I think I have a pretty good relationship with Conor. If you don’t count the volume of strangers I have sex with on a regular basis. Besides that, we are doing pretty well.

We have a lot in common, including sharing the same goals. We enjoy each other’s company. We have the same political beliefs (liberal, but we usually vote for Greens) and religious beliefs (none for the moment), and only superficially different taste in décor and food. I’d live surrounded by mid-century modern office furniture, while Conor could easily move into a London Members’ Only club with green leather chesterfields and brass ashtrays. I’ve never liked Italian food and always enjoy Greek. Conor prefers pork to gyros.

We’re also attracted to each other, which is getting more and more important by the day as I feel my looks slipping away. Now 25, I start to notice that I need to stick to my diet a little more strictly and there are lines when was there were none before. I can feel myself getting older. But around Conor it doesn’t matter so much. We want each other on a different level that goes beyond the physical container.

And love. I think we love each other a lot. I love him a lot, I know for sure.

I love the times we walk around Rosedale and pick out our “future house.” Or cycling down Bloor, side by side, angering every motorist. I love when he quotes Irish poetry, like Patrick Kavanagh, which he only knows because the Jesuits made him memorize and recite it in school. I love when I reassure him that he does in fact love the cats.

When we were first together in Ireland, he’d invite me out to meet his friends. Every time we met them at the bar, he’d abandon them within 30 minutes, find a dark corner to sit next to me. Once, watching the 2008 Six Nations at a bar in Donnybrook, I got up to get a round. When I sat back down, he pulled me close.

“I looked up at the bar and thought, ‘Oh, there’s a pretty girl,’ and then I looked harder and saw it was you.”

He’s definitely the only person I ever really want to have sex with. Not that I’m ever forced to have sex with anyone else in the sense that I have no agency, and it’s not even that I don’t enjoy sex with the clients.

I have no idea how any of this happened. I don’t know why I have such a good relationship. I don’t know what I did to deserve how happy he makes me. I just know that I wake up in the morning and want to make him smile. I have absolutely no advice on what it takes to make a relationship work. I fell ass-backwards into a sort-of monogamy. A relationship that works for the most part.

My parents separated when I was fourteen. The divorce was so bitter that I was seventeen before they stopped shrieking at each other long enough to seal (or unseal) the deal as the case may be. When the court printed the certificate of divorce, my father took it to a shop and had it framed. My mother took the house and had it sold.

So it’s safe to say that my opinion of marriage was darkly colored from an early age. It seemed expensive to get into and expensive to get out of. The period in between those parts didn’t seem so joyful either.

I may have already said that my clients split 70/30 single to married. Once in a blue moon, I’ll get the poor sap that’s going through a break-up. They call, thinking it will take their mind off of the deep despair their girlfriends have left them in. I see in their eyes, though, that they want it over as soon as it starts. They’ve suddenly realized that they want to be alone for the evening. They almost never fly the flag. I almost feel sorry for them, but that would probably only make them feel worse.

I find my married clients fascinating, though. I imagine it’s difficult to hide hobbying from someone you share finances with. It must be a delicate dance indeed, siphoning off a few hundred here, opening a new credit card there, all to get laid.

The obvious question would be: Why don’t you tell your wife you want more sex? Wouldn’t that be easier? Isn’t it, in fact, what you promised you’d do, at one point, in front of all of your friends and family? Couldn’t the whole rigmarole be avoided with just a little honesty and communication?

Then I realize that for so many reasons, a little honesty and communication would swiftly put me and everyone like me out of business.

I got the call to see Stanley on a Saturday night. It was a call to a house, which is always odd. Not many people under the age of sixty own oases in Toronto. The residences of sub-sexagenarians are usually condos or apartments. Not many clients are spry enough to take advantage of the agency’s talents and boast homeownership. It means he must be doing something right. Seeing a house call come up, I was chuffed to say the least. He’d probably have wine.

I rode in the car with Krista. Krista has the most gorgeous hair I’ve ever seen. It’s long and curly and blonde, like Keri Russell in that Bon Jovi video. Krista’s a bit bigger, curvier than me in all of the right places. Krista is beautiful. I love Krista. Maybe not the brightest girl, Krista, but very sweet nonetheless.

