March 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I saw the mountain client in a city, and he asked, “did you have another gig this morning before me?”
I laughed and repeated him (“a gig”) and then there was a moment of quiet before I asked, “you really want to know?”
“Well…yeah,” he said, and made an exhalation almost like a laugh. I had, so I told him the truth. He still got hard and came, however much that matters. In the shower he said “will you take me in your mouth again?” and he finished like that. There was a moment earlier when he corrected me about something and I corrected him back and he said, “I don’t want to argue with you” in a worn, disappointed tone, like we were two exes trading off the kids. I’ve seen him in different cities, different hotels, and no matter the place he always smells the same.
The gig that morning had been my first virgin, a tall, skinny guy who looked like he could be 16 but brought his work badge and talked about his graduate degree. He told me immediately it was his first time. I asked what he’d like and he said he didn’t know. He kept backing away from me so that I felt like I was chasing him around the room, but we were both laughing. “Let’s just hug,” I offered, but even then he let his arms hang by his side. I kissed him and he said, “I don’t know how to kiss.” “Nobody does,” I said. I think he thought I was being flippant to reassure him, but I meant it. I kissed his unmoving lips twice more and he said “thank you.”
We spent more than an hour talking about philosophy, about life. I said I couldn’t manage to believe in God but I hoped there was something more for us than biological, terminal life, and that out of all the infinite possibilities of what could occur, it seemed more likely something would happen after death than nothing. “That’s correct,” he said. He was on a quest to experience everything he never had. He’d smoked pot for the first time the week before.
More and more, what it requires is blurring myself, being the right amount of inside and outside. Lately I’ve begun feeling not quite distressed but simply too much aware of what’s happening and how little I like it. I wasn’t getting the balance right. So I started concentrating on my right hip bone, the skin over the crest, the protruding ridge. Sometimes I would look with my eyes, sometimes it was all internal. Whenever I felt even the slightest possibility of panic, it was back to the quiet right hip bone, still and strong. The rule is that it’s the only thing I can think of.
I had to do it once when a client flexed the muscles around his cock while he was inside me, showing off, maybe trying to be funny. Only my boyfriend does that in me, I thought, wounded, but erased that with my right hipbone, my right hipbone. Years ago, when I babysat, a family told me to sing “You Are My Sunshine” to their daughter before bed, as they did with her each night. But when I started, she stopped me. “You can’t sing that song!” she said, obviously disturbed. I’d felt weird about it anyway.
One client bragged about how he liked to walk around foreign cities — no one ever says they love riding a tour bus — and it reminded me of looking for a place to live in my first urban environment. I felt no connection to him but I said aloud, “I love the smell of laundry coming up from basements in cities where I don’t live. It reminds me of the first few cities I was ever in, and how when I smelled that in them, I realized I really could live there someday.” It still carries that now for me, that sense of possibility, the promise of a jailbreak into a different future, a different life, a different self. Sometime when I’m walking home on a brisk night with the wind blowing, I remember being lost and crying in London at 18, feeling heartbroken but also okay, calmed by the purposeful bodies around me, the people who lived and worked in that place. It seems important to recall periodically how preoccupied and mystified I was that anyone ever got on with their adult lives without making it out to be a big deal. And now I’m one of them doing it, maybe.
At one point in the shower, he hugged me low and I could see his bald spot, which is considerable, the curls around it flattened to his skull where the skin is splotched with sun marks and age. I thought, “one day he’ll die, but he’ll have had this.” And then turned it on myself: “One die I’ll die, but I’ll have had this.” Not “had” because it was so meaningful a thing to cling to. It wasn’t. But “had” because we were both doing it, we’d done it—whatever this “it” was—and it was a part of us and a part of our pasts forever now like all the mundane and wild experiences: the chicken pox, the first dead pet, the best ice cream sundae. It happened and who will it ever matter to besides us? In a way it lasts forever and in another way it evaporates as it occurs, because who can doubt how entirely we will all be erased.
One of my clients invented a game in which we take turns telling the other one false thing and one true thing about ourselves, stories of our past experiences. We both love it, of course we do. It’s picking pennies out of a fountain, remembering what the wishes were and then dropping them back into the water to continue their business of being forgotten.
