My Phone Call With Jack Valenti

My phone rings. The number is “Unknown”, a sure bet it’s either a telemarketer or some scam. I screw up my courage and answer, ready to angrily snarl at some poor sap from Mumbai about calling my mobile number illegally.

“Hello, Brian, this is Jack Valenti from the Nationals,” says the slightly-slurred voice on the other end. “How are you doing today?”

Jack Valenti? The ex-evil genius for the MPAA? He’s working in baseball? For the Nationals? And he’s drunk? And he’s making cold calls to random people like me?

“Fiiiiine,” I reply, stalling for time to make my head stop spinning.

“I was wondering what your plans were for the Nationals this season. Are you going to see any games?” he asked.

In my confusion, I respond the only way I can: truthfully. “Yes,” I tell him, “I’ll be going to watch the Cubs beat the Nats on July 4th.”

Silence. Fortunate silence - that finally gives my poor brain a chance to recover. As the fog lifts, I realize this isn’t the Jack Valenti. It’s just some homophone who works for the Nats, and I’m on a list somewhere, and they’re calling people to buy tickets to combat the dwindling attendance.

Finally, the silence breaks, but the sound is perhaps more awkward. “Oh. So you’re a Cubs fan are you?”

“Yes, I am.” Maybe this is when he realizes he dialed a 312 area code. Probably not; these calls are usually auto-dialed these days, right?

“So you’re going to only go to that game then. Because you’re a Cubs fan.”

“Yes, I’m a Cubs fan.”

More silence. Finally, he manages to stammer, “Well that’s good. Have a nice day.”

“Thanks. You, too,” I reply; and we hang up.