Nursing significant hangovers and moderately painful sunburns, we spent the day after Canada Day curled up on Sophie’s bed, huddled around the laptop. We were drinking Powerade and eating all dressed potato chips, our usual post festivities recovery meal. Head pounding and stomach queasy, I was getting my introduction into an industry that would end up fascinating me for years to come.
by Sarah Brooke
“This website is the best of all of them, I get the most bookings from it. You’ll want to check the inbox here frequently throughout the day as there are some people that will want to book an appointment through the website and not bother calling. I warn you that there are a lot of time wasting messages so just be polite but firm. No cyber sex, no dirty talk, tell them the basics of what I offer and give them the cell phone number. In the beginning I wasted so many hours talking to people who were just trying to get a big discount or were just trying to get me to talk dirty to them and get them off. If they seem like they are fucking around, just move on. Don’t answer blocked calls and whenever you get a booking you will need their full name and phone number even when they are booking through an email. Google their name and number and if nothing comes up, cancel the booking. I need to know who these guys are or I do not meet with them. Check 411 and Facebook, anything you can think of to prove that they are who they say they are. Run their emails too, you’d be amazed what you can find out about people just by doing that. If you ever have a client who you find out has been giving girls bad reviews on the review sites, DO NOT set up an appointment.”
“Ok, got it, but why? Are you just afraid of someone leaving you a bad review?” The pounding in my head is starting to pick up pace so I fish through my purse until I find my trusty bottle of Ibuprofen.
“No, not at all. It’s just that most of the time if they are posting bad reviews about girls they are either outright lying about the encounter or they are just total assholes. If someone has given a few bad reviews but has also given lots of good reviews, that’s fine, no problem, but when most of their reviews are bad you can just forget them. I’d rather have only a few appointments a week than have twenty appointments with creeps. If you get a bad feeling about someone, trust your gut. If you aren’t sure, call me and we can decide together.”
“Okay. It might take me a little while but I’ll get the hang of it.”
“Sarah, I am not worried at all. You are a very perceptive person and I know that I can trust you with this. I know you’ll do your best to keep me safe. I love you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this. Once I get back to school in the fall I’m going to be swamped and I will really need you to take care of this entirely. For now, I’m hoping you can help me a few days a week. More if you are up for it. I don’t want to interfere with your real job so if it gets too much just let me know.”
“Oh my real job? Waitressing at the Jive Turkey? I don’t think you have to worry about interfering with that. Hell, I could probably bring the phone with me and take calls while waiting tables. ‘Oh hold on Ma’am, I’ll finish taking your order in one moment, this gentleman on the phone wants to plow my best friend and I have to arrange that for them.’”
She laughs so hard that she snorts. “I definitely think you should do that. Maybe have the customers write down the john’s name and address too.”
“I don’t see what could possibly go wrong.” I say sarcastically. “Well, if working for you gets me so busy that I am too tired or occupied to work at the Jive, that would not be the worst thing in the world. My aching feet would thank you.”
“Okay, here is a document with the addresses of all of the sites I use to advertise as well as the usernames and passwords. I put the two best sites at the top. There are six in total but the first two are high traffic. The other four are a bit slower. I usually only renew the ads on the slower sites every few days as opposed to the other two sites which I update daily. Sometimes I’ll even delete and repost my ad a few times a day so that I come up first in the searches.”
We are scrolling through other escorts ads, pointing out outfits and shoes that we like when the phone rings. We both stare at it for a minute, not relishing the idea of trying to speak to anyone over our pounding headaches. Because I was the new girl I was given the phone and a thumbs up.
“Hey is this Carmen?”
“It is! Hello. And what is your name?”
“Nice to meet you Glen. May I have your last name?”
“Thanks, Glen. And how are you on this lovely day?” After the words are out of my mouth I realize I haven’t been outside yet and I have no idea if it is, in fact, a lovely day. I hop off the bed and walk to the window, pulling aside the curtains to see that it is completely grey and overcast outside. I grimace and hope he doesn’t think I’m an idiot. Maybe he’ll think I was being sarcastic.
“Oh it could be better, it could be as nice as it was yesterday. I guess we should just be thankful it didn’t rain on Canada Day like it does most years.”
