If you sign up for do-not-call, you'll be missing a lot of fun

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Don't get mad. Get even.

That should be the rallying cry of all those people who are rushing to sign up for the Federal Trade Commission "do-not-call" registry that's aimed at bothersome telemarketers.

My advice is not to opt out of the system, but to use it as a form of amusement. The idea, when telemarketers come calling, is to concoct something so preposterous and outlandish that it will leave the telephone solicitor speechless.

I've already test-marketed my scheme on a couple of telemarketers and two of them eventually hung up on me. I noticed that in a New York Times article some people actually felt pity for the telemarketers. "They hate to be impolite to callers," The Times wrote.

What I have discovered-and this is big-is that you don't have to be rude to get them to give up. But you do have to be outlandish and relentless.

The game, if you choose to play it, is to get the telemarketing representative to hang up on you before you hang up on them.

I've been called by three such marketers in the last week or so: Verizon (which wanted me to switch from AT&T), Lighthouse (which wanted to consolidate my debts) and Craftmatic Adjustable Beds (which wanted to soothe my arthritis and asthma). The score: Two of the three gave up in frustration and terminated the call. The Craftmatic lady, I feel certain, had all but given up. She said, "You're just being silly." The Lighthouse rep asked me if I was on drugs.

I can hardly wait to talk to those new companies that have sprung up to help me register for the do-not-call registry. Apparently they have been preying on the unwary to get their Social Security number or other personal information and a fee for their services. I bet I could drive these scam artists nuts, too.

When the Verizon rep called, I asked him why he wanted me to change carriers since they're all one giant company anyway. He tried to convince me that they were all competitors and Verizon could offer me a better deal. But I kept pounding away at my premise that, what with T-Mobile and mLife and roll-over minutes and "no-that's-not-how-we-do-it" nationwide walkie-talkie ads, it was just one big jumble of claims from the same gigantic telephone monopoly. I think, at the end, I almost had him convinced.

I've never figured out how those debt-consolidation firms can tout themselves as non-profit, but I received a call from one called Lighthouse. I told the guy I was glad he called because I needed $100,000 fast or I'd get my knees broken. He was the one who asked me if I was on drugs, but I kept saying that he was in the business of freeing up money and I needed 100 grand, pronto.

I got a little silly-that's what the rep said I was-when I talked to the Craftmatic Adjustable Bed lady. She said that the bed could do wonders for arthritis, asthma and one other disease, the name of which I don't remember, and I said my wife and I had all three. I told her we were averaging two to three hours of sleep a night but that we felt refreshed because we slept on the floor and benefited from the heaving floor boards.

In college, there was a guy we called "Ron Click"-because when he would call girls for a date they would always hang up on him.

I hope to gain the same reputation with telephone solicitors.

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