“Good afternoon, stud, are you feeling lonely?”
“Please take me off your call list.” Click. Outbound is the worst.
“Is my big strong honey bear available?”
“Fuck off faggot.” Hey man, I’m just trying to pay for school. Have you heard of the economy? I’m not the only one taking it in the ass here.
This job is easier for the ladies. Sure, I get plenty of bored houseboys and the occasional lonely cougar, but I get hung up on more often than not. Straight guys, though, are a goldmine of pent-up man oil. That white gold. If I could just make my voice an octave or two higher, my commissions would be through the roof.
Paige sits in the cubicle across from me. She’s the best Telephone Sensuality Representative in the whole call center. She’s signing up new accounts every other call. She’s got dudes ducking into bathrooms and broom closets when they should be working. She can make a guy come just by smiling hello into a headset. She’s beautiful.
I hit my mute button on a string of abuse being poured upon my eardrum—from a loyal customer, mind, it’s just what the guy is into—to ask Paige what she’s doing tonight.
“Soaking through my panties for you, as always,” she moans, hits mute. “Probably just Netflixing something, maybe—oh fuck me hard, Mr Johnson!—maybe ordering some take out? Why, are you asking to—come on my big round tits, oh yeah—see me later, Chuck?”
“I just might be—a bad little boy. I SAID I’M A BAD LITTLE BOY, SIR—if you’re interested?” Paige and I have hung out now a few times. Nothing serious yet, but she seems to like me well enough. I’m hoping to take things to that next level sometime soon. She has a kid, so we usually just hang out at her place after bedtime, have a beer or two and talk or watch a movie. Seems like a fairly ideal situation to segue into sexytime to me, but I still have yet to seal the deal.
“Sir, if your cock is hard, my mouth—oh.” He’s already hung up. The little white 4:43 in the bottom-right corner of my screen seems to be mocking me. I swear I saw it tick back a minute, not too long ago. Will it ever be five o’clock?
“I understand sir, I’ll make a note in your file not to call when your wife might be home. You have a good day now!”
Paige comes back from the kitchen carrying two beers. She sets them on the coffee table and shimmies in beside me on the couch. So close, her hip presses up against mine. I turn to find her eyes waiting to meet me, and soon our lips follow suit.
One kiss becomes another and another and soon our lips are parting freely and our tongues become acquainted. Soon our hands become free agents and wander across each other’s bodies to explore. I’m supporting her back with my right hand as the left brushes clumsily against her breast, as if I were trying to paint it the color of my lust. Her hand glides up my thigh like a leopardess stalking its prey. She gets to my crotch and gives the whole bundle a squeeze. My Mighty Stallion doesn’t gallop up to meet her hand like I’d expect, but I blame it on the beer and stumble on blindly.
“I want to fuck you,” I blurt out.
“I don’t want to talk about work.” She disengages. She unpauses the Robert Downey Jr movie that’s been frozen in the background this whole time. When the credits roll, I leave. She smiles sleepily and waves.
“You limp-dick motherfucker” I growl into my headset. My supervisors have instructed me to be more aggressive in my sales technique and I think this is what they mean. The submissives seem to like it, anyway. This, again, is hit-or-miss though, knowing when to initiate and who with. I’ve received more death threats on my outbound calls since we started this push, but the subs are a relatively untapped demographic, and they don’t want to be asked “Sir, if you like I could sexually humiliate you right now, over the phone? If you have a few minutes?” Customer service can sometimes kill the whole vibe and end the call.
“You pathetic piece of shit,” I say to no one in particular, after the click.
In the breakroom, Paige seems to avoid my gaze, but she’s talking to our supervisor, Kyle, so I let it slide. Kyle is a go-getter, a passionate careerist. I always remember the loose slacks he wore to our training class, the boners he popped not only going over sample scripts for man-on-man, but also—I swear—during the company overview when he talked about Our Swelling Market Share. I don’t perceive him as a threat, but he’s cost me an opportunity to exonerate myself to Paige, to get back in her good graces.
She texts me that night, anyway.