“Exactly. I spent the day outside and got a nice little sunburn going now.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Carmen. Are you still feeling well enough for a date?”
I glance over at Sophie’s bright red shoulders and push my finger into the reddest part. She moves back in pain but doesn’t hit me so I’m pretty sure she is in good enough shape for a date.
“Absolutely. As long as you don’t mind that I’m a bright shade of red.”
“Oh you have nothing to worry about. I’ll be gentle. I’ll even bring a bottle of aloe vera to soothe your burn.” I could hear him inhaling what I assume was a cigarette and made a mental note to tell her about it. She hates smokers.
“What time, sweetheart? And where should I meet you?” He gives me a time and address and I type it into the word document on the computer. “Alright well I’m excited to meet you. I’ll start getting ready now and I’ll meet you there for 2pm. Text me or call if anything comes up.” We hang up and Sophie immediately pokes me on my sunburn.
“Payback.” She grabs the aloe vera and rubs it into my reddest spots. “That was really good. Also I forgot to mention to make sure to never discuss anything sexual over the phone. If they ask you about services just tell them to refer to the ad. They’re paying for companionship. Never refer to anything more happening just in case it’s a narc. ”
“Sounds good. Oh and I’m pretty sure he’s a smoker, he was taking a drag off of something when we were talking.”
“Oh god, well I hope the smell washes off of him in the shower. I’m not sure that I can stomach the smell of stale cigarette today. I better go find the Pepto Bismal, I have a feeling I might need it.”
She hops in the shower and I’m left with six different websites open in front of me. I can see that there are a few unread messages here and there and I work on replying to them. One is someone flat out asking for a discounted rate for first timers. I reply to him that unfortunately the rates are firm but thanks anyways. Another is a request for an appointment tomorrow at 1pm. A third email is a very explicit description of all the things he wants to do to Carmen’s tight little asshole. I don’t even bother replying to that one, I just delete it and block the sender.
A message pops up and it’s from a gentleman who wants to book an appointment for tomorrow at 1pm. He names a hotel not far from here and I send a message back confirming that she is available then, leaving Carmen’s cell phone number for him to contact her if anything changes. I ask for his number and full name. When I google his phone number his full name comes up. I put his email address into facebook and it brings up a profile with his full name and our city. That was easy. I document all this information and save it before closing the laptop and lying down while I wait for Sophie.
About thirty minutes later, Sophie comes in and slams the door, startling me awake. Her long blonde hair has been blow dried and straightened. Her makeup is minimal and she’s wearing a knee length floral print dress.
“Would you do my makeup? I always end up looking like a drag queen when I try to put on anything but mascara and eyeliner.”
“Of course.” I rub my eyes and sit up, making space for her on the bed. Makeup has always been a passion of mine. It’s tradition for me to do our makeup before going out anywhere. Sophie is so beautiful she doesn’t really need any but when I get her face contoured and give her seductive smoky eyes, she looks like she should be famous.
When I’m done I hand her a mirror. She takes a good look at her makeup and smiles. “You’re so good at this. You may have just got me a return customer.”
“I think that’s all up to you, Soph.” I toss the makeup bag in my purse. “You have an appointment tomorrow at 1pm. I checked him out, he is who he says he is and he’s also pretty cute. I checked your schedule and you have an appointment at 4pm. That’s not cutting it too close right?”
“No, that’s perfect. If it’s only an hour appointment, I only need about 30 minutes between them to shower.”
“One appointment today and two tomorrow. That’s basically your rent paid, right?”
“Yeah pretty much. I have a regular tomorrow at 8pm too. I see him every Tuesday or Thursday, depending on when his wife goes out to the movies with her sister.”
“Does it bother you? Being with married men, I mean?” As much as I love Sophie and want to support her in her career, I feel a huge amount of pity for his wife. I imagine myself in her shoes with an unfaithful husband running around with hookers while I go out with my sister just to get a break from the screaming kids.
