Who the Fuck are You, Anyway? Ch. 1byNoJo©
Alice and Beth giggled as Alice dialed. They looked furtively across the office towards Tim, who sat behind his desk nibbling a tuna sandwich and doing a crossword. His bespectacled face was half obscured by a large computer monitor, on top of which perched a New York Yankees baseball cap. Tim had never been to New York -- in fact he'd never even ventured out of England except for a day trip to Boulogne.
A woman's voice answered. "Hi, this is, WT-FAY, who's calling please?" "Hi, My name is Alice Davis, you left a message asking me to call you about Tim Pearson, who I nominated for the show."
"Oh, yes, Tim Pearson. We just needed to fill in a couple of details you missed out on the form. Firstly, how old is Tim? You don't have to be exact."
"Alice conferred rapidly with Beth. "He's 30, but looks closer to 40."
"Thanks. And what's your relationship with Tim, Alice?"
"I work with him. And he's a friend of the family."
"And why did you think he'd make a good candidate for WT-FAY, Alice?"
"Well, he's a really nice guy, and quite good-looking really, in a Hugh Grant sort of way, but, well, he doesn't have a clue about women, or men for that matter. He's really, really, shy. But you can tell when you get to know him that if he could just come out of himself he'd really be quite successful with women. He's very easy to work with, I'm sure he'd really try his best if he was on the show. Is this Susanne I'm speaking to?"
"No, Susanne will contact him tomorrow with the shooting schedule."
'Who the Fuck Are You', or WT-FAY as it was popularly known, was the surprise hit TV show, in which a team of three experts would attempt to transform people who for one reason or another were unable to get it together to go out on dates. The experts would use a combination of techniques on them over a six week period, to redefine their image, improve their body language, and enhance their vocal charm and conversational skills.
There seemed to be two broad categories of people who submitted to this six-week personality make-over.
The first type were people who had recently undergone some sort of confidence shattering emotional turmoil, perhaps a messy divorce, or the loss of a pet Labrador. They had started to "let themselves go", put on weight or stop grooming themselves, until they'd reached the stage where a kind-hearted friend or relative had put their name forward for the show, in a last-ditch attempt to restore their former confidence.
The other sort of person who ended up on the program would be not so much a "has-been" of love, but more of a "never was": Ok-looking, twenty- or thirty-something, socially inept, totally devoid of any dress sense, and sexually a virgin.
While the panel of experts on the show didn't promise to turn these social Cinderellas into Belles of the Ball, more often than not they succeeded in achieving a lot in the few weeks available to work on the victim. And viewers loved it, watching the poor fool repeat the same embarrassing social mistakes we all made in our teenage years. And of course every single viewer probably also privately wondered what these guys might have done for them if they themselves were in the victim's place.
As avid fans of the show, Alice and Beth had both naturally thought of Tim, who was firmly a type 2 candidate. He probably scored close to 100% on the suitability scale. The photo they'd enclosed was a Polaroid of him at the office Christmas party, where he was standing forlornly under the mistletoe, clutching a glass of beer, with two waggish male colleagues either side of him, pretending to kiss his cheeks. Beth had slightly unnecessarily indicated Tim in the picture by drawing an arrow pointing to him in felt pen.
The people from WT-FAY evidently agreed with Alice and Beth about Tim, for Alice had that morning got a letter back saying that they would like to meet him as soon as possible.
When the girl from the show had told Alice that they would be contacting Tim tomorrow, she and Beth had exchanged glances. The time had come to break the news to Tim; Alice and Beth had up till then been acting in secret.
"Think he'll go for it?" asked Beth.
"No problem," said Alice firmly, and she meant it: The combination of her maternal, but forceful personality and Tim's complete pliability meant that if she had to resort to persuasion the result would be a foregone conclusion.
She immediately dialed her husband. "Dave, its me. Can you pick up some turkey breast on the way home, darling? I completely forgot: Tim's coming round for dinner tonight." "Tonight? Funny, I bumped into him yesterday in the High Street and he never mentioned it."
"He didn't know yesterday. In fact he still doesn't know. I better hang up, Love, it's nearly five. I have to tell him he's coming, before he leaves for the day."
Alone in his simple two-bedroom house, Tim hummed a Stevie Wonder tune to himself while he shaved. He enjoyed going round to Dave and Alice's. And their three-year old, Max, was a lovely little kid. Tim hoped that Alice's next baby, which was due in three months, would be a girl. Then they'd be a perfect family. He wondered who they'd pick for a godfather this time. He wasn't sure, but he didn't think the rules allowed for him to be godfather to both of their children.
