It was "Today with Teresa Callas," one of the highest rated cable talk shows.
Teresa had a huge faithful fan base, mostly women, mostly in their thirties and older. That demographic loved Teresa; she dealt with real-world issues with almost none of the phony staged confrontation gimmicks of some of her competitors. Teresa was a quick- witted intelligent woman who knew how to monitor a discussion and react to changes of mood. A viewer might get an hour of fun silliness followed by an hour of mind- stretching serious discussion. More typical was a combination of the two extremes in the course of two hours of airtime.
In general, each show was built around a main topic that was discussed and dissected by a panel of people of varying levels of expertise and competence. The studio audience was encouraged to express their opinions, and viewers could call in to weigh in as well.
Teresa kept the discussions going and freely interjected her own opinions.
"All right, people, today's topic is Masculine Insecurities, and more specifically, penis size. You men out there, you closet Teresa Callas viewers, well, you might want to find something else to do for the next two hours. But if you feel particularly masochistic, strap yourself into your seat, because I don't think you're gonna be comfortable, except for that statistical ten to fifteen percent who have nothing to worry about. [A ripple of laughter from the studio audience.]
"Yep, it's the age-old question: Does size matter? And if it does, by how much? Girls, I know you're all champing at the bit to tell us what YOU think. Don't go way; we'll be right back after these announcements."
Teresa sat back and shuffled though some notes her staff had compiled. There was a happy buzz in the studio and Teresa knew this was going to be a good show.
When the studio went back live, the discussion kicked off.
With the audience and the panel being largely female, the tone from the beginning was slanted against the males. The mood was one of amusement, with joking comments made by the panelists and miked up members of the studio audience.
Teresa let her children play. And play they did. Cable was not at all constrained for language as the FCC-regulated broadcasts, and the women went at it. When it got to the point where the terms "needle-dick" and "pencil-dick" were being freely tossed around, Teresa signaled that there was another break needed for show promotions.
When they came back live, Teresa's producer signaled her that they had a promising caller on line one, so she took their first call.
"Caller? You are live and on the air with Teresa Callas. What do you have to tell us today?"
"Teresa? This is Jerri from Cleveland. Ohmygod, I can't believe I got through to your show."
With a little coaxing, Jerri from Cleveland regaled them with her husband's obsession with making his penis larger.
"He buys creams, he takes pills, and has these plastic splinty things and vacuum pump gadgets. He even talked about some kind of plastic surgery deal to inject collagen, but I put my foot down about that. We can't afford those kinds of bills, and that kind of stuff scares me. "
"Jerri from Cleveland, how long has this been going on; this obsession about his size? Has it been like this all through your marriage? Has his penis size a problem for you?"
"No. Well, not really; he's about average, I suppose. Our sex life is ok."
"We've been married four years. All this stuff I've been telling you about started about a year ago.
"I have to confess something. Now, nobody knows who I am, right? Jerri isn't my real name."
"Ok, caller, yes, you have complete anonymity, I promise. What do you have to confess to me?"
"Well, the truth is, I think my husband's problem is kinda my fault. You see, I was married before. I was too young and got married for foolish reasons, and one of them was that my first husband was really well hung.
"I wasn't a virgin, and when we dated, he was really something. I mean he really filled me up like I'd never had it before. Well, unfortunately, outside of that, he was a real shallow guy, a jerk. It only lasted a year. And a couple of years later I met Rob and we just fell head over heels in love, just like they say.
"Well, about a year ago, I was hanging out with one of my closest friends, drinking wine, and we got to dishing about our sex lives. And I made a big mistake. I shouldn't have said it, but I said that sometimes the only thing I missed about my first husband was the way he filled me up.
"I told her not to ever tell anyone what I said, and she swore she wouldn't, but she got careless in a pillow talk way and mentioned it to her hubby. That was not good.
