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Working Girl: Safe Sex with an Escort is Like Safe Swimming with Sharks

Just a Regular Working Girl: Moralistic Values Gleaned from My Time in Chicago’s Seedy Underworld

Moral #32: Safe Sex with an Escort is Like Safe Swimming with Sharks.

Good luck with that.

Rejection sucks.Image from Flickr Commons.

Rejection sucks.
Image from Flickr Commons.

The pile of expired condoms sat in the middle of my boss Caroline’s bed. There were maybe fifty altogether.

“Wow,” Caroline said. “That’s more than I thought there’d be.”

“Yeah,” I said.

She had a big bag of condoms, because she was an escort. I was her assistant. So it had been my job to go through the condoms and find all the expired ones.

“Toss all those old condoms out,” she said. “And tell me how I look.”

 

Moral 26: Safety first.

 

She was wearing a mini skirt and a lacy lilac purple thing that I’d helped her buy a week ago. I’d told her a million times how amazing she looked in it, but she was about to meet a new client. That always made her nervous and insecure.

“You look hot,” I said.

She wasn’t convinced. “I’m afraid he’s going to reject me.”

Caroline was 45, but she kept her body perfect. Her diet wasn’t that great, but she ran several miles every morning, and had plastic surgery to make up for any signs of aging she couldn’t outrun.

The only part of her that didn’t look twenty-something was her face. That showed her age, despite the face lift she’d had. Her lips were especially bad. She’d had them enhanced and puffed up twice, so she looked like an exaggerated version of Angelina Jolie. Then she had decided her lips looked too poofy, so she had them reduced.

The reduction had left them looking . . . deflated. They sagged sometimes. She told me that sometimes they got in the way when she was giving blow jobs, or eating. Sometimes, I would glance at her and be reminded of a camel.

I tried so hard not to be reminded of camels. It was a terrible thing to think about someone. But have you ever tried to not think about camels? Most of the time it comes pretty naturally, but other times . . .

See, you’re thinking about camels right now, aren’t you?

 

Moral 27: Too much “fixing things” can ruin things completely.

 

Caroline knew her lips looked bad. She also knew her face showed her age more than any other part of her body. On the ads she placed online, she always chose a camera angle that showcased her entire body, turning her into a landscape of curves, light and shadow, but she hid her face behind the fall of her long brown hair.

This didn’t mean she wasn’t beautiful. She still turned heads when we went out together. It was just obvious that she’d once been even more beautiful.

“You look amazing, Caroline,” I said.

“Really?” she said. “I look good? I’m nervous. Do my boobs look saggy?”

“No,” I said. “You look like a Nascar model.”

She laughed again, but half-heartedly. She wouldn’t stop messing with the lilac thing around her boobs. “Do you think he’ll reject me?”

“The new client?” I said. “Why would he reject you? You’ve agreed to have sex with him.”

“Yeah,” she said. “But he’s never seen my face. I’m afraid that once he sees me in person, he’ll change his mind.”

“That’s crazy,” I said.

“It’s happened before,” she said.

I sighed, struggling to think of comforting words for a prostitute who was afraid her client would be disgusted by her. “I would say, don’t waste your mental energy worrying about something if you don’t even know what’s gonna happen yet.”

She nodded and said, “Yeah, good advice,” but she wasn’t satisfied with it. “He’ll be here in a minute. Will you start a load of laundry before you go shopping? Then when you get back, it’ll be ready to switch over into the dryer.”

The washing machine was in the basement of the apartment building. As I carried the dirty laundry down, I passed a guy coming in who must have been the new client.

There was nothing special or memorable about him. He looked like any other middle-aged white guy. One thing I learned while working with Caroline was . . .

 

Moral 28: You can’t tell by looking at him if a guy pays for sex.

 

It took me a few minutes to get the wash going. I’d gotten really good at washing lingerie and not thinking about it too much when I washed things like thongs. As I came back up to the lobby, ready to go grocery shopping, I passed the client again, this time on his way out. I stared pretty openly at his back as he left the building and became one of the many people walking down the street.

No way he had been that fast. His suit wasn’t even messed up.

