Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ricky Sprague's Tales of Regret

I left Indiana, the state in which I’d grown up and spent most of my 18 years, for college in the muddy and uninviting city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. My first two weeks living in the dorms at the University of New Mexico were intimidating and scary for this simple Hoosier farm boy, in spite of the presence of the girlfriend I’d moved out to join. Nights were spent crying myself to sleep, listening to Tom Waits’ saddest songs, like “Ruby’s Arms,” “On the Nickle,” “A Bad Liver and A Broken Heart,” and “Martha.”

Early one morning, around three am, my phone rang. I hoped it might be my girlfriend, offering to let me sleep with her. I jumped out of the bed and raced to the phone on the far wall.

“Hello, baby!” I said, fully expecting it to be my gf.

“Hello,” a voice breathed. “What are you wearing?”

I was a bit groggy from sleep, and my own heart was pounding so loud I could hear it in my ears, so I couldn’t quite tell if the voice on the other end of the line was gf’s. It could have been her, using her sexiest, smokiest voice. Her sexphone voice. I had never heard her sexphone voice before; in fact I had just made it up. Nevertheless, if gf had had a sexphone voice, I was pretty confident this is what it would sound like. What it in fact did sound like. “T-shirt and underwear,” I said.

“That’s nice,” the voice said. “Do you want to play with me on the phone?”

“Uhm, what you got in mind, baby?” Gf’s room was in the same building as mine, so I could have just gone over there, if she’d wanted to play. But if she wanted to have some kinky phone sex, why not?

“Put your hands in your underwear,” the voice said.

“Okay, I’ve got my hands in my underwear,” I lied. The phone was on the wall on the other side of the room from my bed, as I’ve already said, and there wasn’t even a chair nearby. Complying with the voice’s suggestion would have been uncomfortable, and I was still pretty tired, since I’d only gotten a few hours sleep before the call.

“What are you doing now?” the voice asked.

“Hey listen, baby, this is kind of uncomfortable. Why don’t I just come over to your room?”

The line went dead.

Now I felt bad. My gf had been trying to play a kinky phone sex game, and I had ruined it by suggesting I should just come right over. That was the opposite of romantic; I should have played along and masturbated with her over the phone like she’d suggested. Okay, I would play along. I would show her just how romantic I could be.

I dialed her room. “H’lo?” she answered groggily. She almost sounded like I’d woken her up.

“Sorry about that, baby,” I said. “Anyway, I’m completely naked and ready to play!”

“Richard?” she asked, astonished. “Are you on drugs?”

“What? No; I’m just returning your erotic phone call. I’m ready to put my hands… in my underwear…” then I had an appalling thought. “Did you just call me and ask me to put my hands in my underwear?”

“No. If I called you and asked you to do that, I would have told you it was me,” she explained sensibly.

“Oh, sorry. Somebody just called me, and I thought it was you, perhaps using what I’d called in my mind your ‘sexphone’ voice. It really wasn’t you?”

“Yes, it wasn’t me. I’d tell you if it was. I’m tired; I really need to go to sleep now. We can talk tomorrow.”

I went back to bed, slightly freaked out. Good night, who belonged to that sexphone voice, I wondered? At least I didn’t cry myself to sleep.

Next morning, around three am, the phone rang again. Could it really be that same person again, I thought, as I staggered across the room to the phone.

It was. “Where are your hands?” the voice asked.

“On my desk,” I said, annoyed.

“Where are you?” the voice asked.

“I’m talking to you on the phone,” I was still annoyed.

“And where are your hands?”

“I just told you, they’re on the desk! Are your ears on backwards???” (I had been listening to my “Grover Sings the Blues” record that night.)

The person hung up. I crawled back into bed, but this time I was troubled. Perhaps I’d been too mean. I shouldn’t have snapped at sexphone voice. This was clearly a lonely person looking to make some kind of connection with someone. Apparently, our conversation the night before had led him/her to believe that s/he had made that connection with me. And here I had probably hurt his/her feelings by being short with him/her. The thought made me sad, and disappointed in myself. Having phone sex with this person would be a form of charity, and I so rarely gave to charity (I was poor). I resolved that the next time s/he called, I would play along.

And boy did I! The next morning, at around three am, this person called back. And with this person I wove a veritable Bayeux Tapestry (I was taking an Art history class) of phone eroticism. Oh, was that person ever satisfied. For my part, I kept my hands out of my underwear the entire time. It wasn’t about me at all; it was about sexphone voice.

Next night I spent with my gf, but I left her room at about 2:45 am so that I could be sure to be back to my own room to catch the call. After we were done I said, “Sounds like you had a good time.”

“I did, yes, thank you,” the voice said.

“Why do you do this? Why do you call me? How did you get my number?”

“It was random,” the voice said. “I just dialed. I don’t know who you are or anything.”

“I don’t know anything about you, either,” I said. There was a long, awkward silence at the end of which I said, “Maybe we should meet some time. Just to say hi.”

Another long, awkward silence. Then the voice said, “Okay,” tentatively.

We arranged to meet in the Student Union the next day. I had classes scheduled but this was clearly more important.

I have no idea what I expected. I have no idea who I thought I would meet. Turned out, he was pasty-skinned with thinning brown hair and dried, cracked lips. While his Starfleet uniform had clearly just been laundered, it was ill-fitting and faded (he’d had it since his junior year of high school, when he’d been slightly smaller). His Chuck Taylor's were pretty cool.

After that, our phone conversations just weren’t the same. Far from feeling charitable, I started to feel-- I don’t know quite how to put this, but I think “dirty” is the closest word I can think of. Finally, one night, instead of offering erotic release I provided him with the number of the university’s psychological help center. I told him that he should probably get some help, and to please stop calling me.

I then went over to my gf’s room and sexed her up.

I regret meeting sexphone voice in person. Putting a face with the voice made my charitable work impossible. Who knows what kind of selfless person I might have grown into if I’d been able to continue to help one person to feel better about himself?

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