Friday, February 20, 2015

A Fine Romance- Details on Dating a Hooker Part I


            There was a girl named Tabitha with whom I had a torrid affair. The first thing people ask me about this relationship is, “How do you date a hooker?” To which I reply, “You just have to remember, when she fucks another guy it’s not personal, it’s just business.” If you can get past that bump in the road, you’re golden.
                                                             I.
The most beautiful of street hookers. Well… there was definitely a beat-up and used quality to her. She must’ve been gorgeous once, now there were deep black lines engrained in her face, like a bigfoot style portrait. To me that only accented what was once there. A faded memory… true beauty.  She was thin, and I mean rail thin, with cheekbones that drew out her face, making her head seem too large for her body, and a big ol’ Jewish nose that I loved. Large brown eyes that no matter what she said or what attitude she tried to project, betrayed a vulnerability that caused me to pause. She knew it too.
The vulnerability was real, but she used it like a snake charm. She had it down to an art and thrived -actually more like survived - on it.  The men she snagged either exploited her or tried to be savior types. Needless to say, those trying to “help” ended up getting used in the end. I never understood how a  guy could fall for Tabitha’s lies, her manipulations were as subtle as a sledgehammer. "I’ll pay you back next week. I’m expecting some money, so could you buy this expensive useless item?” But, I guess there are plenty of men in the world who go stupid for a pretty face.
The ironic part is that the guys who used her, aggressively and openly, are the ones who got the sex and the money. She  immediately crumpled under any pressure and then waited to be tossed aside like a used condom.
I dealt with her by doing neither. I didn’t give or take. She could keep her stuff, but she wasn’t getting mine. An odd respect grew between us over this. Some of you might be shaking your heads, but this is normal for my relationships. What do I look for in a woman? I look for intensity! Something out of the ordinary to set a woman apart from the bovine mooing herds. Tabitha had that in spades.
I first met her at a Waffle House, a couple of blocks from my apartment. Like all sophisticated people, the Waffle House was my favorite non-alcoholic haunt. I liked it because as long as I tipped well, the servers let me hang out for as long as I wanted. It gave me a place to read, write, and whatever else I needed to do.
Twenty years ago it had been a prosperous area, burgeoning with cash and supporting its own mall. Now all of the high-end retail shops, electronic stores, and restaurants had been replaced by bail bondsmen, pay-day loan shops, strip clubs, off-brand dollar stores, fading pornographic book stores, low-rent accident lawyers (“Hurt in a car, call Jamie DaFarr!”), pawn shops (“We buy gold!”), musty motels (“By the hour, day, or week.”), salmonella chicken shacks, storefront Christian start-up ministries (like all businesses usually doomed within a year), and used tire dumps.
Or simply rows of empty storefronts. Gutted plazas, littered with the shells of stores.  There were acres of cement pavement, cracked with age, weeds growing up through the wounds. A man can understand real loneliness when walking around these places. And everything, everything, had a used feel to it. You could see where it had once been brand spanking new and the most modern architectural design. Now it was just worn out, waiting to be torn down.
My Waffle House was smack in the middle of this region. It was a junked up little place, little had changed in it from when it had been thrown up in the early 60s. This seems to be the Waffle House business plan, throw one up and work it to death, until its officially condemned. Apparently back in the day, you had to actually wait to find a seat in the place, now there is no such nonsense. Hours would drift lazily by where I was the only customer, which is just how I liked it. The rest were mostly strippers (“Can I pay in sweaty, wrinkled up ones?”), transients (“How much for half a bowl of grits?”), lost tourists and low rent individuals who frequented the aforementioned businesses…. plus me.
