Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Favorite Prostitutes

"...is the first city where I can say I have my favorite prostitutes." is what I said to my date for the day as we were floating in the ocean. We were both outsiders to the city who had met on Tinder and found a day to explore together. Conversation naturally turned to prostitution.

But it's true, I had my favorite prostitutes because in the historic center prostitution was pretty hard to avoid, and had been for 4 centuries. It was practically UNESCO heritage listed. And walking through the laneways I quite naturally had done my evaluations and picked my favorites.

Which is probably true of everyone whether they are a John or not, as I wasn't. But my favorites generally worked a corner near my friends Art Studio and also some of the more interesting artisans. They had good spirits and I would catch them goofing off on what as far as I could tell, was a quite slow and boring job.

And in Italian they, like every prostitute one passes, greet you with 'ciao' and try to strike up a conversation and put a deal together. I would respond with what I can only hope was a polite ciao while maintaining the momentum to carry me on and passed their corner. But I liked seeing those working girls, and I enjoyed the exchanges.

 Then one day as I was taking this laneway, a guy came to offer me hashish. I didn't understand why he was stopping me at first. Nothing in his tone was threatening, but I hadn't picked up the words so I said 'parli inglese?' and he said 'hashish. smoke?'

But it was within earshot of one of my favorites, and it fundamentally changed our interactions.

As I passed the drug vendor she spoke to me and said 'let's go.'

And suddenly I found myself having to decline sex with one of my favorite prostitutes.

This is an anecdote about shame, but not the shame you might assume. Because I'm a cold calling market research dude. My 'day job' has mostly been calling up strangers and asking them if they got time for a survey.

And here's a secret from the inside, it is actually far worse to make a polite excuse to not do the survey than it is to just say no. Largely because it is often passive aggressive, but mostly because it wastes time having to preserve your self image that you aren't one of those people that hangs up the phone on kids cold calling.

And here I was, making excuses.

Afterwards, when I had the time and space to think rationally, I know nothing about prostitution anywhere let alone my adoptive home for 3 months. For me to say yes, would have been to accept legal risks, financial risks as well as sexual health risks that were completely unquantified. So, I mean of course you don't say yes to sex to a stranger on the street in the middle of the day.

But something about me, when somebody is offering you sexual intercourse in exchange for money it seems so much more personal. I can't remember with exact fidelity but the exchange which didn't last long went something like this:

'let's go'
'I'm sorry.'
'let's go, come on.'
'I have other plans.'
'plans change. We can go to my house it's not far.'
'I'm sorry.'
'Don't worry about the money it is not so much.'
'that's okay.'
'Come on, I will make you feel good.'
'I'm sure that's true, but...'

Then I just walked away, but lamely waived good bye and probably said ciao or someshit.

There was a time, back when I was corporate where as a reward for participating in the companies equivalent to Toyota's continuous improvement program we got sent to Sydney for a couple of days. And one night we were walking Kings Cross, which as a red light district is actually a lot more confronting than I would have expected. At one point spruikers invited us to come in and see a sex show at some establishment or possibly to check out the girls. And it wasn't the best customer service attitude of front line staff I'd ever come across and they seemed pissed off when we were giving an emphatic no.

But after that exchange I thought, no, they are right. We were a bunch of voyeurs walking through the street where people exchange money for sex. We are crowding up the shops and wasting people's time.

After walking away from my favorite prostitutes I felt similar, except this city the red light district is kind of just on top of not the red light district. Space is far more shared. So I really wasn't cruising past shyly toying with the idea of sleeping one of these women. Or was I?

My personality is such, that I couldn't sleep with a prostitute if they weren't attracted to me, even if that sounds like it defeats the purpose. I like to think that my favorite prostitutes liked me too.

The thing is, if you take body language for example, you have to discount context. You shouldn't for example think the girl who serves you at McDonalds, is into you. Because their job is to smile and engage and greet you enthusiastically and make eye contact. So you discount it, and surely with the skin trade, that applies even more so.

Except my city of Italy, who were the clientele? In my call center work, it's really cool to talk to a really cool 70 year old, but it's extra nice to talk to a young lady my age who is nice. Know what I'm saying? Compared to the other potential John's, maybe that would be an easy shift of work for them.

I don't know, and to be honest, to me it sounds too much like an act of economic consumption as an act of charity. What I really think about, is that people like me who are really in the relationship or bust mindset, probably should be the clients of prostitutes where the non-attachment of casual sex are unambiguous.

I'm just embarrassed that I didn't have the conviction to just say no. And the city was such that I'd see my favorite prostitutes wandering other streets when they were off duty, and to all extents just women being women.

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