"We've talked a lot," he says. "I feel like I really know you."
I murmur something sexy but noncommittal while I look idly at his card. First of all, there's just the one card. Considering his first call to me was nearly four years ago, that means that we actually haven't talked that much. My real regulars have three, four, five cards clipped together now. He's just got the one.
And his calling pattern doesn't suggest a whole lot of connection either: seven-minute calls every month or so, followed by a 14-month break, followed another string of sporadic calls, none of them requests until about a month and a half ago, when suddenly he's doing 15-, 20-, 30-minute calls every week to 10 days, and doubling up. Today we did three calls in a row, totaling 75 minutes.
I guess to him it feels like he really knows me. To me, it feels like maybe someone isn't getting proper attention in his love life. I DON'T MEAN the sex isn't working. By his accounts, the sex is stellar. It feels like the pillow talk is lacking, because that's what he's looking for with me. I don't even mean sexy pillow talk, I mean just... talk! He wants to talk so much, and hear me talk, that he keeps running out of time without getting to sex and then calling back for another session. And he's telling me a lot, more than is usual for a caller, even with the longer time blocks.
In the middle of all this reveal, I suddenly flash to scenes in every movie I've ever seen that has phone sex in it, where the caller and the PSO are suddenly making this "real connection", you know, each one of them is hanging out all awkwardly on their own bed, and the camera is flipping back and forth between the two of them just, you know, Being Real, and they're talking about non-sex things, like, arguing about some obscure movie director, and it's Real!
Oh, and it also happens to show that the PSO is a Real, Deeper Person, she's smart and all, too, so props to whoever came up with that fucking set-up, it kinda kills two birds with one stone, right there, in terms of plot development. Three birds with one stone, really, because this magic moment of Being Real is also when you know the relationship is going to somehow be consummated face to face... and I wonder if that's what this caller thinks is going on here. I wonder if he is thinking about, oh, you know, "free and easy" non-sexual conversation in a paid sexual encounter being evidence that it's a deeper connection, it must be, he's a Real, Deeper Person, too, he's obviously not shallow, because he's paying for all of this not-having-sex-just-talking, and that is clearly not the move of a man who is only obsessed with sex.
He mentions that he was a touring drummer for a long time; he does this fake name drop a few times, where he says he doesn't want to name-drop, but these musicians/producers/etc he was recently hanging out with and talking about life and music with, they're pretty well known (but he shouldn't say their names, but They're Famous!). Now he's a self-proclaimed aging hipster in SE Portland, with two walls full of vinyl records, one wall of literature and literary criticism, and a TV on which he is running a "cheesy" interracial (straight) gang bang porno (sound off). He feels a little guilty, he says, about spending a Monday night watching cheap porno and talking to a phone sex operator. I laugh and say, I don't know, that sounds like a great way to spend a Monday night. I tell him to keep wanking to the porno, but to stop calling himself any kind of hipster, that is not a label that one can apply to oneself. He has told me in the past a little about the music that he's doing now; in this particular phone call, he tells me about the copywriting executive he's currently fucking. We talk about Powell's Books. You'd be stunned how much I spend there, he says. No, I wouldn't, I say. I know how tempting the stores are.
I reveal to him little things, just to keep a ring of authenticity in my voice and because there is not room for an entirely new persona on the front of an index card. But I mix it up between true and false. I know about Powell's Books (true), or I mostly wear glasses (true), I have reddish-blonde hair (false), I wear cowboy boots (true), I was a semi-professional modern dancer (false, although I did dance) and now am a writer and perform other things (true). I try to give him enough to forestall any deeper questioning, offering only part of the truth.
Yes, and during the first two calls of the series, I was super careful to check in with him about the timing; I didn't want him to think that I was deliberately trying to distract him, string him along. I'm just following his lead, I assure him, and he says he knows it's true.
It is true, but in spite of the needed boost to my call volume today, I kinda wish he'd go ahead and just get off already. The pressure of "being real" is wearing on me a little.