‘Téléphone‘ by zigazou76 at flickr, CC BY 2.0

In our second Issue Eight sampler, Clementine Ford reminisces about pesto pasta, phone sex and other attempts at adulthood. Our final instalment of Issue Eight teasers is on its way – watch this space!

I’d moved out of home at the start of my second year at university, and the realities of fending for myself were moving into sharp focus. ‘Vegetables’ had become a thing of the past, a distant memory associated with heated living rooms, clean sheets and mothers who made sure you didn’t go to bed with wet hair. My housemate, Sim, and I had taken to cooking the same thing every night – a bag of pasta with a jar of pesto mixed in and half a block of grated cheese.

After dinner, we’d retreat to the back step to smoke cigarettes like the self-assured adults we felt certain we were. On the nights our boyfriends upset us (and Lord knows how we even had them), we’d disappear into Sim’s room and drink vodka straight from the bottle while Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Adia’ played on repeat behind us.

We are so grown up, we’d murmur to each other, reclining in poses we best thought reflected the bored wisdom of our years.

But it had to end. I didn’t have Sim’s metabolism or her genes. I didn’t look like Cate Blanchett in profile. I didn’t look effortlessly chic in my Bonds t-shirt and bootleg jeans. I looked like a freckled dugong in dire need of some vitamins and a decent bra. And for those things, I needed cash.

WANTED: Creative, open-minded ladies for friendly chat line. Enjoy flexible working hours, the potential for excellent salary and the freedom of working at home. Apply within.

The subtext might have been hidden behind a veneer of chirpy professionalism, but I was nobody’s fool. I wasn’t born yesterday. I didn’t have sucker written across my forehead. No, I cracked that code 23 right open. This was no ordinary chat line, set up to service all the lonely folk out there who just wanted a nice lady to workshop Harry Potter theories with, or debate the relative merits of savoury snacks versus sweet. This was a sex thing. They wanted creative, open-minded ladies to chat to men about sex. Harry Potter might come up, but it would likely be in the context of Sirius Black needing to be disciplined by a stern and uncompromising Professor McGonagall.

I could be that person, I reasoned. I could get inside the mindset of a disciplinarian like McGonagall, should it come up. I was creative. I was definitely open-minded, and I knew this because a few months prior I had pulled my top off in a glorious display of authoritarians-be-damned pique at Unibar and danced boisterously to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Come on Over’ in my brassiere. On a chair.

Better still, I now had some kind of practical experience with the whole sex thing. After spending my entire adolescence in the barren wilderness of the chronically untouched, I’d finally found a boy willing to not just press his lips against mine but his groin as well. It made a nice change from my school days, which had been characterised by my innate understanding that I was not the kind of girl who could expect a boy to find her physically attractive.

No, I’d been giving blow jobs and engaging in careful, consensual sex for the better part of two months. Who better than me to bestow their skills of lewd repartee and innuendo on the good men of Australia?

Clementine Ford is a freelance writer and broadcaster living in Melbourne. She now has a pathological fear of answering the telephone, but this is less to do with erotica and more to do with debt collectors.

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