He’s my best client, in every sense of the word, which makes him the hardest to write about. He’s the one who said once, “If the other men you see don’t appreciate you as much as I do, they’re a bunch of rotten fools.”
With the cock-flexing client, I’d felt precarious the whole time it was happening. From the moment he laid back and made it clear I was to straddle him, I wanted to go completely away. Instead I gripped the tightly pleated curtain above the headboard with my fingers still wet from lube and felt almost pleased at making it dirty, which is unlike me. But immediately I felt I could picture all the other paid women before me who’d touched this fabric with their slippery hands, in this storied hotel in this massive city, women who’d liked it or not liked it and who eventually left the hotel room and then left the building, and gone home to their lives, and I felt so close to them that it lifted me. I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase before, but it lifted me up, it lifted me out. It sustained me for as long as it could in a tolerable place.
When I think of the man’s house in the mountains, I realize how much the home is inside me now: the sense of the empty space inside the largest room, the way the light enters and leaves, even the contents of the pantry. How little it seems tied to the man who brought me there. It almost feels like only mine.
November 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
He says what they all say, “either you’re the greatest actress or…” Or this is who you are, this is real, how I feel with you is real. Though you’d think it would mean something different coming from him.
“I can’t work with an actress unless I’m attracted to her,” he said, and I lost some respect for him. I think I was limiting his attraction to physical and predictable, like all the times he’s called me beautiful when my breasts look too heavy and my face is smeared with something strange, mean nothing. He told me thought he’d only do “this” once or twice, to “get it out” of his system.
“I didn’t expect to like you so much,” he said, and we grinned goofily across the table at one another. He’s my favorite. I don’t know what else to say. Once I came upstairs and he’d put on Radiohead, and it blindsided me. I tried to explain why it’s intense for me to listen to their music because I couldn’t act normally enough to not have to explain, about following them on tour and crying when I accidentally brushed against Thom on my way to use the bathroom in a vegetarian restaurant in Dublin. I cried because I worried it upset him.
“Well, I’d better put on something else,” he said, of the music.
He started in about writing a screenplay again and I couldn’t hear it. “What’s the point?” I demanded. He said something about challenging misconceptions and showing people what it’s actually like and I said that people don’t want to know, there’s plenty attesting to that already but they’re happier with their ignorant meanness and small, nasty fantasies. That one movie wouldn’t change anything, that people would say I was a fluke and a freak and glamorizing it. That I didn’t know how to make a good movie about this topic, how it’d never been done, how impossible it would be to avoid sermonizing if I were doing it for the message. He said there were devices to avoid that and I knew he was right but it seemed hopeless, and every piece of media and art seemed trivial and useless to me then. I kept pressing him on the point.
“Because it’s fun,” he said, most convincingly yet. “Making a movie is fun.”
I stayed quiet because I was becoming strongly angry, teenage angry, even, like I’d been personally slighted. It was almost out of my control when I blurted, “It doesn’t interest me.”
“What doesn’t?” He said, and that made me angry too, because I thought he should have been there with me, thinking like I was thinking.
“Rehashing my life. Telling ‘my story.’ I would have to talk about how I got started and…. It doesn’t interest me at all. I can’t think of anything more boring.” I could barely speak for all the anger gathering. Sick of the suggestion that I should purposefully spread out my tired history, which I know so well, for palatable consumption and probably sick too of knowing it all the time, the way everyone knows their own history in every waking moment, like a scent you think you’ve gotten used to just before you catch a whiff of it again.
I wanted to be an actress once, when I was in college. I am an actress now.
A week later, in an email, I admitted I had one story that I thought would make a good screenplay but I wouldn’t be able to deliver an ending because I didn’t have enough distance. I didn’t say I would give the story to him but he replied that he was looking forward to hearing it, and he will. He told me something his wife had done that changed how he felt about her, and now hearing it has changed me and how I feel about everyone. I haven’t repeated it to anyone, though it’s not for lack of wanting. After dinner he started a fire and I lay against him.
“You made a fire,” I said. “That’s so manly. And you cook. You play the piano.”
“I’m good at husband stuff,” he said. “Except for this.”
I assume one day he’ll read what I’ve written here and that sometime before or shortly after we’ll be entirely out of each other’s lives.
