The "real" question

Call endings vary, just like the callers. If they’ve been raised properly, they thank me, even if it was a 5-minute blow-job, and wish me a good night. Sometimes they just hang up, as abruptly as dropping a vibrator on the floor after you’re done with it. (I don’t take it personally, any more than the vibrator does.) But occasionally, one of my callers asks the question:

What do you do in real life?

By that he means, “What do you do when you’re not bringing men to orgasm on the phone?”

Now, I don’t have a problem with the question. It helps keep me grounded in the totality of who I am. So I tell him: I’m a writer. I’m a choreographer. I’m a performer. But I don’t know why he wants to know. Is it just one more detail to add to the fantasy? Is it something like the “hooker with a heart of gold” stereotype? Does it make it better or worse for the caller if I’m a grad student, a dancer, a desperate housewife, a sorority sister getting her kicks, a out-call prostitute resting her cooch, an environmental activist, an underpaid junior-high teacher, a feminist playwright? I’m not sure.

There’s also an issue with definitions: what is “real”? Is the life I lead on the phones, are the encounters with Jason T. and Frank N. and Teddy F. entirely unreal, transient, without metaphysical or emotional value? Because here’s the thing: I have had sessions where the caller cried for a couple of minutes afterward, the cathartic impact was that real. And I have had extremely satisfying sex with my partners that is essentially the same as phone sex, that is, mutual masturbation with dirty-fucking-pig talk.

And this is one of my premises, in all the work I do: Talk, of the dirty-pig variety or otherwise, is real. Talk makes us human, and helps us to interact with others. “It’s just words.” Well, yes. And no. It’s words, but not just. Whether you’re using words to flirt, fuck, or foment social revolution, you’re creating a space in two or more people’s heads where change or challenge or awesome dirty-pig sex–or all of the above!–can take place.

So I will never meet any of my callers, and our talk may end in nothing more than a damp paper towel, but those 10 minutes, exchanging words, are just as real as the rest of our lives.

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