Credit: Copyright © 2009 by David Henry Sterry and R. J. Martin Jr. from Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money, and Sex. Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint.
I WAS A BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR AN EIGHTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD GRANDMOTHER
"David, I've got a fantastic job for you, Friday night, this is a two-hundred-dollar job!" Mr. Hartley's straight-shooter baritone reaches down my throat all the way to my seventeen-year-old balls and squeezes.
"Wow," I say in what I hope is a loverstudguy voice, but which I suspect smacks of eunuch, "that's great, excellent, thanks, I uh--"
"David," Mr. Hartley sounds like a benevolent dictator in a three-piece suit, cheerful as the day is long, but a master alpha, "this is a very special job. Very special. I'm really counting on you, David. This is a very important client. And if you do this job well, I can absolutely guarantee there are going to be a lot of exciting opportunities on the horizon for you. You understand me, David? Do we understand each other?"
I have no idea what he's talking about so I say:
"Sure, absolutely, I got it--"
"This is a unique opportunity for you, David. I want you to be completely prepared. It's a rather unusual job. But I think it really matches your skill set."
My mind races. Will there be barnyard animals involved? Ritual sacriﬁce? Unmentionable ﬂuids? I see myself in a slideshow of perversion. What will you do for money? Where do you draw your line? How much of your life are you willing to sell for two hundred dollars? And remember, this is 1974 money, so that's like one thousand dollars now.
"David, this client, who I must emphasize is extremely important, has decided that she wants to treat her friend to a very special birthday gift. And that birthday gift is you. So get ready to put on your birthday suit." Mr. Hartley laughs at his own joke. He has a machine gun of a laugh, rat-a-tat-tat. "I kid, of course. Seriously, though, you are being given as a birthday present to a wonderful, charming, sophisticated, mature woman."
Mature. Oh, I see. Mature.
"David, it's our policy at the Hollywood Employment Agency to give our clients all the information they need to succeed. We believe that preparation is essential to success. And for this job, it's very important that you understand that the client will be celebrating her eighty-second birthday."
"It's very important to us, David, that our people are comfortable performing the jobs we ask them to do. I want to make sure you're comfortable with this. Are you comfortable with this, David?"
No. No. No. I'm not comfortable with this job. I don't honestly think I can fuck an eighty-two-year-old. That's what I say in my seventeen-year-old man-child idiot head. Out loud I say, "Sure, absolutely, I'm on it."
"You're on it," Mr. Hartley's Uzi of a laugh rattles around in my skull. "That is droll, David, very droll. That's exactly why I thought of you when this job came in. I have every conﬁdence that you won't let me... down." Bam bam bam, Mr. Hartley laughs fast and staccato. "I kid of course. David, I want you to call me as soon as this job is done. Do you understand? Do we understand each other?"
"Absolutely, for sure, y--"
Mr. Hartley gives me the 411 and then I disconnect.
Immediately my shattered brain sees this horrifying picture: An ancient naked wrinkled saggy droopy granny is spread-eagled in front of me, and my poor placid ﬂaccid penis is a lifeless piece of useless meat; I have to give the money back; I am shamed, spiraling down humiliated, a brutal failure rejected by Mr. Hartley and Sunny, drummed out of the business, shunned by all my Chicken peers, the only family I know at this point that accepts me for what I am, my paycheck, my refuge, my people.
This is what I'm picturing when I knock on the door at the ultra fancy-ass swank swish hotel. It smells like old money in the hall. I realize suddenly that I'm having trouble breathing. Heart racehorsing pounding against my breastplate. A sticky clammy sweaty nervy jumpy freaky tweaky moisture oozes out of many of my pores. Under my arms are wet, I can feel it now.
The door opens. There she is. In a styley Chanel-type suit, pretty in pink. She deﬁnitely has a helmet hairdo, but it's not severe-- it's well done if you like that kind of thing. She's got a huge honking diamond ring. She's got diamonds around her neck, but they're small, not gaudy; they look good. She has on pink shoes the same color pink as her outﬁt. She's small, but she looks totally trim for an eighty-two-year-old. Has wrinkles on her face, but they're not grotesque. She has makeup on, but it's not grotesque. But the best thing about her is when she smiles. It's a really really nice smile. A smile that welcomes you in. She seems nice. Sweet. Smart. Fun. Not at all what I imagined. Deep relief, heavy sigh. I hope I'm doing this good when I'm eighty-two years old, that's what I think.