How’d We End Up on the Street?

There are several “tracks” in LA where the whores congregate.  Your best bet is Sunset Blvd between Vermont and Western, or you could go farther west, between La Brea and Highland, where the quality spikes a bit.  (Or you could go downtown to West 7th between Alvarado and Fig, but this is more the crack ho/junky brigade.)  Shopping for whores is like surfing for porn in that you always feel as though you’re settling; but once you choose, it’s an all-in experience.  Hookers don’t employ much of a marketing strategy.  There may be some suggestiveness in the way they dress, but it’s fairly obvious who the working girls are.  They use their eyes.

She begins clocking you as you approach.  Then as you drive past there’s a momentary glare incisive enough to penetrate your soul.  She knows this thing about you.  Then she rubbernecks to see if you’ve hit your directional.  Each track is clearly selected for its grid-like layout and short blocks: many side streets accessing the main drag.  Cruising past the same hooker repeatedly gets embarrassing, though, because the eyes morph from seductive orbs into beams of judgment.  Whores hate a dithering john.

Once she’s in the car, how wisely you’ve chosen is not only more apparent, it’s a nonissue.  The decision has been made, and unless negotiations break down, you’ll see the date through.  She’ll be visibly flawed up close, but if you’re mentally suited for this to begin with, you won’t chafe at her facial crags or gnarly teeth or weathered hands.  She’s a streetwalker, after all, and since you’ve no need to impress anyone, you’ll lower your bar considerably.  (Indeed, being in the company of prostitutes was, for me, a valuable experience in that I learned how flexible I could be.  When it’s just you and another person whom you’re essentially renting and will never see again, a whole host of ambiguities gain clarity—most notably, the role that reputation plays in everyday life.)

Now the negotiations begin.  She’ll ask what you want.  You’ll say oral, anal, straight sex—whatever your peccadillo, and if you’re wise you’ll make an offer (forty for head?)  Even if she haggles, she’s in no position to be firm and she knows it.  If you’re relatively young and nonthreatening-looking, she’ll be so stoked to have been chosen that she’ll agree to nearly anything.

Sex with a whore is fairly mechanical.  She sucks your cock with mindless ease, the way a ballerina pirouettes, the way a pizza dude spins dough.  It’s just muscle memory, but fun to watch.  The bobbing of the head, the stroking of the shaft, the cupping of the balls—all designed for maximum efficiency.  Her aim is to get you off insofar as you’ll be done, she can get back out there, and perhaps you’ll use her again.

So, why would you hire a prostitute if you don’t need to?  There’s the rock star cliché: you’re not paying for the sex, you’re paying for her to leave, and though there’s truth to that, I felt differently.  I wanted to know about her.  I’d offer drinks and lines of coke (I never met a whore whose eyes didn’t bug at the sight of powder cocaine) and I’d ask questions.  What happened to you?  How’d you end up on the street?

They were never tight-lipped, and there was always a striking level of detachment and candor to the storytelling.  Invariably there was neglect, abuse, addiction, delusion.  I recall one who had an unusually short haircut—a boy’s regular with a side part—so I inquired about it.  Her former pimp had shaved her head, she said, to punish her.  That was after he raped her.  Now she had a new pimp whom she’d met on the track.  (Pimps are forever luring girls away from one another, a practice known as “knocking.”)  I asked her what she liked about the new pimp.

“He loves me,” she said.

“How do you know?”

“He tells me all the time.”


Blog on Blogs

I don’t plan using this blog as a journal—a kind of tired, self-referential rambling corn maze of incoherency.  That may happen, of course, but I don’t plan on it.

I want to challenge myself to actually populate this thing, because it’d be so easy not to.  You just don’t do it; how easy is that?  And I even have an iron-clad excuse for not typing here: who the hell will be reading it?  Think about it.  You have so many options in terms of how to spend your time, the majority of which require little or no reading at all (an abbreviated, truncated text page—yea, im gon bang her 2nite lol c u late bitch!—is about all most of us can handle nowadays), so why on earth would anyone read my blog?  The simple answer: they won’t.  So I can be as self-indulgent as I please (insert played-out emoticon):

Buy you see, I have this complex.  I can’t just type some drivel and let it be.  I’m currently shopping my manuscript, Swirls in the Negative Space, for submission, which simply means that I’m happy enough with it.  That I believe it’s ready to be looked at by publishing peeps.  But the text still haunts me, cries out to me in the middle of the night.  Get up.  There are still too many italicsAnd what is your obsession with em dashes anywayNot everything is a holy shit—I must emphasize, reiterate, show-the-reader-how-goddamn-clever-I-am—sort of moment.  And worse than all the adverbs you’re so EERILY reluctant to part with, there are still a few dialogue attributions, believe it or not.  That scene at the end with your brother, you actually have him saying something “cheekily.”  You can’t send me out like this.  Get the fuck up now and fix all this shit before—god-willing!—someone with a 212 area code actually requests a full and you embarrass the crap out of both of us.

