By the time I became a full-time escort, I though it prudent to invest in a pair of dark curtains for the bedroom window. At all late-morning hours, the sun rudely intruded while I tried to sleep the previous night away. Jerk.
In Toronto, summer heat and humidity can only be described as unseasonably unreasonable. The summer in Toronto is like walking around with the mighty scrotum of Orcus sitting on your face at all times. It is, as my late great grandmother would have said, “close.”
Most people, normal people, would buy an air conditioner, but we like to do things a little differently around the auld Bianca and Conor household. As the cats appeared to be melting into puddles looking at us accusatorily while they hid in shaded parts of the apartment, our ongoing resolve to get to Canadian Tire and actually buy an AC never quite got the follow through it deserved.
Oh well, we’ll sweat it out. It’s good for you. Sorry cats.
It was during one of these hot sweaty mornings that I, lids closed underneath my scarlet rhinestone bedazzled sleep mask, awoke to the sound of my phone ringing in my handbag.
To me it was a random 416 number. I hadn’t programmed it into my phone yet, but I could tell it was Archer, the keeper of my chance to rejoin the regular working world.
I have to confess that I have the worst superpower. I have the uncanny ability to sound as if I am a productive member of society in the middle of a day-long Martha Stewart-like agenda at the moment of, or indeed several moments before completely waking.
“Oh, hi! Archer! I’m so glad to hear from you!” We hadn’t spoke in six weeks, no less than one of which included a beach vacation in Varadero, where I obsessively checked my email and missed a call log waiting to hear from him. But I had him on the phone now, prepared for the worst—to hear that he had given my dream job (with my dream pay) away to some homunculus who could barely keep the drool in his mouth.
“Yeah, um. We’ve hired for the position we’ve brought you in for.”
Heart, next exit, stomach.
“Okay, well thanks, very much. It’s nice of you to get back to me.”
“But, um, are you still looking for anything?”
Heart, detour, throat.
Please Bianca, please be cool, please just this one time, “Oh well, you know… always looking.” My voice cracked. Good enough.
“We actually need someone to manage our editing team. A head editor. I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing it.”
MERCY FUCKING SAKES ALIVE.
There’s a word in my mouth. The word is “yes.” I’m gonna say it. Any minute now.
“Um, hello? Bianca? Are you there?”
“Hi Archer, I’m here. I would love to work with you. I would love it.”
Archer said the salary figure in my ear, 20% more than the last job. He’d meet me at the office in two weeks time.
And with very little ceremony, my career as an escort entered its twilight.
Oh sure. There are a few lifers. Career girls. The ones who can’t save. The ones who love it. The ones who can’t do anything else because the addiction to drugs or free time or easy money is better than anything else, and drugs and free time and easy money are all good things. These are all understandable addictions, for which I neither blame nor judge them. Those women know what makes them happy and have the balls to pursue it. Cheers to them, baby. Fucking Slainte, says I.
And yes, they sacrifice. Not all men are Conor. Not everyone could see someone they love through that. My family wouldn’t. That isn’t my conjecture or opinion; it’s a straight up fact. But, you know what? Everybody sacrifices all the time for everything. Professional-grade hookers just choose a different part of their lives to be unsatisfied with.
But that was Bianca. It wasn’t me.
Unceremoniously, I gave Adele two weeks’ notice by text.
“You were great to work with,” she sent back later that day, “I hope everything works out well for you. If it doesn’t you are always welcome back. Love Adele.”
Best boss ever.
I was sitting on the sofa waiting for Conor at 5:30 that night.
“I got a job!” I shrieked.
“That’s brilliant!” he was so excited.
I told him all about it. The job, the money, the people, the start date. I told him I quit escorting and he smiled.
“Did you get everything you wanted?”
I really did. Escorting wasn’t going to be my career. It was a way to get out of debt and into the black a little bit. Then it became a way to stay afloat between jobs. Now it was going to be a memory. Many years from now, I will be sitting on a chair or sofa somewhere, reading perhaps, or scribing new ideas, and I will recall that I was once a prostitute.
And the moment will pass and I’ll be back in my life.
The way I am back in my life now.
“I have to tell you something,” I turned serious. I could barely even meet his eyes, or else he would see the tears in mine. “I want to thank you. Not every man would do this. I know it was hard for you. You shouldn’t have had to be here while I was a prostitute. I felt so terrible.”
Once, on a trip to Ireland, Conor borrowed his brother’s Fiat and drove us out to the village where he grew up. He showed me his two-bedroom house where his parents raised him and his four brothers. He showed me the tiny post office and the only shop and the field where he learned to play rugby and the unpaved roads almost too narrow for cars to pass side by side.
When I was escorting, I thought about that village and Conor as a child growing up in it. He should have stayed and become an engineer and paved and widened those roads and met a nice Irish woman who would give him five sons.
He shouldn’t have met a Canadian prostitute and followed her to a big, loud, dirty city so she could have sex with other men for money. Nothing about that postcard village made him ready for this. But there he was, standing beside me the whole way.
“So, thank you, so much” I said.
He frowned. I’ve learned in the almost five years we’ve been together that the feelings of Irish men are a lot like bioluminescent sea creatures. I understand that they exist, but I’ve just never seen them up close.
