spot.

Well said and well worth noting, from the pen of David Stanley of Vienna:

"Time for leaves to fall pretty soon. Here are two games to help you enjoy the season, while the leaves are actually dropping off the trees. 'Most any age can play. I'm 69.

"Game 1, Walk The Same: In your usual walks, to work, to school, to a parking garage, to a bus stop, whatever -- watch for a leaf coming down and try to catch it without swerving, stopping, speeding up or changing your pace or stride. It may take a few minutes, or even days. Frustrating, but fun.

"Game 2, Chase It Down: Go out in a lawn or park when leaves are falling fast. Take a young child with you. Watch for a leaf just starting down. Chase it and catch it.

"It's most fun on a breezy day. It's OK to giggle as you run."

I don't believe I've ever played either of these games, David. And I don't believe, a month from now, that I'll be able to say that any more.

Bert Procaccino of Riverdale overheard it in a playground near his home:

One 6-year-old to another: "Whatever you do, don't learn to spell 'cat.' After that, the words just get harder and harder."

From an anonymous correspondent:

"Last weekend, my fiance and I were visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. As I'm sure you're aware, gifts are always left under a loved one's name. Mind you, it was only a Peppermint Patty left at the base of the wall . But it obviously meant something to someone."

So why did a woman walk past, reach down, pick up the patty, open it and eat it?

My correspondent is still wondering. So am I.

It's less than 10 weeks to Christmas, which means that visions of presents had better be dancing through your pretty little heads if you want to finish your lists this year.

Here's an item that deserves an A-plus for usefulness, if you ask me. It's a 1986 desk calendar offered by the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia.

What's so special about this calendar? Well, in addition to national holidays, LWVDC'S calendar lists dates of local elections, dates when taxes are due, names and phone numbers of city officials and a collection of D.C. government agency phone numbers. Best of all, the $3.50 cost goes to support LWVDC'S excellent work throughout the year.

The calendars are on sale at the league's headquarters, 1341 G St. NW., room 415, or by calling 347-3403.

Mrs. Jackson Weaver of Falls Church is still wondering whether the car she passed last week meant to say what it seemed to say.

Its vanity license plate read: IN LOVE.

A sign in the rear window read: FOR SALE.