On a plane I sat next to a woman who told me her mother had just died. She apologized for ruining my flight and got drunk while she asked if I were religious, and made me take a black rosary her mother brought back from Italy. We laughed not infrequently. I fed her my chocolate. She asked at least 5 times how her hair looked, if she should wear it up or down. She clutched me in grief, sobbing into my shoulder after I took hold of her hand. “You’re so beautiful,” she told me when she pulled away. “You’re special, I can tell. Oh, look at your teeth.” In a way, it took a lot for me to take her hand and yet in another way there is nothing more natural in the world for me than to physically comfort a stranger.
You are a deck of cards. Someone pulls a card. Someone else pulls another. “Oh you’re the jack of spades,” he says. “Oh you’re the five of diamonds.” Pull and show: the three of hearts, the ten of clubs, the joker. Yes. Yes I am the five of diamonds, I am the ace of clubs, I am the queen of hearts, I am, I am, I am.
October 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I don’t daydream as much as I used to. It must be a symptom of getting older and perhaps the realization there’s too much to lose to disappointment. After one stretch of days with a client whose presence curdles me, I was even more eager to see my favorite. I imagined leaping on him when he opened the door, locking my legs around his waist, but it didn’t happen like that. In person he’s nowhere near as perfect as I remember and yet in some ways he’s more perfect because he’s real, and the ways in which we’re not suited to one another are a gift. We have independent lives to preserve, after all. I’m continually impressed by the simplicity of his sincerity, how he can say something like “it’s heaven to wake up to you” and it doesn’t sound cliched.
In the mountains again he sat before the keyboard as his coffee brewed and he played two verses of “Close To You.” I stood in the kitchen perhaps 15 feet away with the morning spilling through the doors and windows, in a long cotton dress down to my feet that I’d bought only to wear there. He asked me questions I couldn’t answer, though not for lack of trying. I asked him nothing although there’s much that I wonder, especially about his wife. When he clung to me at night, I had the memory of a similarly built man from years before, the one who woke me with penetration, who came and fell asleep with his heavy cock still stretching me as I lay awake around the thickness and fullness, semen leaking between my legs. It had never happened that way before nor happened that way since. I have dreams about it and once woke up in desperation with my heart screaming I would give away anything to be with him like that again. I never will be, which is right and as it should be, the pain the price of a singular experience.
I can admit now that sometimes my work makes me sad but more reliably the mere fact of living makes me sad. I work to deny the diffuse sadness, I use distraction and sharper sadnesses to set small fires in the place that’s always dark. At one time I thought I could make a trade, could make an exchange as smoothly as a con artist’s hand passes one card in place of another, and that a relationship or some other diversion might offer the same relief so I could step away. But it’s too much of a risk. I won’t abandon a patch of calm water to swim through the waves toward the shore.
The most perceptive man knew it, and my mother knows it. She’s lived all her life watching it take shape in me, unable to explain it though she understands. “I thought it was because you were so smart, you wanted so much of the world, you didn’t know what to do and so you turned all that energy in on yourself,” she told me once, speaking of my girlhood, and I had nothing to say. The parental blessing of “whatever makes you happy” always sounded hopeless when it came from her to me, fully meant and futile. Whatever makes it bearable. Whatever keeps you treading water. Whatever moments bob your head about the surface so you can see the wide horizon and grab a breath of cold, rushing air.
July 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
It started in a familiar city I’d not visited for years. Dinner and then fucking. Then a show and more fucking in his room, where he told me that his wife never gave him blow jobs and hated to have even his pre-come make contact with her skin. Which I should have already guessed given what our time consists of.
He is a kept man, and when he told me about his days of orchestrating a seamless life for another person, I became almost jealous. I’d searched his wife before and I knew about her outlandish income. But his regard for his young son is nearly nonexistent or profoundly inaccessible to me. Sometimes I feel at ease with him and at other times he seems too alien for me to understand. He’s generous with praise, he lavishes compliments on his life and his wife, but I can’t figure out what matters to him or what he thinks he’s accomplishing. I know he believes we share unusual commonalities, and that’s probably right. I too have felt like I’m winning a race no one’s watching, a race with no prize and perhaps without end. He pressed me to talk more about my work, why I do it. He said many flattering things, including one about how abundance keeps coming to me because I’m willing to give it away. But I’m not asked to give it away, and I haven’t. He said something about my mystery, as they all do. Is my mystery his mystery? It could be the two of us circle the other’s deep-seeming shallow, glimpsing a reflection, confounded from seeing more. He’s a former professional dancer with a thick head of hair. Once he curled his feet for me as proof.
