t home in the manor I’m glued to “Gone With the Wind.” Again.
It’s pure escapism, I know. My sessions with Scarlett O’Hara usually come after arguments with my mother. She’s a brilliant organizer who never quite learned how to express affection, not even to her own daughter. God forbid we should wear our heart on our sleeves.
After a few conversations with her I’m usually in tears.
Mother-daughter turmoil may not suit “Pretty Woman,” but writing has made me shamelessly candid. Even escort goddesses cry, or this one does. To steal from a 1990s movie title, “Reality Bites,” and it bites hard.
And that’s why I hand things over to Scarlett, who vexes Rhett Butler, which I’ve seen her do like a million times.
While Scarlett’s busy moping, I’m usually feeding Twitter half-dozen or thinking of ways to reply to the most recent volley of emails piling up in my escort account. There I learn what my mother won’t tell, that I’m beautiful, delightful, articulate, a joy to behold, witty, and desirable. I may like to think I’m all these lovely things but I know I’m not. Still, a polite courtesan replies to all admirers, all the more so if the fantasy she has generated is responsible for all this buzz.
I’ve come to believe that 80 percent of escort work is conducted in cyberspace, between replying to suitors (“Oh, how wonderful that you like Cezanne! So do I, especially…”), vetting their backgrounds (passport copy, please), and confirming their employment. The remaining 20 percent includes the encounter, assuming you get that far.
To get that far you need to borrow from every verbal and visual erotic genre and ensure it’s all stunningly gift-wrapped, like the lingerie on you. Mystique, like just about everything else on the planet, has its own set of rules. 20 percent remains a very low number, all but ensuring my lingerie has plenty of time to rest up.
Instead of dressing up, you’ll often find me trudging around in my Wellies, tracking mud into the kitchen (my mother sighs), or making a latte. In Italy recently, I ordered a latte and they brought me a glass of milk. Lesson learned. Note to self: add caffé if you expect coffee in your milk.
As for the emails, some can be quite extraordinary — even if you account for the male tendency to exaggerate. There’s the requisite spam, but most are notes from real men who’ve stumbled across my site, tumbled into love-at-first-click, and are now determined to make an impression. “I can imagine our first date,” muses one man, who then goes on to list his favorite artwork. I was an art history major, so I shoot back. If I don’t know, I pretend to: a goddess can know all, thanks to Wikipedia.
Other men claim they’re “joyfully” surprised to find someone so well-mannered, which immediately makes me think of me, the real me, Scarlett in her Wellies.
But it is nice to be admired, especially after dealing with maternal aloofness. And, on a more practical note, these emails mean that the money you need to freeze your eggs (not a Gucci-driven detail shared with Aphrodite’s suitors) may be on the way.
Of course dealing with these messages is emotionally draining; you’re the one responsible for creating the spell, so you’re amorally obliged to reply. Without an assistant, you’re the one who has to sort out names and preferences. Errors are unforgivable. Are you replying to Roger or Tariq? Was it Damon who mentioned his Caribbean yacht and a penchant for caviar, or was that Sam, who wants you to meet him in southern France while he takes a break from his stressful tech company in Texas? The same Sam who once got lost in rural Nigeria (negotiating for rare earth) only to find his way back to a local village thanks to a wandering giraffe.
Funny, you say. Not so funny if, in your confusion, you talk to Kevin about giraffes, when he’s the one who wanted to fly you to Sydney for a gala (“I’ll give you unlimited spending money to pick your outfits …”).
Even Vivien Leigh, my troubled Hollywood idol (and English import), might have found this confusing. She struggled anyway, with men, with herself, with social restrictions, with alcohol and pills. The girl born Vivien Mary Hartley was all but undone by her superstar alter ego.
My beloved Scarlett is in many ways a mess, and so am I, and maybe a little mad at times. But at least I don’t drink.
As I craft my responses I can’t but ask the question: how do you sell seduction when the enticing words you come up with all sound the same?
I suppose the only answer is putting your emotions aside and simply playing the game. In that sense, I should actually thank my mother. She drains my emotional side so extensively there’s little chance I’d ever fall for a client. My walls are up.
And that sharpens my commercial drive. I was in bed with a snoring client recently when I sent a text to my new best friend, Isabelle. “Help!” I said, foreseeing a sleepless night. “Think of the money,” she replied. Five words that all made sense.
Not a day passes that I don’t keep up with “my” men, and the “not yet” men, moving between looking forward to seeing them again and how much I’d like to meet them. I give them my best, and too often it works and they begin their email wooing. Only lately have I learned to better separate the wheat from the chaff.
Though it’s no sure thing.
I still remember the early client who promised the moon, only to tell me (dozens of messages later) he’d made it all up. Two bits stood out: “I want you to know that I never, ever intended in any way to hurt you – every single compliment I ever paid to you was genuine – you really did knock me side-wards…” and “I hope you do find true and lasting happiness – I just wish it could have been with me.”
To me, this irrational rapture reflects a built-in misunderstanding between self-made goddesses, mythical constructs coaxed from the web, and mortal men. Escorts are focused on making good money, and maybe slipping briefly into an elite world they’d otherwise never know. Men, many men at least, are obsessed with infatuation, mistaking impulsiveness for love. Contact with an escort is a sexy cure for loneliness that “perfect woman” websites and Twitter feeds (like mine) openly advertise as tenderly real.
The result is Russian roulette played out in minefields, one of which has explosives containing sex and money, the other lined with the grenades known as feelings, pride, and power — and all this played out between near-strangers, no less.
It’s a risky game, often exciting, and always (trust me) exhausting.
So, late at night, my Wellies secure and my tears wiped away, look for me (and not Aphrodite) nestled behind a desk on which sits a computer, a phone, scattered bits of scrawled notes, with “Gone With the Wind” streaming eternally in the background, the mess helping to keep me company as I unemotionally try to say a few nice words to the spellbound while talking business to the blunt, all the while comforted to by the thought that tomorrow is another day.