“No Sarah, it doesn’t. It did at the beginning but I quickly realized that these men would be cheating regardless. It’s not like I tempted them into it, they came to me looking for an escort, intending to cheat. I’m not sure if I’m just rationalizing it to feel less guilty about it but I think it’s better for them to be coming to a professional than to be out at bars hitting on women. Things get messy that way. He falls in love with a 20 year old college student who pretends to love him back because he has a six figure salary and all of his hair. The family is destroyed, kids grow up with a part time Dad, Mom is bitter until the day she dies. That will never happen with me. He’s paying me for my time so instead of having to spend countless hours and countless dollars trying to schmooze pretty coeds he can just come for a safe and fun time with me. He ends up being at home more because he’s not in a bar in the next town over telling his wife he’s working late while he is actually trying to pick up girls half his age.”
“I hadn’t thought of it that way… You’re probably right. What can you do, anyways? Can’t exactly weed out the married men. Even if they don’t admit they are married they could be, right?”
“Exactly. Some of them are very open about it and some of my married regulars like talking to me about the problems in their relationship. Some of them outright lie and say they are single when I can see the tan lines on their ring finger where their wedding band usually is. I prefer the ones who tell the truth, it makes me respect them a bit more. Some of them feel really guilty about it but for the most part they have spent years in sexless marriages and they’re just excited to actually be getting some. A lot of them spend years trying to work on the marriage but in the end the wife just doesn’t want it anymore.”
“Or the men don’t want it anymore but blame it on the wife.”
“That’s probably the case some of the time but with the ones that end up opening up to me about it the story is pretty much the same. A few years into the marriage, usually after popping out a few kids, the wives just stop being interested in it. It seems more like a chore than anything else. The sentiment is the same, they love their wives but they did not sign up for a sexless existence. One of my regulars is the sweetest guy. He told me about all the marriage counseling and therapy they had been to over the years, how he had kept faithful to her for two decades but just couldn’t take it anymore. He was depressed and feeling absolutely worthless. He’s been seeing escorts for the past few years and he says his marriage is better than it ever was. She’s still not interested in sex but they’re much happier now. When you think of it it’s very unfair to expect someone who loves sex to be stuck not having it for the rest of their lives. Humans are sexual creatures. We need the intimacy and release. It makes us feel alive, makes us feel more human. Imagine marrying someone and then a few years later finding out that their interest in sex has completely vanished. You love them but you also value your own happiness. What do you do? It’s a complicated subject. There are no clear answers, it’s all a grey area. Don’t ever worry about me being bothered by any of this. I’m offering a service and I’m glad I can offer it. I enjoy my job and I really, really enjoy the money. The bonus is that it offers me insight into the human condition. I find it fascinating in a lot of ways. I know it might take you awhile to get comfortable with this but I know you will.” She rubs my hand and smiles at me. “I want you to take the cell phone for today in case we get any more bookings. I’ll text you from my cell when I’m at Glen’s hotel. You just text him from the Carmen phone and say that I’m here and ask him what room he is in. I’ll text you on your personal number once I’m done and you can come pick me up.”
“You think you might get more bookings for today? Even with most of the population of the city battling wicked hangovers?”
“You never know. There are times when I don’t have any bookings for days and then six in the same day.”
“You’ve had SIX bookings in a day before!?” I can’t hide the surprise from my voice and she laughs at my shock.
“Yes Sarah, I’ve actually had more than that in a day but that’s not typical and I don’t like to over book myself like that. Try not to book me for more than 3 or 4 a day and if you get more bookings than that, contact me first before confirming. It all depends on how I’m feeling and who the dates are with.”
“Well you’re a hard working girl, that can’t be denied. You’ll have to check in with me now after every appointment or I’ll worry. Even when I’m not picking you up, you have to check in with me okay? If your appointments run long or they pay for another hour send me a text so I don’t have to track you down and make sure your organs aren’t being harvested for the black market.”
“You have my word.” She grabs a tiny black sequined purse from her closet and throws her cell phone, lipstick and a pack of condoms into it. “Alright let’s get going. You can drive me to the appointment but I need to get a manicure afterwards so unless you have suddenly taken an interest in getting your nails done and want to come with me, I’ll just take a cab home. I’ll text you once I’m done the appointment to confirm that I’m still in possession of all of my vital organs.”
Laughing, we head out of the apartment and lock the door behind us.
The story continues: