Last night at around 11:00, just as I stepped back into the apartment after walking the dog, my phone rang.
The voice at the other end told me it was Barack Obama, so I hung up.
When he called back twenty minutes later, this time he laughed softly, then said: "This really IS Barack Obama." I slammed down the phone. How many times were these tricksters, whoever they were, going to call me? How gullible did they think I was?
It was after midnight when the phone rang a third time. I was in bed reading. "This is Joe Biden. Look, you hung up on the President-elect..." he started in a slightly admonishing tone, but I missed the rest of whatever he said. I hung up.
The next thing I knew, I was asleep and the phone, again, was ringing. It woke me. The clock said 3:12. "Who is it?" I croaked into the phone. "This is the Pope, in Rome," a quiet voice said. "Sorry about the time difference, but did you really hang up on Vice President-elect Joe Biden?" I hung up. What else could I do? How could anyone think I'd believe that the Pope would call? Me? A Jewish girl from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I mean, hey, what bagel-and-lox truck did they think I fell off, anyway?
When I was in the 7th grade and bored, a frequent occurrence, my friends and I used to call and order pizzas from and to a certain music teacher at our school, a fellow we had a fierce crush on. When pizzas became passé, we switched to weightier props. One time, we sent a baby grand piano, which we rented in his name. Another time, a private detective and then the following day, a hooker. Still another, a moving van. In the middle of the night. To move him to, well, um, India. Aah, the boundless joys of having a powder blue Princess phone with no caller ID. What a blissful time to be a teenager. To run on hormones, creative mischief and pure parental rebellion!
So when Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida hung up on Barack Obama twice the other day, she had good reason to. There are all kinds of pranksters out there ready to pull all sorts of mortifying stunts. I ought to know because I used to pull most of them myself.
From now on, just to be sure, whether it's the IRS, Vladimir Putin, Arianna Huffington or even George Clooney, I'm playing it safe.
I'm hanging up.