It was nothing like that in the mountains. A different client greeted me there with one of his lean hugs, trembling less this time than the times before though no less excited. “I can’t believe you’re really here,” he said. He’s excellent at hugging, and we clung to each other for a long time. It was maybe an hour later that another hug turned into more, and when I swallowed his come on my knees in his kitchen, I glanced to the left and saw my face in the broad side of his toaster, as though the appliance had been placed at exactly that angle for exactly that purpose.
He said he wanted to make a movie together, but I had to write the screenplay. “I can’t write it,” I said, though I thought maybe I could. We ate corn on the cob and made out. He smeared me with so many things—pieces of pies, copious amounts of custard—and then we washed it away. I came only once, rubbing myself against his erection with our hips pressed together and our torsos apart, side by side on the bed. It had been building up for hours. By that time it was dark and I didn’t want to move, I couldn’t think of any of the normal actions I might perform before falling asleep. I couldn’t think of anything more that needed to be done. Every day blue unfolded beyond the windows and the home was full of light. Every morning I rolled over him and made him come with my mouth. “I haven’t had this much sex in 25 years,” he said, and we laughed.
He played his keyboard upstairs while I listened to it downstairs, sorting my things. On the first night, without flourish, he gathered my hair in his hands and held it to his nose. And when we notched our bodies together before sleep, he kissed my shoulder quickly and lightly many times, the kiss of a man overwhelmed with sweetness, cherishing the feeling of being full. It’s almost audible, that swell of emotion, the wave that seizes up everything nearby. He did it just as my boyfriend does on nights when he loves me the most, so I thought of my boyfriend and I simultaneously thought of him, the man I was with, and whether I should feel torn or guilty or awkward were considerations that melted before they could surface. It was a deep sleep, a sleep that felt necessary.
Months before all that I’d been in the hills of a different coast, alone for the first time with a client I’d passed several days with in the even more distant past. He told me I looked younger and thinner now, which made me cross. We sat in his hot tub at night and picked food from his garden during the day, and when I wrapped a scarf around my head to keep away the flies, he said I looked like I was from “Magic City.” Then he had to tell me what that was. I tried to write something after that visit but this was all I could manage:
The mountains broke all things open. In the dream of myself, there is only future, no past. The mountains are pulses of my younger selves, wholly separate, liquid, and completely beyond explaining.
I also wrote, “It’s so easy, when you’re happy, to swear you’ll never give in to suffering again.”
The last leg of the long trip was with two people, a man and another girl for hire. Her skin may have been even paler than mine—”I like your color,” the mountain man said to me one day in the car—though she had several exquisite tattoos. She and I wrung out every moment alone together, like in the public bathroom before the movie, desperate to be candid with one another. We’d never met before, but I came shortly after we did, while straddling his face. Even when I know another woman’s noises are fake, they’ll turn me on. “He’s so sweaty,” she whispered to me while he was in the shower. “I felt bad when he was lying on top of you. Like, ‘give her some space!’” Some working women I’ve been with try to fetishize the other woman’s body (“Oh, doesn’t Ashley have the best ass you’ve ever seen?”) but when I said something to him about how soft her skin was and how beautiful her tattoos, she didn’t respond in kind.
She faked sleep masterfully in the morning. I was fooled until he got up to use the bathroom and I heard her shifting to her side. I turned on my own and we looked into each other’s wide eyes. “I have morning breath,” she said, making a face. “Me too,” I whispered. “I hate that. It doesn’t make any sense. I brush my teeth right before bed every time.” We laid quiet for a beat, listening for him. He’d come out and found us giggling the previous day, and asked something like “what are you two saying about me?” At one point, when he was taking turns fucking us, she was underneath him and I was lying next to them, and she reached out for my hand. I wasn’t sure if she knew it was me, or if she was aware of what she was doing or if her work body was taking over, touching any skin it brushed against, but I closed my fingers around hers. It felt like an honor. I don’t like holding hands with men but there is something unspeakably special about holding hands with another woman.
