Thursday, October 13, 2005

"You May Now Record" *Beeeep*

Seeing as we've been talking about some of my sordid past recently and I'm in a funky kinda mood, I'm going to elaborate and write how I came upon some of that time of my life...those people, those situations...suffice it to say, I learnt an awful lot about myself.

Years ago (7 being a good number) a good friend of mine picked up the phone extension in her home to dial out and found her daughter was already on the phone...listening to a recording. Daughter hearing that mum had picked up the phone, hung up in a hurry, but it was too late, Mum still had the connection open, her jaw hitting the ground. Her daughter had been playing around on a free phone "chat" line. This is basically how it works. You ring the number (one for men, a different one for women), a recording answers...follow the prompts and eventually get to listen to voices of men (or women) or all ages leaving messages for you to answer. If you choose to respond to someone, you pushed the right number and a tape recorded your message, thus sending it down the phone lines to that particular caller. The caller can of course reply and thus, messages can be zapped back and forth.

Now, as you can imagine, there were some half-arsed and completely off the scale messages from sleazoids galore. My girlfriend rang me saying "Hey, listen to this" (3 way calling)..."This is what my 13 year old daughter has been playing around with". Between the two of us that fateful day, my mate and I had a play around on this line ourselves. We rang and messed around, recording silly messages of witty retorts to various 'players'. It was a bit of immature fun, and I swear I was wittier in those days. Now it's a push and a shove to get a witty line outta me. As far as her 13 year old was concerned, it had become a very dangerous past-time. She had been meeting 'men' in person from that phone line, men that much older than her. This went on to cause no end of grief for her Mum and a downward spiral of self-destruction for this confused young teen.

ANYWAY, (I'm getting there, promise)....if there was one time of the day that I missed having the company after my marriage ended, it was the night times. Yep, you guessed it, I started ringing this phone chat line on my own. I spoke to some very interesting people over the phone via that avenue....some real nutbars and others who were in a similar predicament to myself...lonely and looking for someone to wile away the time talking to. It wasn't unusual for me to spend hours upon hours on the phone at night talking with someone. At times I'd often feel it was my lifeline to the normal world....I felt it kept me sane by communicating with other adults during a particularly difficult time. "Normal" being a hugely operative word in that statement.

Once I'd spoken to them often enough and felt comfortable enough I'd actually end up meeting them in person. The majority of the time I was never keen to bother going that far, just happy to talk to them over the phone. Noone ever knew where I lived and I'd either meet them in a public place for coffee...or stop in for coffee at their place (yeah I know, I can hear ya). Being confused and teetering on the brink of "the good girl that never rebels but wants to at least give it a try", I eventually fell over the edge and slept with a few men. After speaking to someone for hours on end over the phone, I could often feel I knew enough to know whether I wanted to meet them or not. I also felt I was ready for my next adventure and seeing as sex had dried up, I took the plunge. To my way of thinking (as naive as it was at the time), this was almost an ideal situation. I didn't have to yell at someone over the sound of music in a bar, I didn't have to go through all the awkwardness of small talk...we'd already been through all that, just not face to face. I didn't want a full on relationship with anyone....why would I? I'd had that, I needed the time to breathe.

This was an interesting learning curve when it came to "breathing", I can tell you. When I felt ready (this could be a matter of days, sometimes weeks), I'd arrange to meet him on a night when the boys were at their Dad's. Long as the kids were nowhere nearby it felt ok....long as it was well away from my general stomping ground and noone I knew was privvy to seeing me out with someone, it was all ok as far as I was concerned. It was like living a secret life...a dangerous and exciting life that would make friends jaws drop if they knew what I was doing. I slept with 5 men in less than 6 months (altogether now "Skank!")...well one of those men I didn't sleep with until at least a year after I first started talking to him, but there's a good (more bad) reason for that, and I'll get to that another time.

I met many people via that phone line....I met them, didn't sleep with them all...that woulda had me walking like John Wayne. I went out for dinner with ladies and men at various times over the course of those months. I got phone 'stalked' by a young man I slept with once, it went on for several years to the point of having to file a police report....and ended up in some situations I'd much rather forget. I met some extremely lovely people that way, and I met some downright nasties too.

One day, becoming completely bored with listening to the men and their recordings, I hung up and dialled the other number....the number to listen to the ladies and what they were saying. I met someone that day who became very special in my life, still is to this day...little did I know that she was going to eventually change the course of my future.
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