Saturday, March 02, 2013

Tales from a Quaker Phone Sex Operator (Full Version)

I posted this full column too early and had my hand gently slapped by the powers that be. Now, however, the entire piece can be shared with you. It was originally published by Friends Journal in its March edition.

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Loving the Difficult People by Karen Ainslee (Not her real name)

A phone-sex operator as a spiritual healer? No, I didn’t start out the work with this intention. But that is where the path led.

“You’re a sweetheart, Karen. Always have been,” the caller tells me in his heavy Appalachian accent.

“Thanks, Wyatt. I try to be,” I reply. “You are, too.”

“I mean it, Karen. You’ve always been a sweetheart.”

I repeat my comment, and try to move the conversation toward something else. Wyatt has a tendency to go on and on with these platitudes. It’s not that he lacks intelligence—far from it. What he does lack are good verbal skills, especially a good emotional vocabulary. He’s an industrial engineer and comes from a family who did not particularly value education or the ability to be articulate. Nonetheless, my relationship with Wyatt has been among the most intimate of my life.

It’s not a relationship between equals; it’s more like a parent-child or therapist-client relationship. I am a phone-sex operator, and Wyatt was one of my customers for over six years, until that relationship reached the limits of usefulness to him and we became “friends,” or at least social acquaintances. Although I still know him only over the phone, I have his real name and address and carry a photo of him in my wallet.

I love him.

I love him for his courage, for he has survived truly horrendous abuse as a child. I love him because I have journeyed with him into some of the darkest places in his mind, and I cannot be that intimate with someone without loving him. I love him for his spirituality, for, although his fundamentalist Southern Baptist religious style is quite different from my own, I know that spirituality is a real force in his life, something that helps him stay more or less sane.

“I wake up every day and thank God I have never killed anyone,” he told me once. And, another time, “I have seen evil, face to face.”

In addition to his abuse, Wyatt has suffered other losses. His high-school sweetheart, to whom he was engaged to marry, died at a very young age (I have never found out the cause of her death). That same year, his best friend died in a traffic crash, and two other significant people died within two years (I also do not know any details about who they were or how they died).

The full link is here.

1 comment:

Vince Stead said...

I just got done reading your article, and really enjoyed it, thank you. Here is a really fun book and audio that just came out about a real full time phone sex operator that wrote a book called: “Pillow Talk: A Glimpse Into the Calls to a Phone Sex Operator”. You can also find this at fun2readybooks-com