|The London Times|

Back to anecdotal journalism again!
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007 at 7:37 a.m.

Sooner or Later

Heavy Breathers in Sheep’s Clothing
A new class of anonymous sexual callers strike—but you might not even know until it’s too late!

Anonymity has always been a feature in the quest for a sexual thrill, from the oldest women’s profession to the masked masquerade balls of Renaissance Venice through to today when for many a night out drinking isn’t complete without the sense of conquest and excitement that comes with managing to take someone—a complete stranger in most ways—home. There is something in this anonymity that allows us to lose ourselves in simply the body we inhabit—we have no personality or preconceptions with which to contend, and so what the body wants the body gets, and usually this leads to a total inhibition that can be intoxicating. When the two people involved (or more as the case may be!) are both (or all!) complicit in this game it is typically great naughty fun, but when the anonymity is one-sided, then there is no longer an even playing field.

Even prank phone calls in the past have been clear pursuits for anonymous sexual excitement. The receiver may not have wanted to participate, and perhaps felt deeply disgusted, but she at least understands what is happening. Most of us are not so innocent to believe that that heavy breather on the other end of the line just ran up a long flight of stairs and then dialed a wrong number.

But with the modern technology that allows sexual deviants to force their anonymity on others having been around for a long time, some of these callers have gotten a lot smoother. In fact, they’ve become downright crafty—the masterminds of their sort! They’ve devised plots now that revolve around a kind of benign anonymity. In other words, they still maintain they are strangers calling and so there is that retained lack of identity, but they are not overtly sexual—the victim no longer understands that she is participating in the sort of call that is leading to the same conclusion as the heavy breather. Ironically, if she falls for this plot (which I did!) and responds to the perceived identity of that person, the caller gets even more out of it than if she were responding to the secret heavy breather that he actually is.

Though this heavy-breather-in-sheep’s-clothing is often very common on the internet, I’m focusing on the original technology that allowed this sort of call to begin—the telephone. Though my particular experience happened on the mobile, the principal is still the same all these years later—but with a twist.

It was a Saturday morning and I had no plans until the evening. I was contemplating whether to actually tackle the piles of glasses in my sink when the mobile started to chirp, and thinking it was a friend calling to make plans for shopping or going to the park I immediately forgot the dishes and went to answer. Instead of the American girl’s voice I was expecting, it was a thick Scottish accent, informing me that he was a graduate student from the University of Edinburgh, conducting a survey. He took the time to carefully explain that he had been able to dial my mobile by a random computer-selected pattern of numbers, and he wanted to just ask several questions about what sort of awareness I had on AIDS and other STDs, and what I thought about the effectiveness of recent advert campaigns. He seemed completely legitimate, and it didn’t even cross my mind that it was anything but an academic-natured call.

Once we got through the preliminaries he asked, “What sorts of ads have you noticed?”
“How effective do you think they are?”

“What sort of education have you or your friends received?”

“How aware are you of different STDs?”

“Do you and your friends discuss being sexually safe?”

“How careful are you in using protection?”

“How old were you when you first learned about these dangers?”

Now even though I went to Catholic Schools, I did grow up in San Francisco, and so we always had very healthy and matter-of-fact sex education. I can definitely separate my own sexuality from the thought of sex, and when talking about it in a more clinical way I can be very detached. So I had no real qualms about talking to this guy for his survey. In fact I felt extra helpful, as if I were doing my good deed for the day (which in retrospect I’m sure he would agree with, but for quite different reasons!). But then he subtly became more personal, and I almost didn’t even notice.

“What sort of contraception do you use now, or have you used in the past?”

“How old were you when you had your first sexual experiences?”

“How many partners have you had?”

I figured that these were normal questions, because you have to draw correlations between people’s behaviors and practices with their level of knowledge on STDs and AIDS in order to create effective awareness ads, so I still answered with as much candor as I could. Apparently though, such candor was just too much for him to take. . .

SUDDENLY the calm and intellectual façade completely cracked apart and he burst out with the urgent announcement—“I’m SO HARD!!!”

At first I was completely shocked. All I had been doing was telling him fact that I wasn’t currently using the pill! I sat there in stunned silence for a moment, trying to process what was happening, and he took the opportunity to elaborate. “I’m touching myself right now,” he gasped. “I’m sliding my hand up and down!”

The sheep’s clothing was tossed aside and the true heavy breather self was revealed. Now I realized the intent of the call but was completely thrown since I hadn’t realized that it was that sort of anonymity he was going for! The sexual sort! It wasn’t to protect my identity while answering his sensitive questions, but to enable him to get off.

Again he took complete advantage of this uneven playing field by lowering the phone to his crotch and allowing me to hear the sound it made. That squeaking broke me out of my astonishment over the sudden and totally unexpected and shocking turn of conversation, and with a gasp I hung up quickly and flung the phone to the far side of the room. That distinctive high-pitched sound still haunts me today. . .

The part I can’t imagine is how discussing AIDS and STDs could possibly be a turn-on! If one is going to create this incredibly detailed hoax as a way to trick girls into talking about some aspects of sex, then why choose such a topic? He could have focused on what sort of birth control I used, which probably would have gotten more juicy questions out of me, and involved minimal discussion about venereal diseases. In fact, I’m not the only girl I know who has received such a call, and this is the precise subject that another heavy-breathers-in-sheep’s-clothing chose when calling a friend of mine. He pretended to be conducting surveys on behalf on the NHS, but then again, she did catch on much sooner than I did. Maybe they are ever-finessing their act to find which will get girls innocently talking the longest. Fair enough—who would ever guess that discussing sexual diseases could possibly lead someone to become massively turned on? I certainly didn’t.

But then again, I guess he was right on his message, even if it was an elaborate invention to get girls to talk about sex. . .By doing this, he was practicing the safest sex possible!

I feel hesitant in warning people not to answer over-the-phone surveys because they are essential in determining the sexual health and behaviors of the public, which contribute towards disease prevention and contraceptive awareness, but if a guy calls with a survey on sex awareness or birth control practices, just remember. . .there are many shades of anonymity, not all of them as innocent as they may seem.

Though it can be fun when you’re in on the game and know that you’re doing it for the sexual thrill (whether it’s flirting to a stranger at a bar, or messaging with someone who has a hot MySpace profile) it’s quite a different case when you’re just trying to do your civic duty and instead end up hearing the melodic strains of a guy getting off on STD stats!

Sooner or Later

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Back to anecdotal journalism again! - Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
Plan? - Monday, Jun. 19, 2006
FINALLY things are going better!
(This month redefined my understanding of stress and 'hell')
- Monday, April 24th, 2006
Just a few more days! - Monday, February 27th, 2006
Another one to chalk up to College Experiences - Sunday, February 12th, 2006

Chloe © 2006