"Hi there, I'm all alone and looking for some company. You don't have to go out to have a good time, so call me and let's chat!"
Her name was Allison. She was beautiful with a voice to match. Could I really be so lucky, turning on the television at the exact moment she began to make her desperate plea? She wore a loosely buttoned blouse that left little to the imagination (if you know what I mean!) and her makeup was pristine. What a waste. All dressed up with nowhere to go on a Friday night.
She didn't seem particularly interested in going out either; she seemed more like the type who'd much rather stay in for a night of stimulating, intellectual phone conversation. Her voice said, "All the hottest singles are waiting to talk to you," but I saw right through it. What she was really saying was, "Why would you waste your time on little, lonely old me when you could be out where the real action is?" Those words hit me hard. Such modesty, purity, and selflessness often go unnoticed in this world, and I was ready to be the one who finally saw this ugly duckling for the swan she truly was.
I promptly dialed the phone number she'd conveniently included in her ad (I didn't recognize the area code as being close, but in this modern age of cell phones it's perfectly reasonable to imagine that someone from 900 would make their way to the 310!) and at first thought I had reached her answering machine. "Hi stud (everyone likes to be complimented), you've reached Livelinks, the hottest party chat line in the world."
In the world! I laughed to myself. That was such an Allison thing to do. She obviously had a heightened sense of irony, because despite appearing to be the loneliest girl in town, her telephone number was also the gateway to a world-class social extravaganza.
I thought about Allison's perfect face and ample bosom (not that I was looking) that complimented her kind soul and yearning for adventure. Next I was prompted (still by the recorded voice, which I presumed to be Allison's even though it sounded a little different, although everyone sounds a tad odd on the phone) to enter my credit card number. I found that weird but quickly dismissed the feeling, assuming it was only meant to screen potential suitors for financial stability, which I totally get. The recorded voice was generally polite, saying "Thanks, hot stuff" and informed me that I was "only seconds away from the girl of my dreams," which really ramped up my anticipation. This was really happening. My life was going to be very different after this.
The recorded voice began to speak very quickly and quite extensively, but in all honesty I wasn't even listening. I thought about Allison's perfect face and ample bosom (not that I was looking ;-)) that complimented her kind soul and yearning for adventure. Little did she know that her life was also about to change in a big way. I bet her last boyfriend was a real jerk. Does she like pad Thai? So many questions ran through my brain, and I hoped she had some great questions for me! I like to think I'm an open book.
Suddenly, I heard the words I was waiting for: "If you're ready to get connected, press 1 now. If you do not wish to connect, or are under the age of 18, please press 2 or hang up now." What, were they crazy? I immediately pressed 1, held my breath, and continued holding it until I heard the voice I'd been waiting my whole life to hear.
"Hey stud, this is Jasmine, how can I fulfill your every desire tonight?"
"Allison?" I asked cautiously.
"You can call me whatever you want."
Oh good, it was her! I was afraid there had been a terrible mix-up and somehow I had dialed the wrong number, abandoning my sweet Allison in her time of need. We began with the formalities: I asked where she was from and what brought her to Los Angeles and she told me she was from the land of T&A and was looking for a real man to punish her for the bad girl she was. How playful!
I knew that this was one wounded dove that was going to need more than one night to heal.At first the whole experience was a little jarring, especially since Allison sounded so different than her commercial AND the recorded voice! Her voice was raspy as though she subsisted on a diet of vodka and unfiltered cigarettes. She sounded older and less engaged than I expected, but I quickly realized that when one spends so many nights alone, yearning for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, they're bound to be a little broken down.
There was a subtext of pain and hesitance beneath her coldness, and I did everything I could to break down the barrier between us. I began calling her Ally, Als, AllisOne, and any other cute nickname I could possibly postulate. I could tell by the way she didn't protest that she saw her nicknames as terms of endearment. We were making real progress here.
Over the course of the next six hours, I laid the ground work for what was sure to be the most important relationship of our lives. She never really seemed interested in having a conversation, but she also didn't seem to be in a rush to get off the phone, so I knew she was playing hard to get. She also kept bringing the conversation back to sex, and some of the things she said were absolutely shocking. I told her, "I know you're just saying those things because you think men EXPECT you to say them, but I'm not interested in all that. I want to know about the real you." This happened several times, and usually led to her describing herself and what she was doing to herself in graphic terms, and I knew that this was one wounded dove that was going to need more than one night to heal.
When it came time to end our conversation, Allison feigned disinterest, but I wasn't fooled. I knew she didn't want to come off as the desperate woman from the commercial, dressed like a whore but clearly not intending to "be that kind of girl," so I promised her I would call again. She told me that she couldn't guaranteed I'd speak to her the next time I called, but any of the other girls would be more than happy to have me call them Allison. I detected a hint of mental instability in that last statement, but I guess that is to be expected from someone who has spent so many of their adult nights alone. We said our goodbyes (or rather I tried to say goodbye but was abruptly returned to the automated menu), and with heavy heart I retired to bed.
The next day I reflected upon the previous night's endeavor and realized that it wasn't a love connection. I couldn't be the man she wanted me to be, and she clearly had some issues to work out that were beyond the scope of my understanding. I never called back, and the only time our paths crossed again was when my credit card company called to tell me that $720 had been charged to my account by an entity known only as "Livelinks." They asked if I wanted to dispute the charge, but I smiled to myself and said no. Allison clearly needed the money more than I did, and if my $720 can help propel her towards a better life, then I've done my part as her friend.
I still see her from time to time, late at night on fledgling cable stations, wallowing away her Friday nights and looking for love. I wish her the best and think fondly on our star-crossed romance, and wonder what could have been.