Thank you for contributing to my writing during an exciting, scary, pivotal time. This one’s for you:
D. Brown, R. Brock, L. Jackson, and Zen Pocho a.k.a. Mr. Navarrete
When I pictured the lady who was on the self-help CD playing loudly in my car,
I imagined a bottle blonde with caky beige foundation who watched Oprah religiously and made an award winning stroganoff. She talked about our lizard brains.
“The cave woman voice inside tells us someone is hot and when that happens, we should sprint away from that person because it will never work; you will never be yourself with that person. You will bend yourself into a pretzel out of insecurity.”
I was driving to Joe’s house for an appointment. It was a cool, clear night in that perfect crack between summer and fall in Los Angeles when the stars smash through the smog and the moon’s a fat apricot and jackets can finally be worn, instead of being draped across the backs of chairs.
As the woman spoke, I bobbed my head in agreement and drove north, feeling silly for listening to “Getting in Synch With the Opposite Sex” for the fifth time, hoping for a radical plate tectonic shift in my heart, ashamed of my loneliness and sober with the awareness that I’m lonely due to specific decisions I’ve made over the years. The facts sunk in heavy with my nodding head:
I’m a celibate sex worker. Haven’t been laid in months.
I pulled up to a charming old Hollywood building on Franklin Avenue. I checked the text from Joe. I had the right address but the gate was locked. I parked and listened to the end of the section on lizard brains:
“The cave woman wants an adversary who will protect her,” she said. “But what you need is a partner and you have to sift through the masses quickly. Forget about strategy and manipulation.”
A tall guy with hair dark as licorice ropes tapped on my window. I jumped. He was in skinny black jeans, a faded t-shirt and Vans.
“You’re at the wrong entrance,” he said. Park up there. He pointed towards a parking lot near the Hollywood Bowl. On the street was a cop talking to a woman in a tight sweater. Her hands were on her hips. Joe remained across the street, waiting for me.
“The cave woman is looking for a protector. She just wants babies, nothing else. If your sexual attraction is an eight on a scale from one to ten, run.”
I got out and the air was thin, unlike New Orleans, so I put my jacket on to walk beside him. He was part hipster NY musician and part Italian underwear model. He was pale, tall and had bad posture.
“You must be swimming in pussy. I can’t imagine why you would call me,” I said, remembering the dog piss and jasmine smell of Hollywood that surrounded us. He flashed a Calvin Klein men’s cologne ad smile. We entered a building with avocado green walls and a small, ancient elevator that clicked as it moved up.
“I’ve never done this before,” he said.
My lizard brain wanted to stick my hands down his jeans in the elevator. My cave woman instincts wanted to forgo the job at hand. But as usual, I needed cash. Clients always call all at once, and it’s best to show up and work, to make up for the time when no one calls; the lean days when I go to New Orleans to dance.
We got off on the fourth floor and walked down a slim hallway to room 412.
“I read your writing,” he said.
“It wasn’t that hard. Hacked into a photo and found your name. You’re an excellent writer.”
The closest word to describe my hair standing on end and being flattered simultaneously was that I felt “churned.” The other layer is the fact that I wanted to fuck this guy, which was disconcerting. When my desire entered the equation, I felt confused. It was easier to do deeds for pay with men who had Eczema, receding hairlines and wives at home whom they loved.
A hot client brings out my defensive parts. It’s an anger response because I know I’ll never date them, so I’m strict. Stingy. I flirt then shut down. I fill the room with resentful silence.
I’ve never crossed the line between client and boyfriend. It’s a boundary I’ve had for over a decade, and though I know lots of women who’ve hooked up with clients who became boyfriends, I’ve never blended the two; never slept with managers or bosses. Friends of mine have fucked every bus boy in town when they waited tables. Strippers I know screwed around with DJ’s, managers and security guards, and though it’s physically impossible to not mix business with pleasure in my job, I needed to maintain a lot of mileage between what I did professionally and what happened in my bed.
I thought of the CD again, “Tell them who you are right off the bat. If they don’t like you they’ll do you the favor of going away.” I sat on a red couch overlooking a courtyard, and Joe pulled the blinds.
Joe’s not a date, he’s a client, I thought.
“How does this work?” he asked.
I walked over to a stack of books piled on a table: Mary Karr, Norman Mailer, Denis Johnson and Mary Gaitskill. I picked up the Karr. “I’m reading this right now,” I said, fondling “Liar’s Club.”
“I’d totally fuck you,” I said, “but not in this context.” I stood with my face inches from his.
I removed Joe’s shirt and slid out of my fishnets.
My exact nature regarding time began to melt. Docking the minutes eroded in the heat of his presence, which is another problem with attractive clients and another reason I knew I’d never see Joe again. I noted the time and reigned in the impulse to pull on his hair and slather oil on both of us.
We’re both hunters, I thought, the CD looped around in my skull while I explored Joe’s muscular back and long swimmers thighs, dangerous obliques and tense shoulders.
“Women are gatherers and men are hunters. Two hunters together is a disaster.”