Sunday, March 2, 2008

I Was Forever One of the Johns Now

I had sex with a prostitute once, when I was in my mid-twenties.

I came about as close to going crazy that year as I have so far. (Knock on wood). I was single and living alone, being stressed beyond all previous experience by a job. (It amazes me now to think of letting an employer drive me to this state.) Though I wasn't consciously tracking it, I had also been going up a steady ramp of commercial sex trade, from porn to phone sex to strippers.

I grew up in a small town, and I was pretty unworldly. I don't remember how, probably through some movie, I realized that you could actually find escorts in the telephone book. I went to look and sure enough. For a couple weeks, every so often I would look at those listings. But I didn't think I would actually do it.

One day, I went to the movie theater alone--the way I did most things those days. The movie I saw was "Angels and Insects." Throughout that strange, messed-up story of class, repression, and incest, I felt like a bubble of hot blood was swelling in my head and chest. I was also plagued by hypochondria during this period. In the end of the movie, two of the main characters escape their damaged, repressed situation together. I knew that there wasn't any escape in the cards for me.

When I got home, I put myself into the sort of unthinking trance I do when I want to do something I don't think I should and don't want to think about it and dialed a number selected based on an unremembered criteria. I hadn't even thought about money, I was relatively poor, and the amount cited (a couple hundred) surprised me. I said I didn't have it on hand and didn't know if I could get it, thinking that might be the end of it, but she said she would call back in half an hour and see. It must have been a slow day. I walked to a nearby convenience store (I had no car) and took out the money plus an fifty extra because I figured I ought to, as a cash advance on a credit card. I went home and told myself she probably wouldn't call. But she did.

I was very excited, the kind of rush I used to get going into the adult store (or, when I was a kid, shoplifting), but in the time it took for her to arrive the feeling decayed and I felt like I'd made a mistake. But the doorbell rang and I figured: in for a penny, in for a pound.

I think she said her name was Laurie, but I'm not sure. She was pretty, buxom, and slender, though she had her hair gelled to the point of being crunchy, which made touching it sort of unpleasant. I almost forgot what I was about for a minute, until she told me I couldn't kiss her. Oh, right. I fumbled over some stupid line I thought would protect me from a potential police sting (some over-thought variation of "You're not a cop, are you?") that only made her nervous, though she got over it. Foreplay felt like a stupid charade, but I went through the motions, for my own sake, not hers.

When we moved into the bedroom, I was suddenly embarrassed by the fact that I slept on a mattress on the floor--I was just a couple years out of college. I lost my erection while she tried to get a condom on, but she managed to get me back up with oral. The oral was the best part of the experience, even with a condom. She was very skillful.

The sex was really average. When she started to moan. I felt like telling her not to bother, but it seemed like it would be rude to do so. Orgasm was a little flicker, quickly dissipated to nothing. But the pressure in my head went away.

She asked me about what I thought afterwards. I didn't really know what to say. (I said something but I don't remember what.) She asked me if I was expecting her to be prettier, and I said she was very pretty. She said: Some guys expect us to look like models. If I looked like a model would I be doing this? Then she seemed sort of embarrassed, like she'd let the cat out of the bag that she didn't really want to have sex with me. No worries, sister. I knew that going in. She asked if she could have my belt. It was strange. It wasn't really a remarkable belt at all, just black leather with a steel buckle. It was probably worth twelve bucks. I told her it was a gift from my brother (true), otherwise it would have been no problem. I walked her out to her car, and she hugged me before she got in. I wondered about that. Maybe she was trying to leave a good impression for potential repeat business, or maybe she was grateful that I'd showered beforehand and didn't try to stick it up her ass. She said to call her any time.

I sat in the dark listening to records afterwards, smoking and thinking about how I had joined this dirty club, and I couldn't take it back. I was forever one of the Johns now. I felt like I had changed something about who I was--and not in a good way--more so than, say, when I lost my virginity. I worried about the money, too. I really couldn't afford it.

Then again, for months afterwards I would find myself thinking that I would do it again, only this time I wouldn't be such a nice guy. I would really take advantage of the situation. I went through a similar escalation with phone sex, like the first time I asked an operator to role-play anal, which at the time was very exciting. But I never made another call, and I've never slept with another prostitute. I regret it now, though I don't think or worry about it anymore. I don't judge sex workers or in general the people who employ them, but it isn't what I want sex to be in my life. I don't think the experience added anything of value to my existence. I have told very few people about it. My brother, and a couple of friends, and the woman who is now my wife, before we started dating, because I knew I wanted to date her, and I figured it was better off being out there. I got appreciably saner, and I stopped calling phone sex, though I do sometimes look at dirty pictures on the internet.