Garret Mathews / Lifestyle & Retirement

The 900 Number – Taking the Plunge

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The classified advertisement says I can dial a 900 number and talk with a coed, a housewife or an older woman. My choice. Just $2.99 per minute.

I call.

“Do you have a voice preference?” a nice-sounding woman asks.

Housewife, I answer, trying to sound assertive.

“Please hold.”

Thirty seconds of awful music.

Then my housewife comes on the line.

“Hi,” she purrs.

I tell her I’ve never done this sort of thing. I assume I’m supposed to talk dirty.

“Most of the men do, but not all. Yesterday a guy was having a problem with his girlfriend and wanted my help.”

I stammer, wasting valuable time. I ask her to help me with an opening line.

“A lot of men like to start off by asking what I’m wearing.”

Good idea. What are you wearing?

“Do you want the truth or the fantasy answer? The calls go about 50-50.


“OK, I’m actually wearing a blue miniskirt with heels and black stockings. But if a guy wants to play, I tell him I don’t have anything on but a black nightie.”

She goes by Mercedes on the phone, but that’s not her real name. She says she has long blonde hair, a fair complexion and green eyes.

How do I know this? I reply. You could be fat and ugly.

“I could be, but I’m not. Besides, guys don’t always tell the truth. I had one say he’s a Major League baseball player.”

Mercedes won’t tell me the name of her employer or how much money she makes. Her office is in Atlantic City, but she won’t say where. She says she works three days a week, two hours a day, fielding an average of eight calls per shift. She says there are 30 other women in the room taking calls.

I ask how she landed the job.

“Filled out a classified advertisement that called for ‘Fantasy Phone Actresses’.”

What if a fellow gets carried away and leaves hearth and home for Atlantic City?

“I tell them right off I don’t date people on the line and that it’s all a fantasy. Almost all of them understand.”

I’m feeling more comfortable. I apologize for fumbling around in the early going.

“No problem. I have to talk a lot of guys through it.”

That reminds me. I ask if she will talk dirty.


I have never heard such a wonderful rendition of nasty-nasty over the telephone and I tell her so.

Mercedes thanks me and asks if I want to try.

“I’m all ears,” she purrs.

I do my best, but I’m sure she’s heard better.

Don’t you get tired of hearing the same old words and the same sordid suggestions? I wonder.

“Not really. You pick up the phone and you never know what’s going to happen.”

I tell her I’d better hang up, time being money. There’s just one more thing. What do you tell the guys at the end?

“What else? Have a nice day.”
Editor’s Notes:  Garret Mathews, a new AFL “regular” tells us:   I’m retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. In a 39-year career, I penned more than 6,500 pieces on every subject from moonshiners to murderers. You can read some of my work by going to and clicking on the Favorites icon.  For information on other projects, click on Coming Together and FolksAreTalking on the Plugger site.” Also, go to, and, for even MORE great articles from Garret, click here!  Email Garret at He’d love to hear from you!

Garret Mathews is retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. He penned more than 6,500 pieces on every subject from moonshiners to murderers and Appalachian snake handlers to mail-order brides. His legacy website ( contains links to columns – his (“Favorites”) and those mostly written by others (“Columnists: While We’re Still Around”). At “Coming Together,” you can access interviews Mathews conducted with civil rights volunteers who went South in the ‘60s to register voters and desegregate schools and businesses. At “Folks Are Talking,” you can read several dozen feature stories and columns (early United Mine Workers organizers, early coal hand loaders and a female furrier who dissected muskrats while eating peanut butter sandwiches) that Mathews wrote during the ‘70s when he worked in Southern West Virginia. He and his wife MaryAnne moved to Carmel in 2013 to dote on their grandchildren, Gavin and Ben.

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