“I’m getting more and surer about this,” he gestured to himself and then to me. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. And nothing should stand in the way of that. But sometimes things do get in the way. Money gets in the way. That debt could have held us back, for a long time. It was hard for me, but at the end of the day, I was sitting at home evenings playing Portal 2. You were the only one actually out there, doing it. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it was for you.”
Conor wears thick glasses. He’s had them forever and they’re slightly scratched and blurred. His brown eyes are so lovely. Right then, they filled with tears.
“So I,” he breathed, “I thank you. You did this. It’s over now, or soon anyway.”
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” I told him. “But you have to promise me something.” He nodded, “This is the most hypocritical thing I could say, but never see prostitutes.”
His eyebrows rose.
“I mean, see them, if you need something new, because I understand that. Needing variety and novelty is nothing to be ashamed of. If that’s how it is and we can make it work anyway, that’s enough. That’s great even. A lot of people can’t do that.”
“Then what is the problem?” he asked. I tried not to talk about being an escort but it came flooding out of me now.
“I don’t want you to see hookers because it would mean you are one of those sad guys. And you can’t be one of those guys. You can’t see a hooker because you are so bored and unhappy with me that you don’t see any other way out. If you are unhappy with me, you need to tell me first. And I will understand if you need someone new temporarily. But you can’t be that sad, you can’t be like them,” tears streamed down my face, “because that would break my heart.”
And we spent the rest of the night in each other’s arms.
The next two weeks were fairly uneventful. I figured it would be just my luck that any psychos would come out of the woodwork just as I was about to quit so I sort of held my breath every time I went out. But nothing weird happened. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual sad, uninterested guys. Those sad guys.
Finally, I signed on for my last day. It was a Wednesday. It was at a condo at the Soho. The guy’s name was nondescript, Phil.
Phil was an average, middle-aged douchebag still clinging to his 30s for dear life. His place at the Soho was only his pied-a-terre.
“I don’t have any mixer,” he offered. “Will you drink straight vodka.”
“Um, no thanks,” I said. I’m not in college anymore.
Phil invited me out on the balcony. I followed him but pressed my back against the door. It’s always a safety issue, even though he was on maybe the fourth or fifth floor. Like I said, all I needed on my last night is a psycho to push me onto Wellington from 100 meters up.
“Come on out!” Phil said, extending his hand, vodka in the other.
My heart was racing, “I’m good here.”
Phil paused, “Suit yourself.” Another pause and he turned, passing me, back into the suite, “Why do men see escorts?”
“Why do they do this? Celebrities, politicians, they all step out on their wives for escorts. They have so much to lose. Why bother?”
It was something I had thought about a lot.
“Well, first of all," I said, "I’ll assume we’re not talking about the guys who want to get caught. Guys who want out of their life but don’t really have the cojones to end it themselves. Then, I think there are the guys with the high libidos. They didn’t ask for it. They might be full-on sex addicts. I’ve met them. It’s ruining their lives but they can’t stop. It happens. And then you have the guys who are like any other guys. Why does any man perform a sex act? Sometimes they’re drunk, high, horny or bored or any combination of those. Why do they have sex with me? Probably because I’m young and attractive and men have always given me what I’ve wanted whether I asked or not. They’re faced with their own aging process and hate it.”
Maybe I was getting too personal now, but I kept on. “I think their brain wires cross and they believe that sleeping with a young woman somehow makes them younger by proxy, but it doesn’t. Actually, I don’t make anybody feel better in the long run. I think I make people feel worse. But because men attach so much to sex, so much of their identity, they think I’m going to wave my magic hooker wand and make their lives better. And when I don’t they get angry and sad and just feel worse. Eventually they forget that seeing escorts actually makes them feel bad and come back to us. That is one thing I know. They always come back.”
Phil didn’t say anything for a long time.
“Did you want to go upstairs?”
We went upstairs. Phil had erectile dysfunction. He tried to use ylang ylang oil as lube. I told him lipids break down latex and not to use it. Poor Phil.
And that was the way my escort career ended. Not with a bang but with a whimper.
So I guess I’m supposed to spout some reflective wisdom here. I don’t know how much I have, though. I started this journey knowing very little about men. I wouldn’t say I know less now, but I don’t think I know more.
The only people I think I could give insight to are the clients. And all I can say is this: we don’t love you. We barely like you. Seeing an escort doesn’t make you a bad guy, but it doesn’t make you good, either. I don’t feel bad about what I did. I would do it again if I had to. I know that. I’m sorry you’re all so sad.
I won’t tell you that money doesn’t buy happiness. Of course it can. There are many paths to finding your meaning in this world and you can only sleep with so many 20-year-olds before you realize you’re kidding yourself.
We’re moving to a house. The Toronto escort market is as abundant as ever. There’s a few in my building; I see them. I got out. I started my new job with Archer. I’m great at it. I cut off all my hair. I stopped waxing. I stay home at night and play Portal 2. When I cycle through the streets, over the stones and streetcar tracks, the silver veins of the city, I can feel the air on my skin and I enjoy my life. What I did, and how I did it and why I had to do it… all of those don’t matter.
Someday soon, I’ll be somebody’s wife. Maybe we’ll go back to Ireland. Maybe we won’t, maybe we’ll stay married and maybe we won’t. I hope we do. I love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone. I don’t know if I would have done this for anyone else. Love will get you through anything.