Jenny, go buy that number: 867-5309 can be yours for a song

Times being what they are, people are taking a long hard look around the garage to see what kind of unwanted stuff they could sell off. A few people, though, are looking beyond old books and CDs.

Mike Jones, the escort who ruined preacher Ted Haggard by exposing their meth-fueled gay dalliances together, is trying to make his own ends meet by hawking a truly awful painting of himself on eBay. The artwork is of a much more muscular Mr. Jones fondling himself in a jockstrap, which Jones describes as, "a portrait of myself that I was hoping to keep as a reminder as I reach my golden years in my life, to remind me of what I used to look like. Bids started at $50 and are currently at $200 (don't click on that one if there are children--or people with taste--in the room).

I can understand if you don't want to own a reminder of anyone's decaying self-image, especially if you already have a Velvet Elvis, but what would you say to owning one of the most memorable phone numbers in America? The number 867-5309, made infamous by the insidiously catchy 1982 song by Tommy Tutone, is up for grabs. If you're of a certain age, that number is burned forever into your frontal lobe.

"The minute we plugged the phone jack into the wall, it began ringing," said its seller, Spencer Potter, a New Jersey DJ who obtained it on a lark. Hard to imagine that could ever grow old, yet five years later, he decided to sell off the number's assignment in order to make a buck.

The number is for the 201 area code, but there are are versions all over the country. Someone tried to sell the 212 version a few years ago, but a telephone company objected and eBay halted the auction. This time, since Potter has tacked on his deejay business along with the number (a meaningless gesture, since he can just start another one), so far it has passed muster with eBay and it's still on the block. The auction ends Monday, and more than $365,000 in bids have already been placed. I sure hope for Potter's sake that they pay up.

The number's toll-free, 800 and 888 versions are owned by someone else, who happens to be the same person, and he estimates their value as being in the millions. That guy declined a $1 million offer from a weight-loss company. I think he should have taken it. These famous addresses and trends have a way of being obsolete quickly. All the owners of Pennsylvania 6-5000 get for their famous number is a monthly phone bill.

And for the record, I officially apologize to you for writing this post. Even if you didn't suffer the consequences of peeking at that kitschy painting of Mr. Jones, that stupid song is going to be stuck in your head for a while.

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