This truly is an egalitarian age. For proof, look no further than premium-cost phone chat-lines.
Once these were the sole preserve of men. Sad, weird or lonely men. These days chat-lines are enthusiastically marketed at women via TV, magazines and a terrifyingly enormous number of specialist websites.
You’ll notice I’ve said “chat-line” as opposed to “sex-line”. We all know the point of these services, but the industry likes to sell itself as more innocent. So they use terms like “chat-line”, “make friends” or “let’s party”.
However, this can cause confusion in befuddled minds like mine. Recently a young lady on television informed me she was at a really happening party, and wouldn’t I like to be there?
The way she was smiling pleasantly and twirling her hair convinced me this lass was of thoroughly agreeable character. And the fact she was naked and straddling a chair convinced me she wasn’t lying about how hot that party was.
So I called, eagerly anticipating a roaring good time: drinks, canapés, light yet intelligent conversation. However, it proved a terrible letdown:
Party girl: Hi, you’ve reached the party-line. We’re only getting started…
Me: Hi, how’s the party going? Many showed up yet?
Girl: Ooh, yeah, baby. All sorts of gorgeous girls here, waiting for you…
Me: Anyone I know? I don’t like going to functions where I don’t know anyone. Get a bit nervous, you know yourself.
Girl: Um…I’m sure we’ll all get really friendly. Tell me what you desire in…
Me: Do I bring my own booze or what? Don’t wanna look cheap, turning up without a bottle.
Girl: Um…it doesn’t matter what…
Me: Maybe you should tell me what you have already. I think there’s a bottle of Malibu lying around somewhere? Ooh, and I’ll bring nachos. A party’s gotta have nachos, right?
Girl: Listen, I don’t know what your game is…
Me: C’mere, what kind of sounds you got? Please tell me it’s not all rave.
Girl: I’ve had enough of…
Me: I could bring some old funk albums? Guaranteed to get your booty shakin’!
Girl: I’m hanging up. If you call again I’m getting the police.
Me: How odd. We seem to have been disconnected. And I didn’t even get the address.
A few days later, a different girl declared in a magazine advert, “We love to chat.” Who better to call when seeking a friendly ear? Oh, how wrong I was….
Chat-line girl: You’ve reached 0800 Naughty Chat. Where the talk is hotter than…
Me: How’s she cuttin’?
Girl: Hey there, you sexy thing. Want to know what I’m wearing?
Me: Listen, I have to tell you this. You’ll never guess who I met today.
Girl: I think I can… A sexy girl in a negligee?
Me: No, silly! It was Fr Curtin. Hadn’t seen him in years. Remember him? From the boys’ school. Gammy eye. Always told Kerryman jokes.
Girl: Uh…sounds hot. Do you want to invite…
Me: Anyway, that’s my little bit of news. What’re you up to yourself?
Girl: Right now I’m running my hand…
Me: C’mere, did you ever finish that ould FÁS course? Hairdressing. Or is that your sister I’m thinking of?
Girl: What are you…?
Me: Ah, must be the sister. I’m always mixing up the pair of you.
Girl: I don’t have a sister. Who is this?
Me: I suppose you’ll be planting the ould roses and shrubs and whatnot now, for summer. Ah yeah. The bit of a garden is lovely…
Me: How odd. I seem to have been disconnected again. (pause) And blast, I never found out if she remembered old Curtin or not.
- First published in the Irish Independent April 6