He asked me why I kept doing this work and I gestured to what was around us, the mostly empty restaurant, the waterfall behind the glass. I tried to explain that it was about the adventure, about experiences I would never otherwise have. I didn’t tell him that collecting these moments seems like the only point of being alive. The next day I drove up a winding mountain path and a different he was at the end of it.
“You’re so pretty in the morning, it’s not fair, you’re not even wearing make-up,” she said in a half-bitter, half-wistful rush, and I felt like I should say something self-effacing but I could only giggle and then so did she. We laughed in the morning light, hiding our bad breath behind our hands, rolling closer towards each other across the space where his body had been.
June 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Though I was quite young when watching films like Mannequin and Tootsie, the 80s’ take on adult female life was what I grew up holding on to. I imagined that once I was of age I would live alone and urban, enveloped in that 80s coldness as I dated and stopped dating, had friends with whom I was not particularly intimate, wore masculine, loud fashion. Suits especially—and I have never once owned or worn a suit.
While I never suspected I would be a whore, I probably knew better than to believe I would work any conventional 9-5 job, so in many ways this particular dream of the future was a dream of being someone else. But a gentle dream, a writer’s dream born out of curiosity and not unhappiness, although I do sometimes feel vaguely cheated that this life is not to be had. This song sounds like a requiem for that child’s idea of what life will be like in the future.
Sometimes I look at a stranger while I’m out in public and try to summon a sense of the depth of their life, to fathom the sheer number of incidents that have hurt and delighted, ruined and remade. The little things, too, because they are just as important: the cheap thefts, the funny confusions, the moments that seemed to have no consequence beyond leaving a mental image. It is staggering to think about all these histories being dragged about by every living thing. It seems nearly impossible; my own is so detailed and vast that I can recall only a small fraction.
Recently I thought for the first time in years of childhood church services in the summer, when Sunday mornings took place outside by the thin river in town and my father and some of his friends led the services through song, and the sermonizing was brief and informal, and my brother and I sat in the sun or whatever sparse shade we could find, squinting, playing with ants, singing. The stack of sheet music that sat at home on the kitchen table until this day newly fresh and pinned flat in the wind. The swell of “How Great Thou Art,” that triumphant crescendo of “then sings my soul” pricking tears today although at the time I probably sang the words absently, with my head down or tilted up, gaze half-full of sky, half-full of trees. It doesn’t matter if I forget this again for years or for forever, because it will always be sitting somewhere inside me and I will react a certain way or say a certain thing, unwittingly, responding to all those times I sat on the scratchy ground and watched my father play guitar as the water moved behind him.
I mean, everyone is this way. Everyone.
April 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“Do I smell like my car?” He said. “Do I smell like [what I transport in my truck]?”
“Oh. Do you want me to take a shower?”
“You can if you want to. You don’t have to.”
“Ok, well, I will if you want me to. But I don’t want to.” He peered at me like I was going to challenge him. “I just want to make it clear that I will.”
“If you’re going to be preoccupied by it, you should. Do whatever makes you comfortable.”
“I can’t even smell it.”
“I know, because you’re used to it. I’ll get used to it too.”
“Just tell me if you want me to.”
“If you want to take one, take one.”
“I’m not going to take a shower,” he said, leaning back into the couch.
“We’ve established that.” I said. My body language was slightly combative. I angled myself to face him fully and moved further away in the process. “You said in your email you had something you wanted to tell me.”
He sighed. “Well yeah but I thought we were going to be cuddled up, under the covers. Not like this.”
“It never gets easier with me,” I told him. We weren’t fighting exactly. We were tussling, feeling each other out.
“Really? Why would you say that? Why? Why are you like that?”
Our conversation overlaps like someone shuffling cards. I can’t remember it all because it goes so fast at first. He teases out every one of his reactions at once. Somehow that makes it harder to be evasive. Maybe it confuses me.
I laughed, a short laugh. “I don’t know why, that’s just how it is.”
“People have told you that?” He either asked or I was already thinking it or both. The older man said, I have to start over with you, every time. That was either when I first noticed it, or it could have been with him that I first developed it.
“Yeah, people have told me. I’m telling you what people have told me.”
“It’s cause you’re a hard woman. I think you’re a bit of a seductress, though.” He said it as though he were talking to himself. “But you’re a seductress.” Shuffling his sentences, too, repeating words as he refined his thoughts.
