This morning at 2 a.m. my phone rang. A low, husky voice asked if I am who I am.
"Yeah, that's me," I said. "Who is this?"
"Mr. Shore," he said, "I am a representative of the Zeus Torch company. Perhaps you've heard of us?"
"No. And why are you ..."
"Mr. Shore, the Zeus Torch company is responsible for the safekeeping of the Olympic Torch as it makes its journey across America. I take it you've heard of the Olympic Torch?"
"Yeah, sure, I ..."
"Mr. Shore, do you consider yourself a good American?"
"Yeah, I guess. Sure. But I don't how that's any of your ..."
"Do you consider yourself a good citizen of the world, Mr. Shore?"
"You know, I do. See, I have a book coming out in Korea, and ..."
"That's great. And you like sports, don't you Mr. Shore?"
"Well, sure, I ..."
"You avidly watch every Olympics, don't you?"
"Actually, the number of commercials they run now has kind of..."
"You used to play sports, didn't you, Mr. Shore? You used to play Little League baseball, isn't that right?"
"Well, yeah, I did. How do you ...?"
"But you quit, didn't you? Something about your head being too big for the caps?"
"That is not why I quit Little League. I quit because..."
"Wouldn't you like to be back in the sports world again, Mr. Shore? Wouldn't you like to recapture some of that glory that you left lying on that baseball diamond back in Cupertino, California?"
"Wait a minute. How did you ...?"
"Your country needs you."
"The world needs you."
"What are you talking about? Why?"
"To carry the Olympic Torch."
"What are you talking about?"
"As you're no doubt aware, Mr. Shore, the Olympic torch has become a bit of a hot topic this year."
"Hot topic! Good one! You know, I write humor for ..."
"And because of that, the International Olympic Committee has hired Zeus Torch to ensure that the flame of the 2008 Olympic games continues its tour of America without incident. That's where you come in, Mr. Shore."
"It is. We want you to carry the torch when it comes through San Diego."
"The Olympic torch isn't coming through San Diego."
"It is now, sir."
"It is? Since when?"
"That's classified. But believe me. It's coming through San Diego."
"And you want me to carry it."
"This time tomorrow morning."
"But it's two in the morning!"
"Yes, sir. It's a security precaution. As I say, we've had to vary some from the original plans."
"You want me to carry the Olympic Torch."
"At two in the morning."
"For four blocks, yes sir."
"Four blocks? How come for only four blocks?"
"That's as long as we'd be able to ensure your safety, sir."
"Four blocks?! That's it?"
"Yes sir. But rest assured that during those four blocks every possible means will be used to see to it that you and the Olympic flame remain completely protected at all times. You will be surrounded by four assaulted-resistant military vehicles. Those vehicles will in turn be surrounded by a phalanx of ..."
"Wait. Did you say 'phalanx'?"
"I love that word."
"I do too, sir -- but that's beside the point. You will be surrounded by a ... company of armed security personnel, each handpicked straight from the Green Zone in Iraq."
"Oh, great. Like that's gonna..."
"Three military helicopters will be directly overhead every step of your way."
"Really? Wouldn't the helicopter blades blow out the ..."
"Snipers will be posted throughout the route."
"Wow. Do my neighbors..."
"You yourself will be wearing three-inch thick, full-body Kevlar armor and a military-issue combat helmet."
"Sounds heavy! But you know, I've been working out at the gym lately, and ..."
"That's great. Mr. Shore?"
"Will you do it? Will you heed the call of the world's foremost amateur sporting event? Will you take your place in Olympic history? In short: Are you in, Mr. Shore?"
"Um. Hmm. Can I think about it, and call you back?"
He didn't sound too happy about it, but he said that I could.
UPDATE: I was just talking to my neighbor about this call. Turns out the Zeus Torch Company called him last night, too. It seems they’ve been calling everyone in my neighborhood, searching for anyone willing the carry the Olympic torch. No takers yet.
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