I'M NO PRUDE. But it still seems shocking when I read the classified advertising in this newspaper -- my home away from home for 23 years -- to see the "personals" and "escort" services ads sunk so low.
Maybe it's a measure of how tough times are that advertisements for $3-a-minute "single girls" and $2.49-a-minute "hot 1-on-1" help pay my reporter's salary.
And maybe it's a measure of how deranged this society has become that one recent edition had more than 30 different ads for the likes of "the wildest adult messages," "do me," "exotic nasty girls" and "hot talk -- live girls" (must be 18, and non-necrophiliac).
There are "dream girls" for $2 a minute, "night dreams" starting at $10.95 for 10 minutes, and "hot fantasies" with "non-stop action" at $1 a minute.
"SHOCKING Women Reveal Desires" -- at $1.95 a minute. It's the same stuff that's come to plague late-night television, only it's much more graphic on TV.
None of these services, so far, seems to offer TTY print-outs for the hearing-impaired, but since that technology has become so common, the service can't be long in coming.
After all, "voicemail" has arrived -- with "voicemail confessions" allowing participants to "connect with other callers revealing innermost secrets" at $1.95 a minute. Soon, the telephone fantasy merchants likely will be calling us -- using computerized dialing and messages like those offering prize trips or replacement windows. Some might even employ "live" callers, like those who interrupt dinner with a sales pitch for cemetery lots.
Then there will be "voicemail" fantasies: "Touch 1 for foot fetishes, touch 2 for handcuffs, touch 3 for group sex . . ."
We've come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell made a call to the next room in 1876 to say, "Watson, come here! I need you."
Now we have 1-900-BEG-BABY.
Samuel F.B. Morse was a tad more eloquent when he tapped out that historic first message on his electric telegraph in 1839 -- and you could say it again for what has become of communications technology in the Year of Our Lord, 1991:
"What hath God wrought!"
David Michael Ettlin is a reporter for The Sun.