Tim, overly worried about the punctuality of the bus, ended up arriving at their house twenty minutes early. He considered setting his wristwatch twenty minutes ahead and ringing their bell; if they looked annoyed, he could blame it on that. But suppose Alice then asked him why he hadn't known earlier - after all he hadn't arrived early for work that morning. He tried to think the pretence through. If pressed, he would say that the wristwatch had dropped onto the bathroom floor while he was shaving, which was probably the cause. But then Dave would start a conversation about how he never took his watch off when he shaved, because it was waterproof. "Bugger, so's mine," Tim realized. Perhaps Tim could pretend he didn't know that. But Alice might suspect; she'd often remarked on how thoroughly he'd read the instruction manual for any new piece of office equipment as soon at it was installed. Everyone at work acknowledged his expertise when it came to the coffee machine. Yes, Alice would be immediately suspicious; it would be too unlike Tim to be unaware of the features his own wristwatch.
It was all so fucking complicated!
While he stood weighing up his chances of carrying the 'wristwatch scam' off, he happened to look up at a lighted upstairs window, and caught a very clear glimpse of Alice wandering back and forth in their bedroom, clearly nowhere near ready to receive visitors, as she was wearing only a black lace bra and panties. She came to the window and whisked the curtains closed. He looked down at the ground quickly, but although he knew she hadn't seen him, he was just as distraught as if she had: The vision of her remained burned into his retina like an after-image: He knew that now, Alice would become yet another woman he would have to struggle to resist invading his sexual fantasies every night. She would now be vying for his erotic attention during his daily masturbation sessions, along with most of the other women in the office, the young girl who trimmed his garden hedge, and even the old dear at the Post Office who always asked him about his tongue, ever since he was stung there by a wasp, which had somehow become stuck to a postage stamp she'd given him.
He brooded gloomily on the impossibility of shutting out this irresistibly alluring image of her, his closest, in fact his only female friend. He was reminded of the schoolboy's challenge: "Shut your eyes and don't think of elephants."
Tim waited in front of their house. It started to rain. There was a flash of lightning, then the rain turned to a downpour. Three minutes later the rain suddenly stopped. He looked at his wristwatch, sadly wiping the raindrops off its face to reveal the time (7:58PM) and the word "WATERPROOF". He marched up and rang their doorbell. To his relief, it was Dave who let him in. "Hi, matey," he said cordially. "You're wet. And you're late for a change; it's five past. You usually come as punctually as a Swiss au-pair. Interesting tank-top you're wearing."
"Yes, the fruits of my first foray to the winter sales without Mum or my sister in tow."
"Yeah, I can see you weren't pandering to their taste when you chose it. I hope you feel like filling your belly tonight, we went a bit overboard with the starters. Talking of filling your belly, here's Alice now."
Alice came downstairs, her expression suspicious. Tim blushed. "What's my husband saying about me now? He's not going on about my fat tum is he?"
Dave kissed her ear gently. "That 'fat tum' is half my fault, and I take part of the blame for the atrocious effect it's having on your self-esteem."
Alice, clearly placated, affected to ignore her husband. "Tim, come in. Get pissed. I can't because of 'you know who' here." She patted her tummy. "And for Christ's sake take that revolting tank top off, I've only just got over morning sickness."
They sat down to eat. Tim soon forgot any embarrassment he felt in Alice's presence. As usual, he was relaxed and lively with his friends over dinner. He made them laugh when he described his ongoing battle with the stupid staff of the local record store, who'd put Marvin Gaye's CDs in with the Village People and Barbra Streisand. Tim seemed to talk freely, even passionately, whenever the subject turned to music, particularly 70's soul, but he was only this voluble when he was with his two closest friends.
After the main course, Dave got up from his chair and started to clear away the dishes. Tim rose to help, but Alice held his arm. "Stay here, have some more wine. Keep me company. Anyhow Dave's got to get used to looking after me again."
Dave called from the kitchen. "Yes, Tim, you men sit have a chat about World Affairs. Don't worry about me, I'll be happy here in the kitchen with my soap suds and my dreams." He was actually in on Alice's plan to reveal what she and Beth had done, and he'd decided that a one-on-one would be less intimidating to start with. It had all been her bright idea anyway, so he figured he'd only come on as backup.
Alone with her, Tim suddenly felt awkward again. The image of her in her underwear floated back.
Alice looked at him keenly for a moment. There was no way he could have guessed anything, she knew, otherwise he would never have come; but he seemed strangely agitated. Could it be that he sensed something nasty coming? She decided to use her tried and tested technique, Sudden Ambush. After all, she'd hooked Dave that way.
"Tim darling, you're a good-looking, solvent, funny, heterosexual guy, but am I right in assuming you haven't even had a date, let alone a fuck in your whole life?"
