JOURNALISTS GET a lot of mail from a lot of strange places, or used to.
Most of my print mail now comes from two sources: Charities seeking money and Victoria's Secret. I prefer the latter.
Almost everything else is electronic, whizzing to me via email and text.
Most of the snail mail we get comes from publicists, politicians, convicts, other kinds of shut-ins, people needing help, people cursing us out and - Victoria's Secret.
Last week, I got an unusual request by email, from an unusual place.
No, not a Nigerian prince who offered me $5 million just for helping him.
No, not a South African telling me I am needed for the deposit of an overpayment on a procurement contract. (South Africa warns about this scam on its website.)
Not even from Donald Trump asking me to send him money to prove Barack Obama is a Nigerian prince.
The email came from Dmitriy Golovin, a Russian who collects "souvenirs from various corners of the wide world and this has turned into a hobby," he says. Amazingly, his did not ask for a $10 bill as the souvenir. He left that entirely up to me.
From around the world, he has received "handles, badges, charms, coins, souvenirs with symbols of cities and countries. It makes me happy," he says.
That's why I'm in business, to make people happy. Heh, heh.
So while I was trying to figure out what Dmitriy was calling a "handle," I asked Facebook friends what I should ship him, as a souvenir of Philadelphia.
Right off the bat, Steven Sigal cracked wise: "Coroners report from a homicide investigation."
Well, that kind of kills the spirit of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection), doesn't it?
"The 2 women fighting at the Xmas tree lighting," offers Diane Donovan.
You're not getting the idea.
"How about a DVD of last night's Christmas Tree lighting to illustrate our city's spirit of good cheer?" offers WHYY's Ed Cunningham, surrendering to a rare attack of snark.
"I would send him a family pack of Tastykakes along with a Phillies Phanatic hat," says Ricci Apfelbaum Konczyk. Finally, someone has the right spirit!
"A map of Northeast Philadelphia for when he soon moves there," contributes Steven Brush, aware that many Russian immigrants settle up there.
"Liberty Bell. And souvenir from all our sports teams," suggests Fran De John.
Yeah, team! More!
"How about a picture showing a chalk outline of a body, with a Santa hat lying nearby, with the caption, 'Festive Holiday Greetings from Killadelphia,' " goes Barry Wahrhaftig, and we're back to that again.
"I like that you're thinking classy Stu, not Philly stereotype. Copy of the Declaration of Independence and assorted Philly postcards are lightweight and get no customs inspection like a box will have," advises Roberto Roque.
A couple of readers suspected my new, best friend Dmitriy was fishing for a right address to go with my right name.
A suspicious Bill Whiting suggests "a Liberty Bell shake-up snow globe. And put the wrong return address on it."
I like the snow-globe idea, but they are all made in China and I'll be damned if I send a snow globe from China to a guy in Russia as a souvenir of America. I want something from right here.
I decided on postcards depicting LOVE Park and Boathouse Row, plus a Phillies refrigerator magnet.
Kathleen MacConnell suggests, "Love Park statue desk souvenir." I know they have nice desktop pencil sharpeners. Anyone use pencils anymore?
Tim Kelly says, "Soft pretzel, laced with exhaust fumes and handled by someone who did not wash his hands."
You had to go and ruin it, didn't you Tim?
The most deliciously wicked idea came from Alicia Oxenhorn: "Send him a copy of the Flyers vs. Russia game." Ouch.
I'll close with a comment from Rose A. Valenta that just tickled me:
"He should have come right out and asked for a goat, why beat around the bush?"