Livelinks: The Tuesday I Almost Found Love

It was a Tuesday night. I was relaxing after a hard day at El Pollo Loco, just about to nod off, when the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard called to me from the television set.

“Hi stud, I’m all alone and looking for some company. You don’t have to go out to have a good time, so call me and let’s chat!”

Her name was Cinnamon. Her beautiful voice was rivaled only by the beauty of her face. Could I really be so lucky, turning on the television at the exact moment she shouted her loneliness into the void? She wore a loosely buttoned blouse that left little to the imagination, if you know what I mean, and her makeup was pristine. What a waste. All dressed up with nowhere to go on a Tuesday night.

At the same time, she didn’t seem particularly interested in going out. No, she seemed more like the type who’d much rather stay in for a night of stimulating, intellectual phone conversation. Her voice said, “All the hottest singles are waiting to talk to you,” but I saw right through it. What she was really saying was, “Why would you waste your time on little, lonely old me when you could be out where the real action is?” Those words hit me hard. Such modesty, purity, and selflessness often go unnoticed in this world, and I was ready to be the one who finally saw this ugly duckling for the swan she truly was.

I promptly dialed the phone number she’d conveniently included in her ad. I didn’t recognize the area code as being close, but in this modern age of cell phones it’s perfectly reasonable to imagine that someone from the 9-0-0 would make their way to the 3-1-0! Everyone’s a transplant, right? At first thought I had reached her answering machine. “Hi stud (everyone likes to be complimented), you’ve reached Livelinks, the hottest party chat line in the world.”

In the world! I laughed to myself. This Cinnamon obviously had a heightened sense of irony, because despite claiming to be the loneliest girl in town, her telephone number was apparently also the gateway to a world-class social extravaganza.

Next I was prompted – still by the recorded voice, which I presumed to be Cinnamon’s, even though it sounded a little different than in the commercial (everyone sounds a tad odd on the phone) – to enter my credit card number. I found that weird but quickly dismissed the feeling, assuming it was only meant to screen potential suitors for financial stability, which I totally understood. The recorded voice was generally polite, saying “Thanks, hot stuff” and informed me that I was “only seconds away from the girl of my dreams,” which really ramped up my anticipation. This was really happening. My life was going to be very different after this.

The recorded voice began to speak very quickly and quite extensively, a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo I couldn’t even begin to understand (leave that stuff to the lawyers!) but in all honesty I wasn’t even listening. I thought about Cinnamon’s perfect face and her kind soul yearning for adventure. Little did she know that her life was also about to change in a big way. I bet her last boyfriend was a real jerk. Does she like pad thai? Sherlock or Dr. Who? Was Cinnamon a family name? So many questions ran through my brain, and I hoped she had some great questions for me! I like to think I’m an open book.

Suddenly, I heard the words I was waiting for: “If you’re ready to get connected, press 1 now. If you do not wish to connect, or are under the age of 18, please press 2 or hang up now.” A real red pill, blue pill situation. I immediately pressed 1, held my breath, and continued holding it until I heard the voice I’d been waiting my whole life to hear.

“Hey stud, this is Jasmine, how can I fulfill your every desire tonight?”

“Oh, hi Jasmine, is Cinnamon available?” I asked politely.

“You can call me Cinnamon if you want.”

It was her! I was afraid there had been a mix-up and somehow I’d dialed the wrong number, abandoning my sweet Cinnamon in her time of need. We began with the formalities: I asked where she was from and what brought her to Los Angeles and she told me she was from the land of my fantasies and was looking for a real man to punish her for the bad girl she was. This was one wounded dove in need of rescuing.

At first the whole experience was a little jarring, especially since Cinnamon sounded so different than her commercial and the recorded voice! Her voice was raspy as though she subsisted on a diet of vodka and unfiltered cigarettes. She sounded older and less engaged than I’d expected, but I quickly realized that when one spends so many nights alone, yearning for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, they’re bound to be a little broken down.

There was a subtext of pain and hesitance beneath her coldness, and I did everything I could to break down the barrier between us. I began calling her Cinna, Cinny, Cinyminny, and any other cute nicknames I came up with. I could tell by the way she didn’t protest or react that liked her nicknames. We were making real progress here.

Over the course of the next six hours, I laid the ground work for what was sure to be the most important relationship of our lives. Cinnyminny never really seemed interested in having a conversation, but she also didn’t seem to be in a rush to get off the phone, so I knew she was playing hard to get. She also kept bringing the conversation back to sex, and some of the things she said were absolutely shocking. I told her, “I know you’re just saying those things because you think men expect you to say them, but I’m not interested in all that. I want to know about the real you.” We were at the bottom of a steep hill to a happy, healthy Cinnamon, but I’d climb Mount Everest just to see her smile.

When it came time to end our conversation, Cinnabun feigned disinterest, but I wasn’t fooled. I knew she didn’t want to come off as the desperate woman from the commercial. She wasn’t really putting herself out there, so I took the next step: I promised her I would call again. She told me that she couldn’t guaranteed I’d speak to her the next time I called, but any of the other girls would be more than happy to have me call them Cinnamon. I don’t really have an explanation for that one, but it was late, we were both a little punch drunk, and maybe she’d just misspoke. We said our goodbyes, or rather I tried to say goodbye but was abruptly returned to the automated menu, and with heavy heart I retired to bed.

The next day I reflected upon the previous night’s endeavor and realized that it wasn’t a love connection. I couldn’t be the man she wanted me to be, and she clearly had some issues to work out that were beyond the scope of my understanding. I never called back, and the only time our paths crossed again was when my credit card company called to tell me that $720 had been charged to my account by an entity known only as “Livelinks.” They asked if I wanted to dispute the charge, but I smiled to myself and said no. Cinnamon clearly needed the money more than I did, and if my $720 helped propel her towards a better life, then I’d done my part as her friend.

Every once in a while I’ll still see Cinnamon’s commercial. Still bored, still lonely, still searching. I’d smile, think of our conversation, and hope that someday she’d find what she was looking for.

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