Who the Fuck Are You, Anyway? Ch. 2byNoJo©
At five to eight the phone woke Tim from a disturbed night's sleep.
Groggily he groped for it, knocking his glasses to the floor. It was Alice, calling to tell him he'd left his mobile phone at their house last night.
"How're you feeling this morning, darling?" She asked.
Tim, who still only vaguely recalled the previous evening, told her he was fine, a little hung over.
"WT-FAY just called to say that they'll be there by nine. Need a lift into work?"
He remembered. He looked at his watch, but shock had temporarily rendered him incapable of telling the time.
"No, thanks, I'll be ok."
After she hung up he leapt out of bed, landing on his glasses and breaking a lens.
At this point panic set in. Myopically he scanned the floor for underpants, and failing to locate any he pulled on his trousers anyway. Yesterday's socks would have to do.
He reached into the bedside table for his spare pair of glasses, which he had had since he was twelve. They had been taped together countless times over the years.
Five minutes later he was at the bus stop, with a white lump of soap still clinging to his cheek, and far too much aftershave to compensate for his not showering.
On the bus, Tim frantically rehearsed his upcoming meeting with the WT-FAY team. Oblivious to the surreptitious glances of the other passengers, he experimented with a variety of facial expressions to for this, much to the alarm of the schoolboy who had been unfortunate enough to have taken the seat next to him.
Taking a deep breath, he strode into the office, with the feeling that he was entering an examination room to face a test he had only just found out about and had had no time to revise.
The desks were empty. Instead, all the staff was gathered at the far end in a small crowd. As he approached, he suddenly recognized amongst them Susanne and her two colleagues, Richard Smart, the verbal skills man, and Tanya Beam, the Queen of Image Management and author of the top-selling book 'Dress your way to the Boardroom'.
The first to see him was his boss, Ernie.
"Tim, you rascal. Nice one, good for you! And good for EBM Accounting, too. You know how much we'd have had to pay for this kind of advertising?" Playing the valet, he picked the piece of soap from Tim's chin and adjusted his tie for him.
Alice and Beth came forward. Alice squeezed his arm. "Come on Tim, meet the WT-FAY team. They're very nice. Really. You'll like Richard Smart."
Autographs were signed, the crowd was finally dispersed, and Tim was left to face the Tribunal alone, Ernie having given up his office for the occasion.
They sat on the sofa and armchairs in the meeting area of the office. Ernie would rarely use this except to read the newspapers in the mornings, resting his feet on the coffee table.
Tim took an armchair. The women took the sofa, leaving Richard the armchair adjacent to Tim. Richard immediately put him at ease, leaning out of his chair to shake Tim's hand and saying, "Tim, first of all, congratulations! Just by agreeing to do this, I think you've shown how brave you are. We've always felt that it takes a special person to have the confidence to come on the show. I know that might sound funny, given what the show's about. But that's really it: We don’t want to change you, what we're hoping to do is show you that you already have inside you all the confidence and skills you need."
The women nodded at this. Tanya, who was rapidly scribbling notes, stopped and murmured "Absolutely," scratching her nose. Susanne smiled at him. He looked a little too long at her, then looked back hastily at Richard, then looked down at his hands in his lap. He noticed his palms were sweating, and there was made a damp mark on the arm of the sofa.
Richard proceeded to explain the schedule. The filming was to last six weeks. There was to be a "practice date" with a woman Tim could choose himself and felt comfortable with, after one week. Shooting would culminate in a real date with a woman that Tim himself had not met before - this time Tim was to start from square one – ‘first contact’, using all his newly learned chat-up skills.
Tim said that he knew the plan, having watched the first series. "Actually, I'm a BIG FAN!" For some reason, he had slightly lost control of the volume of his voice as he said this, and the last two words came out far too loud. Richard and Susanne exchanged glances.
Susanne shifted her position, crossing her legs. She leaned forward. "So, Tim. Alice has talked to us a bit about you, and said a lot of nice things. What do you think of this all? What would you like to get out of all this?" She looked into his eyes, and brushed her hair away from her cheek.
Tim, unconsciously mirroring her, crossed his legs, leaned towards her and returned her gaze. "Well, I didn't actually volunteer, and I haven't had much time to think about it really. But, well, I suppose I could do with a change of image. And learning a few chat- up lines could always come in handy! HAHAHAHA!"