I was dressed in a black strappy tank top and my hair was in my face. I hadn’t shaved because he asked me not to. I said, “What’s up with the aversion to showers, like you’re a little kid?”
I don’t treat him like he’s my client but he doesn’t act like he is. He almost acts like he’s been sent to deal with me, not against his will—but there’s an inevitability when we’re together that lets me show him my edge. I know what I can get away with; I know the hostility is provocative, maybe necessary. I think he’s a man who needs to be challenged. Our chemistry is already there, it’s not something we have to create, so my coldness can’t threaten it.
I can’t remember how we ended up in bed. I remember him pulling back the covers and me asking “in our jeans?” And he said yes but then we both took ours off. Undressed ungracefully on opposite sides of the bed, like adversaries or spouses.
Up close, with my nose at his neck, he smelled good. I couldn’t even notice the car smell anymore. I meant to tell him that but I didn’t. He lips are so soft and he kisses conservatively. It makes me wonder if he doesn’t like the way I’m kissing him and I almost don’t mind if he doesn’t. Whatever the cause, it’s such a relief to not have my mouth violated by an unwelcome tongue.
“So you said you’re seeing someone,” I asked him, only curious. But he pulled away.
“Alright let’s set the table here,” he said. I laughed at him for that and repeated it later: let’s set the table. “Do you really think we have amazing sex or is that something you tell everyone?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that before,” I said. I meant that I’d never said it to a client but I may have never said it to anyone. He was quoting an email I wrote him, when I teased him about my needing to find someone else to do it with.
“Okay so am I just like any other client to you? Because if I am it’s fine, I’ll keep seeing you and paying you.”
“And if you’re not?” I asked.
“I’ll…probably keep paying you.” He said, and I laughed because he was right and I loved that he had the presence of mind to know it.
I wish I could ask him how he would write this. I can’t remember it nearly as well as I wish I could. The exact words with which he asked me to tell him he was special—they escape me. Though he may have used the word “special” and he probably applied it more expansively, not to him per se but to our time together.
“We have an uncommon…” I said it with hesitancy, trying to find the right words. I can’t remember what I said or if I said anything more at all.
“I want you naked and on top of me,” he whispered.
“That can happen,” I said.
He rolled us over. “But I want to be patient.”
It’s redundant to mention the wetness. He breathed something to me that I couldn’t completely hear: “Last time, when you were on top of me, I came because you….” I don’t know that I want to come with him at all but I wish our fucking lasted longer, or that it would happen again and again. I can’t tell if he only goes once out of some idea of respect or because he’s sated. I don’t know if he thinks I have an orgasm or if he’s not sure and doesn’t care, or not sure and feels embarrassed asking. He’s only a few years older than me but in a lot of ways it feels like he’s younger.
Once I searched my boyfriend’s suitcase for condoms while we were away on a trip together. He’d threatened to sleep with another woman and I thought if I found there them I’d know how serious he was. I didn’t, and it felt like the meaningless information it was. Later he told me he fucked her and then went on court and blamed his loss on still being angry at me. The fact that I was the undercurrent in his mind even while he was with her made the act irrelevant.
You get smarter at seeing how true power manifests. And it’s not about limiting someone’s actions.
I have complete control over my orgasms now, which comes with age for a lot of people, I think. It happens when I want it to happen or not at all. My control over the orgasms of the men I’m with is not bad, either. Usually it’s in the eyes. Underneath one of my more demanding clients—one of those men who is insistent upon my enjoying it as much as he does—I let a thrill of pleasure fall over my face, a small, dirty smile with my mouth open, my eyelids giving one slow-motion flutter, and I felt him get harder inside of me, and a breath later he came.
I’m not sure how I feel about being this disconnected from arousal. It doesn’t make me unhappy, at least not directly. I can feel some motion of a man’s turning me on and I simply make it stop. I cut it off. Not what he’s doing but what I’m feeling. I don’t know why I can’t afford to give more orgasms away. I don’t feel closer to someone after I come. But I feel covetous of them, though they have no meaning. I think I want someone to earn them through an extraordinary summoning of pleasure, not just through repetitious and mechanical movements.
The last time I came with a client, it was a single father of two who cried when he spoke about his sons. We did a father-daughter roleplay and I felt my own wetness at the top of my inner thighs before he’d even touched me. I wiped some of it away with the back of my hand as discreetly as I could, embarrassed, not sure he would believe it was real.