I was sitting at the counter reading A Journal of the Plague Year, enjoying the silence of the evening and a cheap cup of coffee, when in she came. Wild eyed , she was talkied loudly about how she needed a light for her cigarette and how there was no good medical emergency services in this area. She flipped back and forth between the two subjects almost randomly, making her conversation nearly incomprehensible. The annoyed server just stood there, nodding at her while paying no actual attention.
I looked over. How could I not? She was thin as hell.  I got the idea that she must’ve recently lost a lot of weight because all of her clothes were baggy. Her belt on the last loop and still the pants sagged, while her stained lime green shirt hung about her like a burlap sack. She had on some bizarre crushed red-purple velvet jacket with a lot of puffy fringe at the collar and cuffs, that looked way too hot for the Southern climate.
We made eye contact and she bee-lined over, ending her rant at the near comatose waiter with, “We’ll talk later.” She stood over me holding a cigarette between two extended fingers, clumsily making sure the jacket draped open at an angle to show off her once sleek, now wrecked and sallow, figure. She was so obvious it was laughable. But then me being me, if she had been subtle I probably would’ve missed it.
“Light?” She said, eyes arching up.
At the time I was a two pack a day man, so of course I had a lighter on me. I held it out.  She rubbed my hand as she took it and walked outside. Cheap trick. I figured that that would be the last I saw of her or my lighter. Through the diner window I could see her talking on her phone, pacing back and forth, and making dramatic gestures with her cigarette arm. I turned back to my enthralling tale of people dying of bubonic plague.
A few pages later, I looked up and found her sitting next to me, just staring. “I didn’t want to disturb you…” She said, slipping the lighter across to me. After an initial introduction, she started talking at me in great detail about her life. It wasn’t all just babbling, and there was incredible emphasis in her voice as she painted herself as a tragic figure. She looked directly into my eyes, forcing me to maintain contact and actually have to pay attention to what she was saying. For some reason (I assume common courtesy), I didn’t want her to think that her sad history didn't interest me.
As she went on, she crept closer and closer. That’s when the smell washed over me: stale hair. It was matted down and untended, and almost looked like a poor plastic reproduction of a human scalp. The stench had that odd soapy oil odor that hair will get if it’s not taken care of. I’m not sure how long it takes to get it to smell like that, but my assumption is several weeks.
Like many junkies, she seemed to have an aversion to  getting water on her skin. Usually after a month of steady using, the average (from my previous job experience) crackhead smells like raw ass left out in the sun. Of courese at this time I had no idea that she was an addict, I simply thought that she needed to wash her hair.
Our first conversation was mostly about her various, and completely fictitious, health problems. Conversation is really a misnomer since it implies active participation from both parties. It was really just her rattling on, with me nodding and deploying the occasional interjection. “Yeah.” “Huh.” “I see.” “How about that?” She said that she had a muscular disorder which caused her to not be able to move properly and that she also had a different muscular disorder that was wasting her muscles away. She claimed to have gum disease and that most of her teeth were rotting out of her head (not true, as I later discovered), again this was supposed to be because of some disorder rather than her not brushing her teeth. This was all loused up even further by the ubiquitous, and difficult to disprove, back injury.  She had a lot of technical terms for her conditions, or at least what I assumed were the technical terms.  They were all latin-esque and I couldn’t tell you if they were correct or not, but I nodded knowingly and pretended I understood, like when I go to the mechanic.
After realizing that I would listen to her for an extended period of time, she said, “We could go back to my room and talk some more for a while if you like. We can just hang out and whatever.”
 
