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The road — and the magazine — not taken

A magazine came to my house. I did not subscribe to this magazine. I had not ordered it. And yet it came.

A magazine came to my house. I did not subscribe to this magazine. I had not ordered it. And yet it came.

So I read it. There were lots of articles in this magazine, thought-provoking articles. There was fiction, too — the "literary" kind. And there were cartoons. They were thought-provoking as well. In fact, I couldn't understand some of them. And yet, I liked this magazine.

The magazine was not addressed to me, though. It was addressed to Anthony Locatelli, a man I had never heard of. Yet the street address on the subscription label was — and I checked carefully — mine.

Who was this Anthony Locatelli who was supposed to be living at my address?

I searched the house. Although it's not such a big house, we have some odd corners where no one ever goes. But there was no Anthony Locatelli lurking in any of them.

I thought that perhaps my son had rented out the basement to make an extra buck. But when questioned, he denied doing so with conviction.

I Googled "Anthony Locatelli," but I was unable to find anyone by that name living anywhere near me.

I could, I thought, call the magazine's subscription department. But I figured it was probably a fluke and wouldn't happen again.

The next week, however, the magazine came again. (Did I mention that it was a weekly magazine?) And this issue was even better than the first. On the label, a slight adjustment had been made to Anthony's hometown, but it was still my street address and zip code.

I tried Googling Anthony with the new town information. No luck.

I really had to call that subscription department. But you know how it is — you're put on hold, you're told to dial "1" for this and "4" for that, and it takes such a long time to get to a person. I didn't have time for that. I was too busy reading this fine magazine.

I felt different when I read this magazine. I felt smarter — classier.

The magazine came again the next week, and the one after that. It kept coming for a month.

Then there was a week when Anthony and I did not get the magazine. I thought that my time with the magazine, sadly, had come to end, that at last it had gone to its rightful owner.

But it turned out that once or twice a year, the magazine does a biweekly issue. The next week, the magazine and I were reunited.

Another month went by, and the magazine still appeared in my mailbox every week. I began to think of Anthony and me as partners. While I didn't know how Anthony was doing, I was becoming sophisticated. I knew things I hadn't known before. I could converse on a higher level.

Anthony and I had a good thing going.

One day, a letter addressed to Anthony came to my address. Surely someone who subscribed to such a scintillating magazine, with ads for such expensive things, would like to contribute to Philabundance.

The next day, Anthony was invited to take out a membership with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And the day after that, he was wanted as an anchor subscriber to the new Barnes.

Yes, I opened those letters. Oh, sure, they had Anthony's name on them. But they were sent to my address.

I got my last piece of Anthony's mail not long ago. It was a letter from the magazine.

I opened it. The people in the subscription department were hoping that Anthony was enjoying their fine magazine. They wanted to make sure he knew his subscription would lapse in a couple of months. Surely he would like to renew now and avoid any gaps in his receipt of the fine magazine.

So I finally called the subscription department.

We had a good run, Anthony and I. Now I know that he lives 200 miles away, so he probably doesn't frequent the Barnes or the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And I will probably never know why my address became his for a time. (They called it a "computer glitch.") But I'll sure miss his fine magazine.

Alison McDonough lives in Langhorne. She can be reached at