Well, no voicemail followed. But what I DID get a second later was a text message from the same number.
"SHANE COME TO YOUR FRONT DOOR"
What the... Several things immediately went through my mind, and strangely not one of them involved going to my front door. If I wasn't going to answer the phone for a random stranger, I certainly wasn't going to invite them in for tea and crumpets. My actions at this point were dictated by years of my mother's advice, namely: STRANGER DANGER. It worked when I was 8, and as far as I'm concerned, it still applies at 38.
I chose the mature path, which was to immediately whisper-yell, "SHHHHHHHHHHH!" whilst quickly hitting mute on the TV and dodging the all-too-familiar eye roll from Friend Jason. Some people might embrace the unknown - I hide from it. The logic was simple: this number didn't belong to any of my close friends, and Ed McMahon's Prize Patrol would've surely picked a far less sinister introductory text message.
Ergo, this stranger -- now possibly perched outside my door -- surely was evil. Perhaps a serial killer. Perhaps a deranged fan of this column. Perhaps Tom Cruise, here to seek vengeance as only Maverick can at my public worship of Katie Holmes. One thing was certain -- I wasn't opening that door.
I tiptoed silently to the peephole and cautiously peered out. No one there. I crept back to the living room and picked up my phone. This was the exact text message conversation that followed:
Me: WHO IS THIS
Creepy Stalker Killer: R U HOME?
Me: WHO IS THIS
Creepy Stalker Killer: A MYSTERIOUS VISITOR
Me: INDISPOSED AT THE MOMENT
Creepy Stalker Killer: 2 BAD - THIS WOULD MAKE GREAT COLUMN
Me: STOP BEING CREEPY
Creepy Stalker Killer: I WILL VISIT AGAIN SOON
Me: THAT CONTINUES TO BE CREEPY
And thus the conversation ended, with me on the edge of a paranoid breakdown. Eventually, though, I looked at it realistically. Freddy Krueger wouldn't fuss about with a Blackberry, he'd simply invade my dreams and kill me mercilessly sans text message. And if there IS someone out there stalking me creepily, I kinda feel sorry for them, as it must be one seriously boring pasttime ("Day 342: He continues to watch TV.")
So I put the whole episode out of my head -- until this past weekend. I was walking to my car en route to my weekend DJ gig when a nondescript car pulled into my lot. They were working on the lights in our lot, and on this night, it was so dark that I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I was at the door of my car when I heard:
Gulp. I tried to ignore it. Maybe they'd think I had my iPod on.
I spun, heart racing. The car had stopped near mine and an outstretched hand was holding a small box.
"Come here, I have something for you."
Did I recognize that voice? Maybe, I wasn't sure. I walked over with my finger hovering over the alarm button on my remote start. If I was going to die tonight, I'd at least do it a cacophony of car horns and flashing headlights.
"Here, it's a present." I looked down at the box in my hand and realized immediately that it was a videotape. By the time I looked up, the car had screeched away without giving me a glance at my creepy benefactor.
All through my DJ set that night, I couldn't stop thinking about the videotape. What could it be? What if it was someone hiding behind bushes filming me on my morning commute? I'd need adult diapers, that's what. I got home, stuck in the tape, and bravely pressed play...
...and discovered I was now the proud owner of a bootleg copy of the holy grail of Nerdvana: the Star Wars Holiday Special. Back in 1978, George Lucas had a momentary lapse of sanity and allowed CBS to air a made-for-TV, family-friendly atrocity that in 2 mere hours destroys any ounce of credibility that Star Wars once held. We're talking dancing Wookiees, Carrie Fisher singing, cameos from Art Carney and Bea Arthur, and a musical interlude from Jefferson Starship -- truly terrifying stuff that George Lucas has spent the past 30 years trying to disown and bury. Naturally, it's a must-own for nerds worldwide.
And I'm still not sure who my geeky gift-giver is, though my guess is that it's a local legend named Tom -- some of you might know him as Movie Tom for his encyclopediac film knowledge, others call him Officer Tom (because when he used to pop up at frat parties, he looked so out of place that we naturally took him for an undercover cop.) I go years without hearing from the guy, but when he DOES show up unannounced, it's usually with something cool, nerdy, or both.
One thing's for sure, though. Whoever it was, they were right: I think it DID make for an okay column.