“I, uh, brought beer,” I stammer, tenuous at the threshold of her apartment. She grabs my hair and pulls my face to hers, pulls me inside almost on top of her.
We laugh and drink for the better part of two hours on the couch, our kisses tasting of the Guinness I bought to try to be Fancy. This is the happiest I can remember being any time recently.
This time, I know to keep my fool mouth closed when things start getting heavy. Terrified, I try to keep even my breathing as silent as possible. Silently, I nibble on her earlobe. Silently, I lift up her shirt. Silently as possible, I unclasp her bra. It’s working. She kisses me hard and starts to fumble with my belt buckle. But nothing’s happening in there.
I want her so bad I think I’ll burst, but my cock has other ideas. My cock wants to do whatever the opposite of bursting is. My cock has been staring into the middle distance this whole time, and can’t be bothered to rejoin the conversation. It might actually be trying to retreat into my body cavity?
“I have to go to the bathroom!” I rasp, unfamiliar now with the sound of my own voice in this environment. Paige sighs as I extract myself and lurch toward the small door in her hallway.
In the bathroom, I try to give myself a pep-talk, but nothing doing. I hold the deflated balloon of my penis in one hand, and, panicking, punch it four times with the other. It seems to shrug a bit, then immediately returns to doing nothing.
I begin imagining emergencies I may have to rush out to take care of. When I emerge, Paige has put back on her shirt and bra, and fallen asleep with her arms folded protectively. I leave as silently as possible and lock the door behind me.
“Can I interest you in being pissed on?” Click. A German conglomerate has recently bought-out our company and things are getting tense around the office. Kyle and the other supervisors roam the aisles watchfully. I have barely any time to glance across at Paige, let alone attempt a conversation.
“You’re such a disappointment to your mother” I hear her coo, so many cubicles away, it seems.
Miraculously, she invites me over again a few nights later. This time, I will do everything right. My mouth bear-traps itself shut the minute the kissing commences, to words at least. I nurse just one beer all evening long. I haven’t jerked off in days.
But still, when hand meets cock: nothing. She definitely notices this time. I know I have to say something, but I’ve worked so hard to train myself to be silent in these moments. We just stare at each other, expressionless, for far too long. Somewhere out the window I swear I can hear a freight train slowing to a stop.
“Look, just let me pretend to fist you, and let’s get this over with.” Click. My heart just isn’t in the work. Some guys are into that, but none of the ones I’ve called today so far. My conversion rate is terrible, but all I can think about is the empty cubicle across from me.
With minimal grilling in the breakroom, Kyle tells me Paige no-call/no-showed this morning. He’s pissed, but then he’s always at least a little pissed. He never lets it injure his permanent grin.
“Well, I got a different job is all.” I’m standing in my bedroom, looking out the window at the sign for the strip club across the street. I try to imagine its neon lips are Paige’s, which makes every word she says to me a glowing set of twin cherries, bobbing in and out of her mouth as the lights flash back and forth.
“I wasn’t really going anywhere with that company anyway. It’s run by a bunch of sexists.” My ears, throbbing and near feverish with heartbreak, misunderstand this word to mean something like “guitarist.” As in, “one who-” et cetera. I imagine myself strumming, in my cubicle at work, and suddenly all the strings snap at once, and go slack.
“Anyway, Chuck, it’s been really great hanging out with you and all, but I just, I need to focus on this new job right now, and I have to get up so early, and what with my daughter and all, well, I dunno. I just don’t know when I’ll be able to see you again. But, hey, no, it’s been great! Really.”
I’ve prepared the perfect rebuttal for this, I swear, and I begin:
“Paige, listen, I—” Click. She hangs up on me mid-sentence. And with the sound of the receiver slamming down, I feel my cock twitch, finally, erect.
Timothy Volpert is a poet, musician, activist and armchair social theorist from Topeka, KS, where he works for the public library. You may recognize him from a popular Taylor Swift parody video. His work has appeared in *Electric Cereal, Kansas City Voices, *and *Mobius: the Journal of Social Change* among others. His official website is http://tvolpert.tumblr.com