THERE WAS SOMETHING in the voice. The phone had been busy, understandably busy after her name had surfaced in the papers, busy for most of one day and part of the next and then, after the football game and during "Battlestar Galactica," there was one last try. She answered right off and there was something in the voice that was familiar. It was the sound of an easy woman.

Don't write. Don't yell. There's not a man who doesn't know what I mean -- hasn't heard it. The message is never in the words, in what is said, but in the tone -- a come-on, a clinging. If this had been face to face, there would have been something in the eyes or some sort of body language, but this was the phone and there was this something to the voice -- a plea, something plaintive. Something.

She had it. This is the lady who said she had sex with about 50 Montgomery County policemen -- on and off duty. This is either a dubious achievement worthy of next year's Esquire or something for the Guinness Book of World Records. At an rate, her claim encompasses something like 10 per cent of the force, even more if you exclude desk types and plain clothes officers. It's usually the uniform that attracts.

The lady would say otherwise. In interviews with the papers, she said she was lonely and seeking friendship.She said she never enjoyed the sex and she told, in a pathetic way, of a party she had for some cops in which they came expecting group sex and she expected to play charades or something. She had bought a party tablecloth and napkins and all they wanted is what they always wanted.

The whole thing has turned terribly official. The police are investigating the charges of this lady and another who has since moved to Michigan. She claims she lured the cops by calling them on her CB radio and while she does not offer any numbers, the word "several" is used and all the several were on-duty officers. You get the feeling that what Montgomery County needs is a good crime wave.

But the county is no special place. Groupies can be found anywhere. Wherever there are cops there are groupies. Firemen, too, have groupies and bus drivers and politicians, of course, and rock stars and even -- would you believe -- journalists, although things are not what they were during the wonderful days of Watergate.

Just what prompts a groupie to be a groupie is beyond me. There was a woman I knew once, a close friend of a girlfriend's, who was under psychiatric care for her problem, which was cops, or, to be more specific, the uniform of cops. She used to run red lights and drive over the white line in the middle of the road just so she could meet cops. She was notorious in her home precinct, pretty well known in some others and her fame was spreading even to the state police. She was tall with long red hair and a nice figure -- very rich and very beautiful and very sick. She married a cop and left him when he made detective and stopped wearing his uniform.

Anyway, there are probably lots of things to say about all this -- something, certainly, about the seriousness of the charges involved. Unless you happened to be married to one of the policemen in the case, it really doesn't matter what they were doing -- bowling, watching television or anything else. What matters is that they are accused of not being on the job for sometimes as much as four or five hours. Putting sex aside, if such a thing is possible, this is a serious charge.

But there is something else about all this that is troubling and it has to do with how everyone -- everyone I know, including me -- reacted when the accusations first hit the press. There was both contempt and pity for the woman involved. We felt sorry for her, thought she was sick. thought there was something wrong -- you choose the right words. No one really said anything about the cops, which is always the way it is with these things. There is a boys-will-be-boys explanation for these matters and in a sense it's as good an explanation as you're going to get. The way things now work, it's sick for one woman to have sex with 50 men but for 50 men to have sex with her, serially and in groups, is all right -- the American Way.

Why that is, I really don't know, but it's the sort of thinking that's now being challenged by laws making prostitution a crime for both parties. All I know is that you are told at a very early age to get your sex when you can and where you can and not to ask questions -- to demand no pyschological bon fides. In the end, men wind up as much the victims as the women they victimize. They are the ones, after all, who take some woman into a police car, cheat on their wives as well as their jobs, know she has been with, say, 49 others, know also that the last thing she cares about is them -- the nonuniformed them -- know, too, that maybe they don't enjoy it all that much and yet when she beckons, they go -- once, twice. No more, though. They are, like most men, contemptuous of women like her.

They think she's the one who's easy.