n elite British boarding school that costs your parents £40,00 a year is too often posh in name only.
The one I attended pledged to produce “respectable ladies,” though I met fewer ladies-in-waiting than bullies eager to pounce on anyone different or eccentric. I was both.
It’s an old story. Boys use fists while girls use sarcasm and mockery. These hurtful memories matter because in deciding to become an escort I apparently opened the door to adult bullying.
I learned all too swiftly that it takes very little to push adults into reverting to their schoolyard selves. I’ve been humiliated by ex-boyfriends and friends. I’ve been called a disgrace, though the language has been far less diplomatic.
Who knows, maybe the school hypocrisy was a backhanded way of preparing me for grownup meanness — particularly since my job vexes social conventions.
On bad days I think of American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, who in her youth was a nightclub dancer, a prostitute, and a madam. She famously read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration, only then earning the respect she so richly deserved decades before. In a typical bit of travesty, her sex worker past was reworked to suit a more heroic identity in which her prostitution reflected child abuse. No mention was made of financial necessity, let alone choice.
“I’ve learned,” Angelou once said, applying insight that clearly came from having been around all kinds, “that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
She also said, “Nothing will work unless you do,” so I work hard, staying focused on financial independence and my dream goal of buying the family farm.
I own the uncomfortable truths that come with my choices, though I’m disgusted by the almost casual cruelty to which I’m exposed all too often.
I’m a Christian and an idealist. I believe that our highest aim should be to love those around us. At a cellular level, I have a fondness for underdogs. Exclusion for any reason hurts me. It’s who I am.
Who I am is also tied to an overbearing yet aloof mother, and a father with deep vulnerabilities. Family problems have made me fear low bank balances.
Therapists who revel in itemizing inner demons find me enormously interesting, and profitable. So yes, I come to you damaged.
But alongside that damage, maybe because of it, comes a sense of the intrepid, of defiance. I see my work as beautiful. It excludes no one. Which makes me proud.
What’s wrong with bringing someone pleasure, not just sexual pleasure? What’s wrong with putting a rainbow in someone else’s cloud?
Moralists have a ready reply: that intimate pleasure was created free of price tags. To the sanctimonious, money is about power and leverage, not “real” feelings or intimacy.
Any emotion (dare I say affection) I might induce is downed by social decorum that disdains any connection between intimacy and commerce — as if sacrosanct unions weren’t a lot, or a little, about just that. This is not rocket science, nor is the idea of accumulating money to get what you secretly crave, or think you do.
Yet we’re the ones who made this massive marketplace our home. We made a world in which most people slave to make ends meet while a one percent lives in another world (one I happen to like; no princess was ever poor).
Doing all you can to make your dreams come true is something noble, unless you’re a criminal or an escort (and escorts rank well below pop culture-revered gangsters).
Why? Gangsters can challenge authority or get revenge. Escorts are just dirty, greedy girls, unless they’re Julia Roberts.
An escort is a counterfeit or a mercenary, or both. They sell fake news.
This is rather funny since everyone knows there’s no such thing as a straight line in the male-female dance. And it’s a game that’s often clumsy, messy, confusing, if not just as often lovely. Impulse rules.
And impulse often hinges on what you can spend. Money can overturn relationships, turn families against their own, and wreck marriages.
As for partitioning women between angelic wives on one side and dirty whores on the other, it doesn’t stand up. The angel can turn into a dirty whore as fast as a sweetheart can turn into a too-long-to-spell-out male epithet.
Grief over losing a job usually has as much to do with lost income as love of the job. Escorts look to rich men because they can afford to make the ordinary extraordinary.
This, not make-believe poshness, is what’s under the world’s bed.
So yes, my companionship comes at a price.
What cash has no control over is how I feel with a client I genuinely like, and who genuinely likes me. That’s good ice cream, and both sides know it.
Maya insisted remembering was all about thinking back to strong feelings.
I couldn’t stop the meanness at school and I can’t stop it now.
Perhaps I might recommend that when you think about what I (and many others) do for a living, you set aside judgment, and the crudeness it depends on, since there’s enough of that going around without adding to the bonfire.