I know you're there, I can hear you breathing
There is a lot more silence in my work than I would have thought, had I been thinking at all about phone sex before I started doing it. And there are enough different kinds of silence that I would be fully justified in developing separate words for each…
- That silence between calls when I don’t have any of my other work to do, so I’m waiting for the ring and it’s not there. It’s echoingly empty, slightly resentful, a vacuum that goes on for-fucking-EVER.
- The silence you get on the street at 2:30 in the morning, when that other silence gets too much and I need to relieve the pressure on my ears. Outside, the silence is calm and dark and velvety, and I relax into it.
- The slightly staticky silence after the dispatcher calls me and I’m waiting for the caller’s phone to ring. That’s a busy silence, where I’m taking the two sentences the dispatcher gave me about what the guy likes and brewing up ways to get there. (Because no matter how many times I take a fart call, I just CAN’T figure out how to be smooth about it.)
Anyway, the silence that I’ve been thinking about most these days is more transient than these, harder to pin down because it blows by in my calls and I don’t even realize it’s there until afterwards, when I replay the conversations in my head and occasionally wonder, “How did I know to go there when the guy hardly talked at all?” It’s those sporadic silences, blinking open and closed like eddies in a rushing river of narrative, that I am learning to love.
There is where I catch my breath, and rather than immediately plunging back into the story, I sit still, even for a fraction of a second, and wait. And listen. I am silent, and the caller thinks he is being silent, too. But I can hear the creak of a chair, the slight whispering squelch of a well-lotioned hand, an involuntary intake of breath. Sometimes I even imagine that I can hear his brain humming along at high speed, like the subliminal whirr of a roomful of very expensive computers.
The quiet is not just for me. It is the space I make for my caller to sigh, or moan, or say yes, or add three more teenage girls into the scene, each with slightly different nipple sizes. Lacking visual cues, I need verbal ones, and there must be space for the caller to give them. I used to talk over my callers a lot, when I first started. I’m slowly learning to find the natural rhythm of the action, and when each phrase within our call comes to its natural conclusion, I pause. I wait. I am silent.
And then, because I only have 15 minutes, or 10, or 7, I take a deep breath and dive back in.
(I just realized that silent and listen are anagrams. That is exactly perfect.)