In every fantasy I can ever remember having since I’ve been an adult, there is more than one man and they speak, particularly to each other, but I never do. I might moan or whine or whimper but I never even try to form a word. It’s a dream of being used completely.
The distance isn’t something I need because my work is so horrible. The distance is probably something I want, because it’s as close as I can come to disappearing. “I don’t want you to move somewhere I don’t know about, where I have no way of finding you,” my mom said recently. She’s said this so often I’ve forgotten if it’s an unfounded fear of hers, or something I’ve actually done in the past.
“You were on top of me, and the way the light was coming in through the window—you looked like a goddess,” a client told me. “I began thinking of how you sat across me at the restaurant, clothed, conversing, just hours before. And now here you were…and how utterly the same and yet not the same you were at that moment.” That used to be the type of thought that snagged me, too, but I don’t dwell there anymore. I take my joy where I can get it.
One man dressed me in a giant, worn T-shirt of his and taught me how to blend oil paint on the canvas and I felt like a child again from the delight. One man drenched me in chocolate sauce, bottle after bottle of it, pouring it down my pants, into my underwear, over my hair. He shuddered in ecstasy while he rubbed the viscous liquid over my skin and I couldn’t stop smiling, tasting its false sweetness on my mouth. “Don’t forget the pockets,” I told him, as I held them open at my hips. I slid my hands in afterwards and the substance was cold, silky, thick. I laughed. I sucked his chocolate covered cock while I was wet with myself and sticky with the rest of it, kneeling in an oily brown bathtub. I lay back in his arms and we soaked in it afterwards as the warm water diluted the mess. “You’re beautiful,” he said over and over, my hair matted into heavy dreads, my eyelashes even coated, as he looked me full in the face. You could fall in love with someone after an hour or two as pure as that.
I thought, whoever would take me would have to take my bitterness. My sleep became ragged if my sleep came at all. I tried to write someone an email about something that took a long time. “It costs forever,” I found myself typing.
February 4, 2012 § 1 Comment
One city is quietly special for me. It’s the place where I first truly committed to doing this, to arranging a life of men and travel and money. I already had those things but it wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I still want more. And it matters that I made that decision while I was in a place I’d never been before, alone in a hotel room, like I was pushing pause on that moment, sustaining “alone in a hotel room” across a long field of time.
I continue to have trouble feeling love across distances yet I don’t stay at home. When I’m away, I forget about people who are supposed to matter to me and I feel forgotten by them. Once the older man found a copy of How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found in my bookshelves and he confronted me with it while I was doing something in the other room. I remember him shaking, demanding, what is this? And I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do with the way he was looking at me, eyes wild as a horse’s. It must have been something he sensed about me already. That was back when he said contemplating the inevitability of my death made him nauseated. He’d placed that much of his hope on me. We haven’t spoken in years.
Though I’ve never been a romantic, never fantasized about weddings or marriages or having children, I’ve realized I want one man to love me behind everything else. I want his love to be my scenery while I do whatever I want on the stage. I suppose this is what a father is supposed to do, but mine can’t, or I wouldn’t ask him to now. There were moments in my childhood when he managed but ultimately I pushed it away. His love was poor so I thought I’d rather not have it at all. Let the stage be empty until something better fills the background. I guess that’s too much to ask from most people. I’ve been told it’s too hard. What would I be like if I were an easy person to love? Hardly myself: easy to become infatuated with, impossible to partner.
“Do you think you’ll ever turn yourself over to one man?” a client once asked.
I laughed. “Turn myself over,” I said. “Like he’s a sheriff.”
He told me it was the defining question of his own life, whether he could subvert the unsatisfied aspects of himself, could quiet or erase them in order to please another. He acted as though I might not know he was married, so I played along. Finally he admitted that once during a romantic dinner at a vacation spot, his wife told him, I had a dream that you were paying for sex. And he leaned across the table and said, at least I was buying something worth paying for.