The too-loud laugh had Tanya scribbling even more furiously. Susanne and Richard appeared not to notice. Susanne fingered a silver pendant nestling in her cleavage. "Well, we'll see what we can do, won't we guys! I must say I really am very pleased with how well you're doing already, Tim. If you knew how much resistance we usually get. It takes a lot of confidence to admit that you need more confidence."
Susanne crossed her legs the other way. Tim was not sure whether the brief glimpse this gave him of her knickers was intentional. He played with the top button of his shirt, and rather clumsily and violently attempted to re-cross his legs as Susanne had done. Something flew high into the air from the end of his trouser leg, landing in the middle of the coffee table. It was his missing pair of underpants.
After a second of silence, all four of them burst out laughing. The laughter grew. Richard actually fell off the seat, clutching his sides.
After this, the stiff atmosphere magically cleared. Conversation ran as freely as if he were sitting with Alice and Dave. In this way they learned about his hopes and fears, his loneliness and almost pathological shyness, his love of music, and his absolutely hopeless grasp of the basics of social intercourse. And although the other form of intercourse was not explicitly mentioned, by the end of an hour none of the experts were in any doubt about Tim's virginity.
Tim left the room, exhilarated. He was actually really looking forward to the coming weeks. As soon as he emerged, he was surrounded by a swarm of people, asking him how it went. He already felt a celebrity.
Inside Ernie's office, the experts compared notes. They all agreed on one thing: Tim was just perfect for the program.
Susanne ticked off points on Tanya's notes. "Ok. What about the dummy date: Someone from work, right? I think we should give Tim a little 'help' making his choice, otherwise he might end up picking his Mum."
"Ok", said Richard. "I'll do the reccy."
"Tanya, Image: It's got to be Hugh Grant, hasn't it?"
"Oh, I think we can go a bit further. He's got great bone structure. I just hope I don't blow the budget."
"Don't worry, we'll make it all back with this guy. Now. To bring him out, I was thinking of getting him to try and sell women's underwear in the street market."
Richard shook his head. "Not bad, but I think we should just put him in front of a mike somewhere and get him to sing."
"Too much like Karaoke night.”
Richard and Suzanne debated this. Eventually Susanne let Richard's idea stay.
“Ok. He better not be tone deaf. Rick, check him out tomorrow."
"What do you think of him, Su? Think you can turn him around?"
"When I've finished with him, he could have anyone. You know I might even keep him for myself! Actually Rick, that's a point: even for the dummy date, we should find him a really tasty girl. I'm sure they all want to shag him already. Find the sexiest one and work on her, will you? Rick, Don't take no for an answer."
"Do I ever?"
At around eleven o clock in the morning Tim, back at his desk, started to panic again. Beth and Alice were on a coffee break, reading a copy of ‘Heat’ magazine, which happened to have a feature on the WT-Fay team that week. Beth said that Richard Smart was better looking in the flesh. Alice sniggered and said she hadn't seen him in the flesh yet.
Beth looked over at Tim. Wordlessly she prodded Alice with a pencil and they looked across at him. He was fidgeting wildly, occasionally looking over at the two of them with a mixture of fear and malice. Beth started to have second thoughts.
Beth was about to say something to Alice when Richard Smart himself, not quite in the flesh but pretty yummy-looking in his black suit and navy cashmere sweater, walked over to their desk, giving Tim a friendly wave and a wink as he passed. Tim winked back savagely, which made him look as though he had now become afflicted with a facial tic to add to the rest of his strange mannerisms.
"Hi, I’m Rick. You're Beth, right?"
Beth nodded, relieved that her dark skin hid her blush, and stood to shake his hand. The magazine slid from her lap to the floor by his feet. Richard's photo was clearly visible as it landed, having been artistically framed in assorted colors of highlight pen by Beth. He bent to pick it up, but she swept it quickly under the desk with her foot, crushing his fingers.
"Sorry," they said simultaneously. He rose slowly, checking out her buxom figure as he did, delaying slightly at the level of her round breasts.
