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I am about to share with you lot of intelligent strangers the shit-all stupidest thing I've ever don. . . er, heard of anyone doing.

I have this -- friend -- (yeah, that's the ticket), who is, generally speaking, a reasonable, well-spoken girl who can, at the very least, find her way out of a paper bag if the need arises. Tragically, my...friend...let rampant, uninformed curiosity, boredom, and beer get the better of her late late one night (after several black & tans). What did she do? The worst and dumbest thing you can imagine.

She called for her "free reading" from one of those cheesy psychic hotlines.

Boy, would this friend of mine be embarrassed if she knew I was telling you about this!

Anyway, not too surprisingly, the "reading" was only free for the first three minutes. Then, a mere $4.99 per minute was charged to her phone bill. Also not surprisingly, the "reading" was bullshit. Vague, stupid stuff like: You may or may not get pregnant if you have intercourse without using contraception," which is, in my. . . friend's defense, just about what she was expecting. So she manages to get off the phone after 4 minutes, not too shabby.

This momentary lapse of reason took place about 12 days ago, and since then, my...ahem...friend has gotten no less than two "Urgent, Confidential, Time Sensitivie" messages per day from various psychic organizations. Some of these messages actually contain envelopes with four tarot cards in them, and notes that say,

"You've got to call me right now! If you don't, tragedy could befall you! Or worse yet, you could miss out on the supremely delightful news I have to share with you!" and,

"If you're not going to call immediately, please do not open the envelope containing the four tarot cards. You don't have the skills needed to interpret them properly, and so looking at them without the assistance of a qualified psychic would only confuse and upset you."

Ah, but there's more. This morning, my "friend" received an envelope in her mailbox that had "U.S. Mail, Important and Confidential Document" in heavy print where return addresses are traditionally put. "Buy and hold U.S. Savings Bonds" was scrawled across the front of the envelope, right above where my (friend's) name showed through the window. "Postmaster: If undeliverable as addressed please refer to section 159 of the official DMM" emblazened in red ink off to the side. Terribly official looking. Of course, my friend knew what it was. *sigh*

Inside that ever-so-clever-and-tricky envelope was a feaux check, the top of which read "Attention! We believe the next few days of your life may hold super potential good fortune, as well as possibly face un-forseen difficulties. Call one of our professional astrologers right now for an in-depth personal reading to clarify the events of the next few days of your life. WE DON'T WANT YOU TO MISS ANY GOOD FORTUNE!" Grammar problems are theirs, by the way. "Potential winnings have been known to be" (printed in miniscule letters,) just above:

NINE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS AND ***00/100***, where one might see an amount written on an actual check. Oh, how humiliating! (For my friend.)

Every single one of these correspondences repeatedly talks about how my friend is so lucky they were able to reach her, and how she really ought to call and get an absolutely free psychic reading, (and pay as little as $1.99 per minute.)

So. If you (or your friends!) call these scam artists, they'll sell your name to each other and you'll not see the end of it too soon. And you'll wish yourself under a rock every time your fiancee looks at the mail in your hand and shakes his head, chuckling.

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