I said sure. Really, how could I not? First though, I excused myself to the bathroom and shoved my wallet into my underwear, just in case she was leading me somewhere to be beaten or drugged and then rolled. I don’t know if hiding it would work, but I figured that it was wiser to crotch than not to crotch.
The motel was in a lot just behind the Waffle House. On the way, she kept leaning into me, claiming that she had some hip problem or something and could I help her walk to her room? I thought she might be trying to pickpocket me and mentally high-fived myself on the wallet maneuver. I realize now that this was some attempt at seduction that I didn’t pick up on.
The room was a disaster. A crumpled version of the same motel design we’ve all seen a hundred times. Except the wall art was different… blander, if that’s possible. Clothes were strewn about in various states of decomposition. Obviously they had been bought, worn, thrown in a corner and then reworn, once the initial smell had gone away, but not cleaned.
 The counter space, on the dresser by the TV, was a perfect mosaic of her mind. It was covered in brown transparent pill bottles, empty, half empty, and various states in-between. The pills, the centerpiece, were very important, but still only thrown together in a confused jumble, accented with little bits and pieces of accoutrements which adorned her habit: several blank prescription pads, receipts (scattered about) from a couple of dozen different pharmacies, shredded candy bar wrappers, and dropped handfuls of loose change.
The beds, twin doubles, stank of long term body odor, with a hint of alcohol or grease or something equally unsavory, yet they were still neatly made and tucked in. The carpet was sprinkled with ash and a random assortment of dirt. The wastepaper baskets were filled with fast food wrappers, empty cigarette packs (Winston Menthol Lights of all things), and plastic bottle caps, but no bottles.
The bathroom was sparse and had everything you’d expect, except for a warm half empty 2 liter of Coke in the sink. I had expected a large smattering of cheap cosmetics, but it was completely bare of that. I found out later that she kept it all in a huge “handbag”- a very misleading word; the damn thing was as wide as her torso. I suspected that she kept everything in there in case she had to make a quick exit, then she could grab everything in one swipe. All of the bathroom towels were balled up and thrown in a corner, dry and dirty, while all of the toiletries -soaps, toilet paper, and shampoo- remained capped, wrapped, and untouched. The “do not disturb” sign must’ve been hanging on the knob for weeks.
I plopped into a padded chair and lit a couple of smokes. She took one, puffed a few times, while avoiding eye contact, picked up a half full water bottle, took a few swigs (of what I assume was water), and  haphazardly wandered about the room, mumbling to herself and moving items about.
“Why don’t you sit down and relax?” I said. 
She complied, eyes down, suddenly shy around me, and started talking again. About problems, about fears, about hopes and dreams for the future, about religion, about medical and dental emergencies, about medication, about vague people from the past, about how life was just completely and utterly unfair. All hers. I didn’t get a word in edgewise.
Four hours later she exhausted herself and wandered into the bathroom, stating that she hated wearing clothes and that she had a medical condition (of course) which made it painful for her to do so. She emerged in an oversized T-shirt, sans pants or panties and laid down on the bed. At her insistence, I crawled on top of her, positioning myself upright on the small of her back. She bade me to ball up my fists and sort of kneaded the flesh on her back, hard. She had me work in this manner all down her body, while she groaned in pleasure.
Then, grinning, she wiggled out from under me and latched onto my face, sending the full stale stench of her hair up my nostrils. I started back sharply and put a hand to my nose to block the funk. Her lower lip trembled and she bent over, hands covering her face, crying and talking about how she was no good.
“That’s enough of that.”
 I took her elbow and lead her into the bathroom. She stripped off her single garment and got in the shower. When taking off my own clothes however, she became frightened and tensed up to panic. I calmed her down with a low soothing tone and slow deliberate movements, and left my black jockey shorts on. It's bizarre I know. She had no problem being naked all the time, but everyone else had better keep their clothes on. I never got a clear answer as to why she preferred things like this, I assumed it was from some sort of abuse.
There was a bit of embarrassment when I started undoing my pants. My wallet fell out. “What’s that?” she said and I realized that it must’ve looked like I had shoved something down there to make my penis look bigger. I mumbled a vague explanation and put the wallet in my shoe. She had been mumbling all night, now it was my turn.
I placed her in front of me in the tub, facing the shower head, and turned it on full force. She tried to squirm for a few minutes, but I kept a firm hand on her left shoulder and told her to stay put.  I cracked open the dusty bars of soap and little shampoo bottles, and went to work scrubbing off the layers of dried sweat and grime- a very determined and time consuming task. The soles of her feet were the most difficult, as she had to balance on one foot while placing a hand on my back. The entire time she whined about her medical conditions, which now apparently had morphed into her not being able to stand for long periods (hence her profession, I guess).

“You’ll survive.”
It took half an hour to get her body clean, then I moved onto the real difficult part of the process, her hair. This was something else altogether. It was black and shoulder length, besides being stiff, ratty, and gnarled. I had to soften it up a lot before I began lathering, otherwise I was afraid it might break off. When the water hit it, a thick, slightly yellow oil rolled off her scalp and down her back, which was … let’s say unexpected. I squeezed the complimentary shampoo bottle over her head and was afraid it wouldn’t be enough, but after 15 minutes of lathering, I got it into shape or a reasonable facsimile thereof. The smell was gone at any rate.
We got out. I tossed aT-shirt at her and told her to get into bed. She did so, but very nervously, unsure of my intentions. I toweled myself down and squeezed out the jockey shorts  in the sink. In the other room I heard some rattling from a pill bottle and when I emerged she was feeling fine, with a wide droopy  smile on her face. We cuddled up and watched late night crap TV, before passing out.
A perfect first date.

Part II of A Fine Romance is coming soon