For a moment, I stood there debating. Should I go shopping, and let Caroline have a little time alone? A little privacy in which to process? Or should I go back up and do what I could to make her feel better?

I wouldn’t be able to make her feel better. I knew that. But I also knew that Caroline didn’t usually want privacy. Most days, she tried to convince me to stay late into the evening. Not to mention, the lifestyle of a whore wasn’t really conducive to privacy.

I went back up. I knocked on the apartment door, and when I didn’t hear an answer, I let myself in quietly. Caroline was standing in her giant open picture window. It was in a glass wall that led to a sheer drop down the five stories of the building. Chicago in March comes with brutal cold winds, but Caroline still wore her lacy lilac thing.

“Caro?” I said.

I didn’t like the way she was just standing in the open window, so still. Caroline’s energy was usually frantic—she was addicted to ephedra, and drank a lot of coffee. She sometimes talked a mile a minute, and moved so quickly from one task to the next that she needed me to finish things she forgot she’d started. So to see her standing still like this was unnerving.

I wasn’t sure if she was depressed—she probably was—but Caroline didn’t have a death wish. She was impulsive, though, and often did things she later regretted. I wanted her to close the window. But I didn’t want to say the wrong thing.

“I thought you were going shopping,” she said, without turning around.

“I forgot the list,” I said.

She probably knew I was lying. I was very bad at it. Still am.

“Can I tell you a secret?” Caroline said.

“A secret?” I said.

“Yeah, I actually have some. Do you want to hear it or not?”

 

Moral 29: Anytime someone asks if you want to know a secret, say yes. They need someone to trust.

 

“Tell me,” I said.

“Sometimes, I use the expired condoms. And sometimes, I don’t use condoms at all. If they ask.”

“Caroline . . .” I said. I sank down to sit on her couch. Despite everything I’d heard, seen, and even done working with her, she continued to shock me. She always talked about safety. I knew the exhaustive way she checked into most of her clients, and then there was the bag of condoms.

I should have remembered how invested she was in appearances.

I’d wanted so hard to believe she took every precaution. I wanted to believe there was some sensibility in what she did, and how she did it. But there wasn’t, really.

 

Moral 30: People who compromise themselves in one way, will often compromise themselves in another. Sometimes they’ll compromise you, too.

 

“I don’t know why I do it,” she said. “It’s stupid, I know. I guess I’m lucky I’m not dead, right?”

Actually yeah, I thought. She was lucky she’d never been hurt or attacked, though she’d been an escort for nearly twenty years. She was lucky she’d never been arrested. She was lucky she hadn’t contracted HIV.

And who was to say she hadn’t? She probably passed disease out like candy.

She disgusted me then. I hated all of it. The stupid lilac thing she wore, her sagging lips, her trashy skirt. I hated the swanky apartment I cleaned every day. I hated that she was careless and let her cat fall off the roof. Twice. Her lies, her insecurity, her bottomless greed. I wanted to leave her and never come back.

But she wouldn’t get out of the damn window.

I had the sudden impulse to just run forward and push her.

 

Moral 31: Cognitive dissonance. It’s a bitch.

 

“You can go,” she said. “I don’t have the money to pay you for evening hours today.”

She was lying. I knew how much money she had stashed in the cabinet, under her bed, and in her closet. It wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg, compared to what she had in the bank. I didn’t care.

“That’s okay,” I said. “I have to finish the laundry.”

“Thanks,” she said, and I could tell she wasn’t turning around because she was crying. And then my disgust dissolved to pity, and I wondered what was happening to me.

“Sure,” I said. “It’s getting kinda cold in here. Could you close the window?”

 

Moral 32: Safe sex with a whore is like safe swimming with sharks. Good luck with that.

***

L. Marrick is a historical fantasy writer and freelance copywriter. She waxes poetic about swords and the Renaissance Faire at her author blog. She looks all professional-like at her copywriting site. She eats too much chocolate and still doesn’t believe downward dog is supposed to be a restful yoga pose. You can connect with her at either of her websites, and follow her on Twitter @LMarrick.


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