My shrinkologist and I have some odd conversations. George and I got on the subject today, I have no idea how, of an old neighbor of mine. She was an interesting woman who I grew to like quite a bit over a period of about two years. When I first moved to Miami I lived in less-than-luxurious circumstances. My neighbor was a whore. Now I say that advisedly. We met fairly often as I was going to work just as her work day ended. We would converse in passing in the hall. At some point we began meeting at a corner bagel shop and having breakfast together quite regularly. Of course, I eventually asked. "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" or the equivalent. Actually, I used the word prostitute in connection with her and was put in my place rather soundly. She was not a prostitute she was a whore. While the distinction is a bit fuzzy in my mind to this day it was crystal clear to her. She did indeed take the money, but she was in the business for the sex and not for the money.
OK. Fine by me.
I suppose this is one of those "Hooker With a Heart of Gold" stories. Cynthia was actually quite a nice, ordinary, more-or-less-middle-class woman with all the typical attitudes. It is just that instead of being assistant manager of the local K-mart she was a, well, let's call it a "sex worker". Cynthia admitted to no broken home, wide-eyed waifs left behind, no abusive ex-husband, nor any of the traditional causes that would drive one to the life of a sex worker. She discovered that working as a cocktail waitress wasted a lot of time when she could simply sit at the bar and pick up a lot more men, that having been her purpose in working as a cocktail waitress in the first place. For the sake of efficiency, more or less, she became a whore. She liked the life. She called herself a "party girl" back in '81 before the phrase was an MTV epithet, and a "night owl". She enjoyed sleeping the day away and working at night. She wasn't worried about disease (everyone was still pooh-poohing aids as something straight people needn't fear) or crime. She and a few friends paid a local guy to muscle up anyone who gave them a hard time or tried to rip them off. She didn't have a pimp and none of the women who worked near her did. I was told years later by a friend of mine in law enforcement that she probably lied about that, but I wonder, I detected no false notes, and I don't think she really had any reason to lie to me.
Cynthia and I never had any relationship other than Coffee & doughnuts (though she offered and I was tempted) so I often wondered just what she thought of me. I got a small inkling the second year I knew her. That February I got her a Valentine's Day Card which tickled her. That May (for my birthday) she bought me a rather expensive pocket watch. It was an elegant Hamilton timepiece completely out of character with my persona, at least I thought so. Did she perceive me differently or just buy an inappropriate gift? Yes, she bought it. It was in the box with all the packing and she offered the receipt if I wanted to return it.
I moved away to a better neighborhood, got married, and started adopting kids almost immediately. I told her, and meant it, that I would stay in touch. It just didn't happen. I called her number once, six months later, and she never returned the call. I never called again.