"He works with my husband, but they don't always get along. And one day they were getting on each other's nerves and my friend's guy said something. He just wanted to piss Rob off, and it was pretty much what I'd said about missing getting really filled up. Well Rob came home and I couldn't believe how angry he was at me. I mean, I had a full-time job just getting him to talk to me. And I told him over and over that I loved him and I never wanted anything more than to be with him, but it took some doing to get him to cool off. I guess I never realized how sensitive guys are about their penises."
[There were a few giggles from Teresa's studio audience, but "Jerri from Cleveland" seemed oblivious to them.]
"Well, he's really a sweet guy and isn't one for holding a grudge. I just made it my business to love him up more than ever, and he finally said he'd got over it.
"And I thought he had.
"But I realized it was just after that that he started sending off for all this stuff I told you about. He tried to keep it from me, but I caught on and saw what it was for.
"Teresa, I know this sounds like I'm making a terrible pun, but I just never thought this size stuff was such a big deal."
[There were a few more chuckles from the studio audience.]
"No, I mean it. What I said to my girlfriend was a tiny little fantasy thought.
"Oh God, I can't believe I said 'tiny'; this just keeps coming out like a bad joke. But I really didn't mean anything by it; it's like maybe a guy wishes his wife was a little bigger in the chest, you know. It's just a harmless thought. It has nothing to do with how much I love my guy or how good it feels to make love with him. It's the closeness, the cuddling together after we climax, that's what matters.
"But I guess Rob just can't see it that way. It's about his manhood. I love him so much, and I've hurt him. I just hope we can get though this."
There was a long pause.
"The way your people have been talking about this? All those 'Needle-dick' jokes?"
"It's not funny. Take my word for it. Well, thank you for taking my call. Goodby. "
"Goodby, Jerri from Cleveland."
Teresa looked out past the cameras to her audience and sensed they were unsettled. The call had taken the edge off the fun. She signaled for another break. While the cameras were off-line, she asked her producer if he had a change of pace call, something lighter.
"Sorry, Teresa, we had a few, but they dropped off during that last call."
Teresa looked at her panel. "We're back. Ok, anyone have any comments on the last call?"
Since they were paid to contribute, the panel members made a few comments, but they had seen how the audience had been affected by the last call. The mood wasn't conducive to any more penis size jokes.
Teresa cut it short.
"Ok, I am advised that we have another caller. I was hoping for something a bit more positive, but for once, my callers are letting me down. I don't know about you, folks, but I'm getting a really bad vibe about this topic. Maybe we girls have been a little bit too casual about it. Right now nobody seems to be finding it to be as funny as they did a while ago.
"Caller? You are live and on the air with Teresa Callas. I understand you don't want to give us a name. What do you have to say to us today?"
"Well, I was watching and I just had to call in when you started on the small dick jokes. To tell the truth, I'm surprised I got though this soon.
"Like that last caller said, penis size is nothing to be making jokes about.
"My George had a small penis, like you've been joking about."
"George is your husband, right?" Teresa said. "He's not going to get all freaked out and sue us for talking about him on the show, is he?"
"No, don't worry. George won't sue you. I can promise you that.
Looking for a chuckle, Teresa winked at her audience. "Well, we carry a lot of insurance for a good reason, but it's nice to be reassured. Ok, Caller, go ahead."
"Like I said, my George had a small penis, like you've been joking about."
Teresa said, "Caller, pardon me for interrupting you, but just how small are we talking about?"
"Well, four inches, I guess, maybe a little bit more. It's not as if either of us ever wanted to measure it."
[That brought forth some studio comments and snickers.]
"Oh, you people can laugh all you want," the Caller said, "Maybe calling in wasn't such a good idea."
Teresa jumped in and used her considerable charm to sooth the troubled caller. Eventually, the woman went on.
"Believe me, my George was a caring, considerate lover. He was real good at the other stuff, with his mouth, you know. Can I talk about stuff like that?"
.... There is more of this story ...