Tim, abashed, suddenly laughed hysterically. "HAHAHAHA! Oh, Alice, you're absolutely, brilliant. I was completely -"
Alice interrupted, assuming the same tone she used when scolding little Max. "- Tim, I want to know: What do you think it is that stopped you from going with Sarah Maxwell at the Christmas do last year - and will probably stop you again this year, and every other fucking year? You do fancy her don't you? Because any man who doesn't fancy Sarah Maxwell is either gay, which you aren't, or dead, which you aren't either. So just tell me what you think the problem is."
"I - I don't know, I'm not in her league really. I do find her attractive, of course I do, it's just - I - I don't know, I don't really think I'm cut out for it all. Alice, I've never really understood how to do all this Sex stuff."
"Well let me tell you about what Sarah thinks of you. She thinks that you think she's too slutty for you. You made her feel cheap, Tim. She really likes you, you know. Not 'likes' as in 'wants to be your friend', 'likes' as in 'fancies'. So do lots of the girls at work." She leaned close to him, moving in for a knockout punch. "Sometimes I even wondered about you and me…"
"Stop it, please, Alice, I don't know what you're trying -"
Alice feigned anger. "Oh for fuck's sake, Tim, you need to get over this fear." She sighed. "look, relax, you aren't my type, and I love what's-his-name, you know, my husband." Tim laughed. "Oh, darling, I was just trying to shake you up a little, stick a firework up your ass. And by the way it's true about lots of the girls at work."
Tim was silent for a whole minute, eyes downcast, contemplating her words. He knew she didn't like to hurt him, and had his interests at heart. Finally he asked, "which girls in particular?"
Dave came in with coffee. "Tim, That's what Alice is trying to say: You see, you don't even know when a girl fancies you. To most men it would be obvious, they've learned to read the signs. Except for me, where it's always the same: They see me, they want me."
"Yes, very good Dave, go upstairs and check on Max, dear. We don't need you flashing your twelve inch ego around right now." She turned to Tim, was staring at the whorls of cream in his coffee. She put her hand on his. "Tim, Who the Fuck are You, anyway?"
Tim looked up. She was smirking naughtily. Suddenly he guessed.
"No. NO! Alice, you didn't…"
Alice nodded. "I did. Well, Beth and me did."
"Beth and you. Without asking me first. Don't you think -"
"- No Tim, sometimes people don't think, they just act."
"Ok, ok… Ok Maybe you're right, I would never have agreed to it if you'd asked me." He thought for a moment while Alice stirred sugar into her coffee. "Tell me: Beth, is she one of, you know, one of the 'lots of girls'?"
"Maybe you'll be able to find out for yourself pretty soon. Susanne Simpson's calling you tomorrow. I think they want to start filming next week.
Susanne Simpson. Tim shook his head. Susanne Simpson, syndicated editor of Cosmopolitan and expert on everything to do with the art of flirting, dating and seduction, not to mention extremely knowledgeable on what to do after you've actually 'closed the deal'. And she also happened to be one of the major players in his masturbation fantasies, appearing almost daily, even if she sometimes only had a walk-on part.
Tim would make a point of watching WT-FAY every Thursday, and then dream about his Perfect Date with this woman, beginning with the witty chat over the aperitif, culminating in her completely unfaked multiple orgasm. The final line was always the same. She would lean across him and kiss his chest and say, "Tim, all my books, my syndicated advice to millions of women everywhere, are nothing, hollow, meaningless bullshit. Now I know the truth: I've never really understood how to do all this Sex stuff until You."
Alice, as the only one of three sober enough to drive, gave Tim a lift home. She stopped the car at his house, leaving the engine running. She smiled at him sympathetically. "Go on, darling, off to bed with you. You've got a big day tomorrow."
Tim looked apprehensively at his front door. He almost felt like asking if he could sleep on their sofa tonight.
After brushing his teeth perfunctorily and chucking his clothes on the floor in the vicinity of his clotheshorse, Tim jumped into bed, and lay on his back. He stared sleepily at the crack on the ceiling. His mind buzzed with the wine and Alice's words. His stroked his cock lightly with the tip of a middle finger. He imagined tomorrow's call from Susanne Simpson. It would come at eight in the morning. He'd still be in bed: "Hello, Tim," she would say in her husky voice. "I'm looking forward to working with you over the coming weeks. Oh, and talking of coming, can you guess what I'm doing with the phone cord right now, Tim?"
And then minutes later she'd appear at his bedroom door, with a camera crew, and he'd be naked, having just got out of bed. She'd stand before him, and begin undressing slowly and seductively. And then she would turn into Alice, in black lace bra and panties, with her smooth pregnant belly. And Alice would smile at him and say, "come on darling, back to bed with you. You've got a big day today."
Tim stirred, and quickly changed mental channels: Suddenly the old lady from the post office appeared naked at his door. She barged past the film crew and said, "Mr. Pearson, guess what, I'm going to be your first trial date for WT-FAY. Have you got a glass of water for my teeth? Now, let's have a look at that poor tongue of yours."