The driver mentioned we were going to a house.

“A home owner in Toronto?” Krista chirped, “That’s a millionaire!”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that someone with a million-dollar mortgage is most definitely not a millionaire. He’s pretty much the opposite of a millionaire.

Stanley’s house was easily a million-dollar house, however. It was clear that it had been remodeled to have a sleek, modern exterior. It had a two-car garage (an anomaly for Toronto houses) under a steep driveway below the front door. Stanley wasn’t loaded yet, but he will be.

A plain, chubby man answered after the third ring. The driver and Krista waved goodbye from Oriole Parkway and sped off to get Krista to her regular, a retired police officer in Richmond Hill. I introduced myself to Stanley with a polite handshake and Parisian kisses the way I greet all of my clients. Stanley seemed more receptive to it than average. His vibe indicated he was some kind of rich European.

“I’m Stanley,” he said, with a slant of German or maybe Austrian.

I noticed that Stanley had kept his wedding ring on. Usually, the small gold bangle is hidden in a shaving kit or in the drawers of a bedside table. I really don’t think they care about what I think. I think they’re ashamed, and want to separate their wives from all of these deeds as much as possible.

Now I have said that I would love to live in a mid-century modern oasis. I could move into a Design Within Reach depot or Roger Sterling’s office. Stanley, apparently, felt the same way and had furnished the lofty house with every iconic ‘60s piece imaginable. I should have been impressed, but all of it at once was pretty tacky and horrible. No balance.

Sure enough, Stanley pulled two wine glasses from the cupboard and uncorked the Bordeaux. He wasn’t the type to maul me as I set foot in the door. He wanted to take things slow and I admired it. Nothing irks me more than a man not enjoying himself.

I asked him what he did and he told me he was a project manager for a big company in IT Security. This may be a good career path. The one common career I hear from a lot of my clients is IT security. It seems to take a toll on one’s waistline, but fills the wallet sufficiently for hookers galore.

Monochromatic pastoral scenes of Stanley hung on the wall. In his arms were two blonde, laughing children. Sometimes their smiles gaped and giggled. They had that youthful joy that burns off like fumes of alcohol. And there was Linda.

Her name was everywhere in the house. On the pink set of golf clubs in the closet. On the monogrammed luggage in the spare room I glanced at as I passed. In some of the gorgeous professional photos she held the children. When she didn’t have her arms around them, I could see her in their eyes and faces. She was everywhere. Linda, wearing the same wedding ring on the same wedding ring finger as Stanley.

Stanley’s prowess as a lover in no way matched the richness of his life. He was slow, sweaty, and for the most part, not up for the challenge of a young warm woman. I could only exercise my skills so much as I lay on his rotund belly. I knew the hour was drawing to a close, so I propped myself on all fours and hoped he would connect the dots. I looked back at him and swung my head to face front once he was close enough.

It was the worst thing I could have done.

I was facing his bedside table. Linda stared back at me from a silver frame, the same black and white professional style as the other photos with the children. It looked like she was being photographed for the dust jacket of a very serious novel. There was no smile on her face, or anything I knew to be a smile. She just stared, her look getting more and more accusatory each time I lurched forward towards her.

The act, mercifully came to an end and I couldn’t have been in the shower faster. When I came out, Stanley was already dressed. He wasn’t going to shower, and I noticed some of my makeup smeared on the sheets. I had no idea where this woman was or when she would be back. I figured it must be soon, as there was no attempt to steal a few extra minutes when I headed toward the door.

The driver was waiting outside and I hopped in and handed him the agency’s take. I turned around and watched the pairs of headlights behind us. I may have seen one pair pull into the driveway as we sped off but I couldn’t be sure.

We’re all baffled when otherwise smart men, like Stanley, do incredibly stupid things, when they listen to their dicks. But there’s no rational way to think of it. Stanley didn’t think with the same consciousness that got him through his Master’s in computer security, nor was he using the facilities of the rational man who negotiated a mortgage or helped with homework. There is something deep and primal within these men that overrides all logic and common sense.

I didn’t understand it when I started escorting and I still don’t understand it now. Men for all their predictability remain a great mystery to me. A mystery, like Linda’s expression in the picture.