Working Girl: Intimacy is Different for Everyone

Just a Regular Working Girl: Moralistic Values Gleaned from My Time in Chicago’s Seedy Underworld

Moral 70: Intimacy is personal.

Kiss by DavidMartynHunt

Kiss by David Martyn Hunt at Flickr Commons

“Do you ever fall in love with your clients?” I asked my boss Caroline.

She looked at me over the rim of her Starbuck’s cup and blinked. “Are you kidding?”

I shrugged, trying not to feel stupid. Caroline could always make me feel stupid–as though I should have understood the ins and outs of the professional escort industry, despite the fact that she was the seasoned prostitute, and I was the naïve Catholic girl who worked as her assistant.

“Well,” I said. “It’s possible, isn’t it?”

“What makes you say that?” she laughed. “Pretty Woman?”

“Um. I guess. And there was this interview I read with an escort who said she fell in love with her clients all the time.”

“Yeah,” Caroline said, “that woman was full of sh*t. She’s a whore, Leslie. How long have you worked for me now? Four months? Five? Surely you’ve caught on that whores are good at putting on shows. And this one had the attention of a news network.”

I felt stupid again and sipped my tea, pretending it wasn’t too hot and that my lips didn’t feel like they were blistering every time I slurped up a little liquid.

Caroline sighed. “I see where you’re coming from though. I do love Pretty Woman. It’s like a Cinderella story for prostitutes. But that’s all it is. A fairy tale. I did fall in love with one of my clients really early on in my career, though.”

“Really?” I said. I had no idea whether Caroline was putting on a show for me now, but decided to let her perform, regardless.

“Yeah, before I knew what was what. I had this idea that being an escort was just a filler job for me, you know? Like I would only be doing it for so long before the real thing came along. A job in broadcasting, a guy. Whatever ‘the real thing’ meant; I don’t even know. So there was this one guy, and he was good looking, rich, and he really paid attention to me. He came to me regularly, and said I was his favorite part of the week. Sometimes I’d give him freebies. I really didn’t get it back then! My god.”

“So,” I said. “You fell for him?”

“Yeah,” Caroline said. “But of course, he never left his wife for me. And he never set me up in a private penthouse and kept me as his personal mistress. So that was the last time I believed in the fairy tale. What about you?” Caroline asked. “Have you ever been in love?”

“No,” I said.

“What!” Caroline said. “No way!”

“Way,” I said. “I haven’t even really dated anyone.”

“Just find a guy who’s a good kisser and date him.”

“I don’t really like kissing,” I said.

“What!” Caroline said.

I shrugged. “It just kind of . . . this mashing together. It’s like all pressure and wetness, and you can taste what the other person ate last, and maybe I’m just doing it wrong. I’ve never liked it.”

Caroline sighed. “You know what? I hear you. It’s like that a lot of the time for me too. But you? You just haven’t kissed the right guy yet! How many guys have you kissed?”

“One,” I admitted.

“Oh my god, you are such a prude,” said Caroline.

“I think he was gay,” I said.

“Don’t talk about things you don’t know about,” said Caroline.


Moral 69: Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it . . . two or three times.


“Kissing isn’t so bad,” Caroline said. “It just takes some getting used to.”

“Do you kiss on the mouth?” I asked. I’d worked for Caroline long enough to know it was a real thing, that some prostitutes didn’t kiss on the mouth.

Caroline wasn’t one of them.

“I do,” she said. “But I didn’t used to. I used to think it was this intimate thing that I should reserve for some special guy. But eventually, I realized that was bullsh*t. It was like I was waiting for something. Or saying some part of me was too good for being an escort. And you can’t have that attitude and make it for very long in this business. I tell all my girls that. If you think you’re above this, or if you’re a little disgusted by the whole thing, that’s gonna come through. The guy’s gonna sense that. Anyway, after awhile, the intimacy just stopped being such a big deal. Intimacy is all just an idea, anyway. It’s the value you put on an action, not the action itself.”

That was certainly true. For some people, long soulful conversations are intimate. For others, kissing or sex is intimacy. Others have to cry with someone, or just be held all night long. It’s not easy to find what intimacy means for you–what makes you feel up close and personal. But it’s important to try, because that’s how you find real connection with other people. It’s how you stop feeling alone in the world.


Moral 70: Intimacy is personal.


Looking back, I suspect that I was one of the most intimate relationships in Caroline’s life at that time. This was because I was with her almost all day, almost every day. I cooked her dinner and made extra so she’d have leftovers on the weekend, read the newspaper to her and joked about the stories to make her laugh, consoled her when clients called her an old used-up whore, held the keys to her safe and the numbers to her bank accounts, and stroked her hair when she cried because her mom was sick. Sex and kissing didn’t matter to her. Other things did.

She didn’t return any of this. I didn’t trust her with my own secrets. I didn’t even trust her with my address. I say that I was one of her intimate relationships at that time, because I knew about all her other relationships. But I don’t think Caroline realized I was an intimate relationship. I don’t think she really knew what intimacy was all about. Maybe she didn’t believe it was a real thing.

Another reason I believe I was an intimate relationship for her: When I eventually quit working for her, I went home to find 75 messages on my answering machine, running in a cycle from “I can’t believe you did this to me,” to “You were right, and I’m sorry,” to “Please, please come back to me.” It was like a break up for her.


Moral 71: Whether you believe in love or not, your heart will always reach for connection. Even if the other person doesn’t feel it.


“By the way,” I said. “I hate Pretty Woman.”


“Because one time I walked in on my parents having sex when it was on TV. Now I can’t watch it without thinking of . . . that.”

Caroline burst into laughter.


Moral 72: Whatever intimacy looks like for you, close the door during it. PLEASE.

Quick—What’s the second most profitable criminal industry in the US? First guess, then click.
L. Marrick is a historical fantasy writer and freelance copywriter. She waxes poetic about swords and the Renaissance Faire at her author blog. She looks all professional-like at her copywriting site. She eats too much chocolate and still doesn’t believe downward dog is supposed to be a restful yoga pose. You can connect with her at either of her websites, and follow her on Twitter @LMarrick.

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