I have many secrets - and most of them will remain secret. But for Sunday Scribblings, I'll spill one:
Some of you are familiar with my breathy, little-girl voice. Previously, I've written about the effects of my voice on the telephone: either the caller asks to speak to my mother or is intrigued and wants to know more about me. I've told you about a man in San Francisco who liked my voice so much, he kept phoning me on silly pretenses. One day he showed up at my office, hoping to meet me. It wasn't the first time that had happened. What I didn't tell you is that a man I met in the course of a news story found my voice appealing and offered me a job as a phone sex operator.
He and his girlfriend took me out to lunch and tried to tempt me with a) money; b) the stories I could regale readers with and c) the interesting things I'd learn about men. A newspaper editor tried to encourage me to masquerade as a phone sex operator for the story value. Posing as my concerned boyfriend, he went with me to the company's upscale offices off Market Street. We were both curious to see how their business was conducted.
Predictably, women - some of them hugely fat; others dressed chicly in the styles of the moment - sat in cubicles, moaning "Oh,baby," etc. etc. into the phone, while knitting a sweater or filing their nails. They seemed jaded and bored, as they murmured whatever the men on the other end of the phone wanted to hear. It was a sad environment, with the business owner raking in tons of money from apparently lonely and needy callers.
I told the editor - and the owner who'd offered me the job - I couldn't do it, even for a day. The business owner couldn't believe I wouldn't take advantage of my "sexy voice," to "make lots of money," but the editor was relieved. He seemed disillusioned by the matter-of-fact business-like environment at the phone sex office. Perhaps he was expecting women to be sitting around in various stages of undress while talking about sex to strangers?
Ironically, in New York my voice once proved detrimental in a job interview. A female executive at a public relations agency wouldn't hire me because she thought my voice "wasn't strong enough or authoritative enough." She had a raspy cigarette-fueled voice, so I told myself she was just jealous.