These days, nobody's shocked by anything. What would have caused the most hard-bitten vice-squad dick to blush 50 years ago has become casual conversation fodder on today's junior-high playground. Blasé, jaded indifference is the norm. People don't trust each other, always assuming the worst. Well, don't lump me with that world- weary crowd. You can keep your skepticism, mister, because I'm refreshingly naïve!

That's right, I've decided to make a clean break from the pessimistic masses and embrace the exhilarating world of guileless naïvete! My jaw-dropping ingenuousness provides a refreshing alternative to the nihilism and cynicism that rules the day.

As I was telling the transvestite junkie prostitutes I warmly invited into my home (who have since claimed squatters' rights and pawned my valuables for heroin and hormone treatments), some things are more important than being "savvy" and "streetwise."

When I give my Social Security number and credit-card information to unidentified parties over the phone, I do it without fear, liberated from the wariness and stress one normally experiences during such risky transactions. Doesn't it reaffirm your faith in humanity to know that there's at least one person out there who doesn't expect to be ripped off at every turn?

Every time my next-door neighbor asks me to deliver mysterious, wrapped bundles to an anonymous man in our town's abandoned wharf district, I don't ask why he needs a courier or what's in them. Instead, I feel flattered that he considers my services worth the $50 he gives me after each delivery. I then take that money and contribute it to an unaccredited charity. Or put it toward postage and handling for a free gift I've won in an e-mail sweepstakes.

Aren't I a breath of fresh air in this world of doubters? Call me a holy fool, a simpleton, or a sucker, but you must admit that my gullibility is like a cool breeze on an oppressively humid day.

When you're hopelessly naïve, you meet such interesting people. And your instant reaction is to befriend and trust them! For example, I recently came across a down-and-out man who needed $5 for a bus ticket to Sacramento. Not only did I give him the $5, I gave him an additional $5 to purchase a little liquid refreshment. After all, it was a hot day, and he looked parched as could be. Did I fear that he would blow the money on cheap gin? Of course not! I assumed he would run to the nearest fruit-smoothie stand and buy a delicious, healthful juice concoction with fresh-squeezed strawberries and bananas.

What's that you ask, sir? Certainly, feel free to use my apartment to study the bank across the street with a telescope! It does have a marvelous façade, does it not? The Beaux Arts period in America was short-lived but left us with unparalleled architectural riches. You know, it's strange, I suppose, but you remind me of a young gentleman I recently met at a party, a man to whom I lent $200 for a heart transplant. I never did get his name, but he seemed earnest enough, and I presume I'll receive a check from him in short order.

I am also entirely willing to believe the claims made by the makers of the Fat Zapper, a remarkable electrode-covered girdle that melts fat and tightens muscles in just minutes. Through my rose-colored glasses, the whole world is like one of those splashy ads in the back of an old comic book in which you earn a chemistry set or 10-speed bike by selling a few seed packets or boxes of Christmas cards door-to-door.

Feel free to roll your eyes and cluck your tongue at me. But underneath all that contempt, I know you are mad with envy! Your suspicious nature restricts your possibilities in life and contorts you with fear. I, on the other hand, live freely as an open port of call for every con artist and flim-flam operation that sails through. You'll never meet a bigger sap than me, but you'll never meet a more carefree one, either!

I could elaborate further, but I really should devote the next several hours to sending a chain letter to 10 of my acquaintances. The chain letter instructed me to fold a single dollar in each envelope. That way, when the chain eventually makes its way back to me, I will receive many envelopes full of cash, all for me to keep! But I must make haste, for, according to the letter, if I break the chain, all manner of misfortune will befall me, like lung cancer and eternal spinsterdom. I'm sure everything will work out in the end, though. It always does.