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9:38 a.m. - 2022-08-12
las meretrices

Had a conversation with a friend who read the previous entry and I feel compelled to clarify: the two women we met at the club that night were not, to my knowledge, prostitutes. Though that wouldn't be an unreasonable inference, based on one snapshot from one evening...young ladies in lingerie seated on the laps of older gents, one a sunburned tourist, alcohol on the table. And as sincere a compliment as I intended “top shelf” to be, I'm also aware that it is, essentially, commodifying. But no one was out to meet a soul-mate that night, y'know? (That would actually happen the following year, in the sober light of day, at a lunch counter on the same island...) That night was just about our reptile brains, high heels and mirror balls.

And even if the two of them did turn tricks to make the rent back in Cancun--I wouldn't “judge”. Once upon a time in (another part of) Mexico, I lay down with a prostitute. My 18-year-old self ended up heading across the border to Nuevo Laredo's infamous “Boystown” in an 80's Chevy Suburban w/my uncle and a few other oilfield-types. I wasn't told where we were going that night--it was a surprise “bonus” for a job I'd just finished (and a handy excuse for that particular gang of rowdies to take a time-honored Texas field trip). The experience was equal parts surreal, titillating and depressing...I don't regret it.

Some 10 years later, a prostitute would move in to my apartment. She was from a rough part of Glasgow, but was working in London when she'd met (at the door of his hotel room) an American actor, whose personal assistant at the time happened to be my girlfriend. He was smitten and after a presumably wild weekend flew her back to LA. But they both had volatile personalities, and while he would go on to channel his into depicting one of cable TV's most iconic anti-heroes, she would go on to say “fuck my visa, I like it out here” and crash on the sofa at her new American friends' place for a few months while she figured it all out. And despite whatever lascivious conclusions we've been conditioned to draw re: a randy young lad (and his bisexual girlfriend) living w/a buxom hooker, reality will inevitably tsk-tsk such notions and keep shit real: “Could you get a spare set of house keys cut?”, “I'm stuck in traffic, do you mind walking the dog?”, “Who gets to use the toilet first in the morning?”, et cetera. So yeah I rarely thought about her vocation, but when I did I had no problem with it. (Her drinking, on the other hand...)

And I've had several friends since who have, at one point or another, done it for money. Whether in the form of selective arrangements to provide a leg-up out of poverty while they earned their university degree, tricks to support a lifestyle (i.e. drug habit) that demanded more cash than other work options afforded, or as an extension of the legal sex work they already enjoyed doing. I'm still in touch with most of these gals and see them regularly, smiling with their pets and kids on facebook (including a dominatrix who used to let me crash at her place, before she found God and married a [profession redacted] and had [quantity redacted] children!).

Anyway, the main reason I don't judge in this instance is because I'm a dude, and will never experience the weight of the moral onus foisted upon a woman. And I'm sure there's a Rubicon of self-worth crossed with the decision to “sell it” that I can never appreciate--the same self-worth that moralists have long-conspired to sabotage in women irrespective of circumstance. (What I will say, as a feminist-ally, is that any moralistic shaming of the individual ultimately hurts the real victims of prostitution: trafficked immigrants, minors, addicts. Because it inhibits our theocracy-in-practice's inclination to legally regulate the sex trade and protect society's most vulnerable...)

I've long suspected though, that behind this steady drone of moral condemnation lies a tacit acknowledgment of prostitution's historic, inevitable ubiquity. A quiet, insufficient apology that manifests culturally; most notably, perhaps, in the character-trope of the “hooker with a heart of gold”...

(Apologies for writing such a downer addendum to what I'd intended as a light-hearted anecdote about a sandwich, but it bothers me that I may have impugned the reputations of those two women. No matter how unlikely it is that any one of my four readers knows them personally, I feel oddly protective and responsible...I am after all the one who put pen-to-paper and evoked their ghosts in the context of my own dissolute frivolity.

And by “ghosts” I mean “memories”, of course. Just a figure of one murdered them that night. Or any other night I'm sure. Definitely not us.)



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