‘I’m just going for a normal one,’ says H decisively.
‘Not Barely 21 or Mature Ladies?’
‘Are you sure?’
It is, I suppose, slightly unfair to tease him over his choice of live chat line, when it’s my fault he has to choose one at all. I have had, you see, a rather genius idea. Something to ratchet up the sense of jeopardy a little bit, add a little frisson. I have offered to give Herbert a blow job while he rings a sex chat line.
My reasoning runs thus: it’s a monogamous way of almost having a threesome. Also, I have noted Herbert’s enthusiasm for talking dirty, and wonder if this might be just the thing. Actually, scrub that, it’s not entirely honest: I am hoping to put him in a situation where he feels as awkward as I do around all this erotic conversation. There’s a slightly vengeful part of me that wants to put him outside his comfort zone.
It is heartening, therefore, to see that he feels the need to down two beers before he can even open the back pages of Time Out to find a suitable phone number.
‘Dutch courage?’ I say, and he blushes. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen him blush before.
I’m the one losing their nerve now. ‘You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to,’ I say. ‘I mean, it’s only worth it if you think it would be fun.’
He sighs. ‘It does sound fun. It’s fine. Just don’t make me call anyone too specialist.’
‘Fine,’ I say, and go upstairs to put on some lipstick. When I come back down again, H is sitting naked in the armchair in my study, phone in hand. He’s thoughtfully placed a cushion at his feet so that I can kneel on it. I am somehow rather touched by this.
He wastes no time in dialling, and so I begin to lick his still-soft penis in haste. H is capable of being overtaken by startling bouts of shyness, and so I’m convinced that we need to achieve an erection before he starts talking, or else there’s no hope. But the opposite happens: as soon as the woman answers, his dick does a little jump for joy. I can hear his voice above me, strangely lost and breathy:
‘Hello? Oh, hello, Erica. . . My name’s Herbert . . . I’m thirty-eight . . . You’re thirty? What colour hair do you have?’
What? I think, Why is that relevant? She’ll be blonde, I guarantee it.
‘Erica,’ he says, ‘I’ve got a naughty confession to make.’ I glance up at him, hoping he will catch my eye and smirk, but it appears that he’s saying this with no irony whatsoever. ‘My wife is with me. She’s sucking my cock.’
Oh yuck, I think. I suppose I couldn’t expect him not to tell her, but now I am wondering what on earth Erica thinks of me. It brings to mind the wife of the vile man in There’s Something About Mary, who merrily fellates her husband while he watches the football.
‘She’s got brown eyes and mousy brown hair.’ Mousy? He might as well tell her about the grey flecks as well.
‘Oh, would you? Mmmm . . . Yes, I’d like to watch that.’ Erica has, of course, now said she’d like to get it on with me. She knows her male fantasies, I’ll give her that. ‘Your favourite fantasy? Yes, tell me then . . . Mmmm . . . Mmmm . . . Mmmm . . . Three cocks . . .’ How would that even work in real life? ‘Yes, that does sound a bit greedy.’ He keeps closing his eyes and groaning. I’m beginning to worry about the state of the phone bill. I suck harder, and start to mentally rehearse my 36p-per-minute times table. This soothes me among the ‘Mmmms’ and ‘Ohs’.
He doesn’t do any of his own dirty talking really; he mainly just listens. So this is what he wants when he requests dirty talk. I just couldn’t bear to spew out that pile of clichés, and in any case, H knows me too well to believe them. Frankly, I am in awe of Erica for making them sound so convincing.
I consider for a moment whether I could learn something from her, but then a much more delightful thought hits me: I’m outsourcing. The wonders of advanced capitalism are making it possible for me to hive off a particularly tiresome element of my sexual duties. Excellent. Worth every penny of the fiver it’s going to put on my phone bill.
The second bonus is that all this female attention moves Herbert to orgasm with unusual speed. He announces it – twice – to both of us, and then thanks Erica politely for her time. I wonder if I should yell a ‘Cheers, Erica!’ towards the handset too, but I prefer to leave her wondering whether Herbert isn’t faking his extremely compliant wife.
This is an extract from The 52 Seductions by Betty Herbert