Once upright, he cupped his hands together briskly. "Well, ladies, the Deed is done. No turning back. Believe me, I'm sure he, and probably you too are having second thoughts about this right now, but trust me: he'll be thanking you in about two days." As he spoke he smiled and looked from one to the other keenly. Alice could see he was sizing them up as he spoke. And she noticed that Richard was making a lot more eye contact with Beth than with her.
"Okay," she thought, “No need to get paranoid. Pregnant married thirty-three year olds are just as attractive as slim twenty-four year olds."
"Look", said Richard to Beth, quietly. "Can we just step outside for a chat and a bite to eat for a bit? You too, Alice, I'd really like you to come, if you don't mind." Alice was too flattered at being included to argue. And when he actually helped her up from her seat she felt a small twang of pleasure, right down in her pussy. Wow. Even the chivalrous Dave, God love him, didn’t affect her like that any more.
"Thank you," she said, stroking her hair.
They stepped out into the street and sat down at a table in the bustling French cafe next door to the office. "Ok. You know how the program goes. We love Tim, and we'd really like some help from you to make this a really good program -- for him as well as us. Any idea who he'd be likely to pick for his practice date -” Alice was about to say that he'd probably pick his mum or sister but Richard was too quick “- besides immediate relatives?"
There was a pause. Alice and Richard both looked at Beth. Beth, realizing they meant her, shook her head. "I think it might seem a bit strange, seeing as how I was one of the people who put him up to this. No, I really think it should be you, Al."
Alice burst out laughing, but Richard turned to her with a questioning look.
"Um, I really don't think a pregnant married woman is the best choice for this. Besides, it wasn't just your idea, Beth. And I did most of the work."
Richard was silent, waiting and listening.
"But Al, you know how he is with you. You keep telling me how relaxed he is, like a different person. You're about the only woman I can think of that wouldn't freak him out."
Alice felt that there was a vague insult in what she said.
"You mean, he doesn't find me a threat, because he knows that nothing would happen."
"Yes -- I mean NO! It's just that on his first date, he'll be so nervous that he'll need someone he's -"
"- not attracted to. Why don't you just say I'm a fat blimp."
Richard, whose attention had apparently been lost, as he had been looking round at the people in the cafe, suddenly stepped in as arbitrator.
"Ok, ladies. I think that we're not getting anywhere with this. Let's try thinking a bit here: I think Beth, you're not comfortable with doing this, so that he'll notice that and will therefore probably feel awkward himself. And Alice, you're too much of a close friend of his. It could lead to tension afterwards."
Both women were relieved. Richard didn't tell them what he really thought, that the real risk was the damage it might do to the relationship between Alice and Beth themselves. There was obvious rivalry there.
"Hey, " he said, "what about her? She works with you doesn't she? She seems nice."
They looked. "Sarah Maxwell!?" they said in unison.
Back at the office, Richard introduced himself to Sarah. She was incredibly sexy, though not a classic beauty. She had a pout to her lips that had lost her her virginity at an early age. Men would turn and look at her whenever she appeared. Nobody could put their finger on it, but most men wanted to.
She suffered the typical frustration of women in her situation: She never felt that men would take her seriously. And the constant envy she felt from other women made her feel lonely and isolated. Richard took all this in immediately, and had already planned his strategy.
"Sarah. Nice to meet you. Alice and Beth have told me how nice you were. And Tim also said nice things about you. You know he's really worried he's lost the respect of the women here by doing this."
After five minutes of Richard’s schmoozing, Sarah had not only agreed to be Tim's practice date, but also to send Richard her CV in regard to a possible job opening in the "Flying Eye III" traffic watch helicopter for the local BBC station. Richard hadn't mentioned what had happened to Flying Eyes I and II.
The next day, the schedule started in earnest. For the next few weeks Tim would spend much of his life in the company of the experts, and a couple of slobby, blasé, seasoned professional camera operators.
Susanne started the first filmed session, teaching him the basics of chatting up women, while they sat at his kitchen table. Richard looked on. Tanya was not there; she was out working on a shopping list for his wardrobe.
"Ok, Tim. Question: What's the best subject of conversation to have on a date?"
Tim thought, avoiding her eyes. "It depends on the woman really."
"No it doesn't. There's one subject that is always best, on any date."
"Okay... Not the weather... probably not sports... I've got it, Art!" All women would think that you're sensitive and..."
