11212017Headline:

Working Girl: Escorts Need Girl Friends Too

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

Moral #9: Escorts Need Girlfriends Too

 

"You've got my back, right?""Absolutely!" Image by Fing'rs at Flickr Commons

“You’ve got my back, right?”
“Absolutely!”
Image by Fing’rs at Flickr Commons

 

My boss Caroline was an escort. Most of the time, she was fun to be around. She was funny, open minded, spontaneous, and protective of me—the little blonde girl who’d gone to Catholic school until college.

But Caroline was also unpredictable. I was never sure what her real motives were.

She was protective of me . . . unless she was trying to recruit me into the business. She trusted me implicitly . . . until she suspected me of stealing from her and nearly strip searched me in her apartment.

I was her personal assistant. This meant cooking, cleaning, shopping, and running errands. It meant feeding her cats, cleaning up after the cats, finding the cats when they got lost on the streets of Chicago (this happened a lot), using her credit card, and answering her phone.

It also meant simply spending time with her. Every day, I picked up her morning Starbucks and a copy of the New York Times, then sat on the edge of her bed and read articles to her while she did her hair or squeezed herself into various slutty outfits to critique herself in the mirror.

It didn’t take me long to realize she didn’t really care what she had me do all day. She mostly just wanted someone around.

 

Moral #9: Escorts need girlfriends, too.

 

“Read Bush’s comments about Qusay and Uday Hussein’s death again,” she said one day, turning to check out her hot pink short shorts. “Do these make my ass look flabby?”

“No,” I said, trying to find the right spot in the article again.

“You didn’t even look!” Caroline said. “Does it look like a 45-year-old ass?” Caroline was no spring chicken in the Chicago escort scene. She was very self-conscious about this.

I checked out her ass thoroughly, thoughtfully. “It looks like an ass you’ve spent a lot of time and gym funds on,” I said.

She laughed. “You’re an ass!” she said. “Read that part of the article again.”

 

Moral #10: Almost everyone finds it comforting when someone reads aloud to them.

 

She didn’t see any clients that day, so she didn’t send me out shopping. Instead, she put on less slutty regular person clothes, and we went to visit one of her girls.

Caroline, ever conscious of her age and diminishing prospects as a career escort, had a troop of younger women working under her. “I send my girls clients,” she explained as we hailed a cab. “They don’t find their own. I only send them men I have a standing relationship with. Guys I know, who are safe, and who always pay. And then I take half the payment.”

That sounded very reasonable—even admirable—to me. If you were going to work in a dangerous and illegal profession where a “bad client” meant you could get arrested, beaten, raped, or killed, ban together and have each other’s backs! That’s what friends are for!

But half the cut sounded like a lot.

“It’s worth it to my girls to know they’re looked after,” Caroline said. “We don’t deal with pimps. Ever. Today we’re going to collect a payment from Helen.”*

Helen was the most beautiful statuesque black woman I had ever seen in real life. She looked like she’d stepped out of a Calvin Klein ad. Dark chocolate skin, long slender legs, high cheekbones, and a waist like a Barbie. She wore a smart little beige skirt suit.

She also could not stop cleaning. When she opened the door, the vacuum stood behind her, roaring with passion for creating clean living environments. Three bottles of Windex in various colors sat out in plain sight. I was familiar with these because Caroline had the same kinds.

I didn’t know Windex came in an array of scents until I started working with prostitutes.

“Helen, we’ve talked about this,” Caroline said, her hands on her hips. “If I hear another guy say he had to wait while you finished cleaning, I’m taking a bigger cut of the pay.”

“It only happened once or twice!” Helen insisted. “They’re always very patient! They don’t get mad!”

“That’s because they know you’re going to have sex with them after you turn off the vacuum!” said Caroline. I suppressed a laugh.

“I think some of them like it,” Helen said. “I think it makes me look like June Cleaver.”

That laugh became harder to suppress. Helen looked nothing like June Cleaver.

Caroline sighed, giving up the argument for the moment. “Oh, this is my assistant, Leslie. You want her to clean while we talk?”

“No,” Helen said. “It has to be done a certain way.”

 

Moral #11: No matter how hard you scrub, some stains just won’t come out.

 

Caroline and Helen wound up sending me out for Thai food, and the three of us stood around Helen’s kitchen island, talking and eating noodles out of each other’s containers.

The conversation centered around cats. Caroline had three. Helen loved cats, but couldn’t stand the thought of them in her apartment. “Maybe if I had someone like you,” she said to me, “to keep the place smelling nice, then it would be different.”

“She is pretty wonderful,” Caroline said.

I felt grateful for the appreciation. Then I felt concerned that I felt grateful for appreciation from a pair of prostitutes. Then I decided I was being judgmental, and then I tried to stop thinking altogether.

This job seemed to call for that a lot.

On the cab ride back to her apartment, Caroline’s phone rang. She answered it, her tone svelte and sexy. When she hung up she was annoyed. “A new client. He wants an appointment today.”

“Are you going to see him?” I asked.

“I don’t know, he sounded kinda creepy. Pushy. That’s bad news. But I could really use that money . . . I’ll call him back in a little bit and send him to Helen.”

I was confused. Had I misunderstood something? “But . . . you said you only sent your girls clients you knew and trusted?”

“Yeah, well, that’s more like a best case scenario. I’m a whore. Do I look like a best case scenario to you? I’ll call Helen and tell her he’s okay. If you talk to her, don’t tell her I’ve never seen this guy before. Promise?”

This was wrong. So, so, so wrong. I couldn’t stop thinking this time.

“Promise!” Caroline demanded.

I didn’t want to promise to lie to someone in a way that might impact her safety. “I don’t think I’m ever going to see Helen again, anyway,” I said, then realized how creepy that sounded. I really hoped this guy wasn’t the kind of bad news that might hurt Helen.

For some reason and despite her obvious neurosis, I liked her. There was something fragile about her.

“You’re probably right,” Caroline said. “Anyway, if she finds out, I’ll know who she heard it from.”

I realized she was trying to manipulate my emotions again. She wasn’t entirely unsuccessful.

 

Moral #12: A person who experiences long-term success in a dangerous industry, is capable of dangerous things.

 

*Sometimes her name was Helen. Other times, she was Zara, or Raquel, or Sabrina. I can’t actually remember what her real name was. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I’m changing all the escorts’ real names for these articles. Oh god, I hope Helen wasn’t her real name…

***

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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