“She doesn’t realize that the ooey-gooey stuff isn’t enough for me,” he said, meaning the emotional intimacy or rather the illusion of it, the platonic massages, the flattery he dispenses so relentlessly. (“You’ve ruined me, you know. I can’t see anyone else anymore, because they’re not you.”) “But, it’s like no, Honey. I need my cock sucked. And I need my cocked sucked like Charlotte sucks my cock.” I smirked. Moments earlier I’d knelt before him and he drew my head back using my hair as a handle, pulling my face perfectly parallel to catch all of his come. “Oh, baby,” he gasped the first time I ever put my mouth on him, eventually yanking me away by the ponytail in his fist to kiss me. “I love the way you take care of me.”
My most generous client is an astoundingly tall man who I first met while I was high, or at least I was at the point where all the symptoms of feeling high bled into the symptoms of having been up for a long time without sleeping or eating. I was in a good mood and probably even more expressive than usual, and when after less than two hours he left the suite he’d reserved for us, I knew not to take it personally. Occasionally they have to be businesslike about sex, practical, either because that’s their dominant mode and it’s too hard to shake or because they’re making an effort to keep the encounter elemental. It’s not that he’s spent more on me than any other person but that he leaves exorbitant amounts given that we won’t be together for very long. It seems all he usually wants to do is go down on me and fill me with his massive fingers.
I saw him again in another city, and then again, and sometimes it doesn’t take much for me to feel attached. Sometimes a tenderness can bloom even more readily without the long dinners and the shows. When I saw him most recently there was something unusually warm in how he treated me. We hugged goodbye for a long breath while the sun was setting. I had the impression that we meant something to each other and it was terrible to be left by myself. I sat on the bed in the robe pouching around me like a deflated gown, my iPod still playing on the room’s stereo system. Expansive loneliness seeped out to fill the corners of the room. I could barely move. I felt sad enough to shatter.
It could be that I’m so good I even trick myself. I thought of how other girls I know sometimes say they can’t stand to think of any part of the man’s genitals touching their own, and they try to keep his strokes shallow so he doesn’t press in past the rim of the condom. That never even occurs to me. I always go for depth. I always touch their faces or at least their necks’ smooth slope to the base of the skull. I lay my head on their chests uninvited.
“I wish we’d met under different circumstances,” one client said recently. “Not because the circumstances under which we met are wrong. But because I’d like to know you personally.” It was preoccupying him. It was all he could talk about while we laid together, how he wanted to be my friend. I didn’t ask him why—I barely spoke at all—but he told me.
“I think you’re special. I think you’re incredibly intelligent. You might even be frighteningly brilliant.”
I laughed. “You have no evidence of that.”
“I know X,” he said. “I know Y.” I just shook my head.
“I’d like to go out to dinner with you and have you talk. Just talk.” He stared into my eyes and I remember his next words exactly. “It would be a blessing to listen to you.”
When we’d met for the first time in a different city, he was describing his day without saying exactly where he’d been, but it was obvious, so I made a casual mention of what the company’s space is known for, and he admitted that was where he’d been.
“They have so much money there,” He said. “Silly money—so much money that they don’t know what to do with it all. And do you know what all of them want?”
I smiled because of course I knew. “More money.”
“More money,” he whispered.
Gradually I’ve come to see how often good people can be behind bad things. Once I saw a client just hours before he was to speak at Pat Robertson’s university. And he was nice. He wrote me an email afterwards calling me an angel, enchanting. It’s so easy to be angry with broad strokes. It’s too easy to hate people because of how they look on paper but then you meet them and they’re not so bad. The truth is not most of us are not trying as hard as we could. And maybe most of us don’t deserve kindness or forgiveness but what other options are there.
I had a convoluted dream involving a man who was supposed to be my father but who wasn’t my father. He was getting a divorce and I said, “I’m sorry,” and I meant it; I felt personally responsible for his sadness. There was a car crash in a rocky desert and my not-aunt and possibly my real mother were there. One was injured and childlike and I took her hand. At our feet a long path wound down to a valley full of people at picnic tables alongside a massive home. “Torment,” one of the women said. “Torme?” the other asked, as though that were the name of a place. “You want to go to Torme?” But I understood where she wanted to go and we started down together the path together. As we approached, I was suddenly suffused with the most complete love I’ve ever felt in my life. A melody much like “The Very Thought of You” was playing slowly, languorously. Time moved like molasses. I knew the people we approached were not all my friends. Some of them didn’t know me, some of them didn’t like me, but this overwhelming love existed anyway. I woke up and my eyes were full of tears. I don’t know how it could have ended any other way.