"COLD!" shouted Susanne. "The answer is: HER. Always talk about your date to your date. That fact equally applies to women going out on a date with men. Always talk about the person you're with. Now, talk to me about me, Tim."
Tim fidgeted. He scratched his nose and blurted out, "You know, you're one of the most sexy women I've..." he stopped, confused.
Susanne laughed. "Not bad, but definitely coming on too strong for a first date. Plus you were scratching your nose, which makes you appear dishonest. Try again. Don't tell me things, ask me things. Show me you're interested in me."
"How long were you working at Cosmopolitan?"
"Better. Lean forward." He leaned forward, knocking his coffee mug. "I still work there. I've been doing it for about twelve years now."
"TWELVE YEARS? I didn't think you were that old! Wow, I was still at school then."
"Look at my eyes. Not my tits, Tim. My eyes are up here. Well I was also still at school when I started. I'm actually three years younger than you. Stop looking at the cameramen; they're just changing a reel of film. Christ."
"Really, and when did start changing a reel of film?"
Richard, leaning against a cupboard with his arms folded, interrupted. "Tim, listen to her, give her your attention. And respond. Dialog, Tim, give and take."
Tim stared at her lips as she spoke. He got a hard-on, imagining those lips tickling his balls, still chattering, yammering away. Suddenly he leaped up and left the kitchen, and ran up the stairs to his bedroom, slamming the door.
"Leave him for a minute Su."
"No. I'm going to break the ice. You lot stay put."
She knocked gently on the door, and came in. He was sitting on the far side of his single bed, facing the window. She sat down next to him.
"Look, Tim. We'll take it slow. Okay, really slow. She put a hand on his shoulder and looked out the window, sharing the gray suburban view in an effort to sympathize.
After a few minutes he spoke, still looking out the window. "You know," he began, "I wanted to be a singer. I auditioned for a few groups. They all told me the same thing: They liked my voice, but told me I didn't have enough 'presence'. Finally one group gave me a chance. Before my first gig with them, I looked out at the audience, saw all these women, and bottled out. I decided that I was never going to have what it takes. That's what's so scary. I feel that I'm going to bottle out again."
Susanne held his face and turned it towards her. "Listen, Tim, you're not going to bottle out of this gig. We're not going to let you." She looked at him, and suddenly kissed him passionately on the lips. He felt himself melting. Crikey, she was a good kisser. Not that he could compare her with anyone. He put his hand on her leg and stroked her, his hand moving upwards, pushing her skirt up. Her tights felt deliciously slippery. Gently she pulled away. She adjusted her skirt.
Susanne was visibly put out. "Oops. Sorry. Totally unprofessional. Sorry. Wow."
She tossed her head. She was confused. She thought to herself, "Did I do that deliberately, or what? Whatever, it's done the trick. Let's get him back down and get Rick onto him."
She wiped her lipstick from his lips and took his hand. She led him out of the bedroom, and back down the stairs. After a quizzical glance at Susanne, Richard sat down next to Tim. Susanne had composed herself by the time she had entered the room, but she wondered whether Richard suspected. He was even better than her at reading body language. She pulled the hair from behind her collar and sat down. Fuck it, she hardly knew what had happened up there, let alone him.
"Okay. Lets analyze. Remember when you met Su yesterday. What did you think of her?"
Tim looked up sharply at him. Richard's expression was innocent.
"Well, she seemed very nice, very friendly."
"Did you find her interesting?"
"YES! Yes, that's just it. She was so interesting. That's the word."
"And yet you know absolutely nothing about her." Tim was taken aback. Still puzzling over this, Richard continued. "She liked you, didn't she? You felt that she liked you, I mean."
"Well I - yes, I suppose I did."
Well Tim, I'm not saying you were had, exactly, but she was consciously using a whole barrage of techniques on you to let you know she liked you. Sexually, I mean. She played with her pendant; she touched herself; she leaned towards you. She asked open questions about you. But most of all, Tim, she made eye contact with you. Good eye contact is the key to good communication." He pointed to his own eyes. Tim felt as though he'd been the victim of a scam. His face burned. Susanne shifted in her seat awkwardly. Somehow she felt as though she was being accused. She had to remind herself that she was still unsure of her own motives regarding him.