So that’s what I’m dealing with.

But back to my point.  I plan on populating this blog not with spew, but with tidy little stories.  I can’t promise you that they’ll all be great, or that you’ll be any smarter for having read them (but at least you will have changed—having started out the way you were, only to have arrived at some other, dumber, place).  Hopefully the posts will be, to some degree, substantive.

You want the drug stuff, don’t you?  Debauchery?  Fine.  I have so many stories from those days, some of which may work well as stand-alone pieces.  (Once a very attractive woman asked me to blow coke up her butt.  Well, truthfully I introduced the possibility that it could be done, and knowing the type of gal she was, I suppose I may’ve been subtly suggesting the idea.  Anyway, I could fit the straw where it needed to go, but I couldn’t fit the damn anecdote into the manuscript.  It just felt…gratuitous.)

You want romance debacles?  I’ve got those in droves.  I’m forty, pretty outgoing, and not the least attractive guy in the world.  I’ve had many, many dating relationships, all wholesale failures.  It may be the only perfect record I’ve got.

I’ve been in the can.  The joint.  The hoosegow.  The pokey.  The clink.  The slammer.  All 125 pounds of white boy fury.  And it sucked, big time.  But I could probably mine it for some laughs.

Also, I currently work in a high volume restaurant, in the kitchen.  You don’t even need a high school diploma to do my job and, believe it or not, I’m grateful to have it.  I mean, the work is what you’d call “menial” and the money stinks, but at least I can sleep in every day.  And I don’t have to dress up.  Or act with any sort of decorum whatsoever.  I’m the weird old guy in the kitchen: the one whose life has obviously gone completely awry.  But there’s plenty of fodder there.  If you enjoyed that first post (“Shitter’s Full”), then there’s more where that came from.

If you want it.

Assuming there’s even a you to begin with.  Which, as we’ve already established, there isn’t.

Shitter’s Full (First Post)

It’s a not-so-busy shift at the restaurant and I’m killing time, prepping vegetables needlessly.  My coworker, Paul, stands beside me, struggling as usual with his disposable gloves.  “I swear they’re making these things smaller,” he says.  Paul is like a lot of dumb crackers I met in jail.  Everything’s a conspiracy.  He turns toward me.  “You know, the guy who invented the toilet was named Shitter.”

I swear to God he said this.

In these situations, I’m the Terminator.  Well, not really, but my brain goes through the same systematic run-down of possible reactions—beginning always with what my id desires most.  So first on the list was stabbing Paul in the eye.  The knife was in my hand, it seemed so serendipitous.  I quickly ruled it out though.  Too extreme, not to mention illegal, unethical, and probably a violation of every major health code (despite the fact that I was wearing my own set of conspiracy gloves).  Next on the list was to stab him in the spleen, but I had to admit, I didn’t know where that was, exactly.

Some background on this.  Paul fancies himself a purveyor of quirky and esoteric information, sort of like a Cliff Clavin for dummies.  But whereas Clavin was generally accurate, albeit boring, Paul is just the opposite.  Everything he says is dipped in horseshit, but he never fails to command attention.  Some other Paul-isms:

“The Germans invented Fanta because they didn’t like Coca Cola.”  (I looked it up.  It had something to do with a syrup embargo during the war, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than a nation of people unanimously hating the world’s most popular soft drink enough to invent a new, orange one.  Crouse!  Vaht is dis shit?!  Mach Schnell Fanta!)

“Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day is brothers with Tim Armstrong from Rancid.”  (This is just categorically false.)

“The closest living relative to the T Rex is the chicken.”  (This is apparently true, but not in a way that anyone whose best friend at age 9 wasn’t an Apple II-e would find interesting let alone understand.  So unless you have glasses thicker than Sarah Palin, don’t bother with this one.)

“Little kids hate vegetables because they have too many taste buds.”  (This has more to do with a gene called TAS2R38 and the two variants thereof, yawn.)

I verged on reacting to Paul’s toilet proclamation with the usual: an unwavering argument.

Some background on this.  I work in a kitchen.  It’s loud, hot, cramped and chaotic most of the time, and there are a lot of different personalities all clashing like so many ants clamoring for the same small hole.  So we argue.  A lot.  We argue over things that can easily be proved or disproved, like whether or not there was ever a person named Shitter who did anything.  We argue our opinions, like Fast and Furious.  Nick believes the franchise has jumped the shark.  Chris thinks otherwise.

Nick: “They should’ve stopped at three.”

Chris: “Nah, they should keep making them as long as there are numbers.”

Nick: “No they shouldn’t”

Chris: “Yeah they should.”

Nick:” “No they shouldn’t”

Chris: “Yeah they should.”

It’s sort of like watching two people try to scale a wall smeared with Wharton’s jelly.  But it passes the time.  Which is crucial.

I wanted to explain to Paul that it wasn’t true, that it couldn’t be.  That the flushing toilet as we know it wasn’t invented all in one day, that it was likely a protracted work-in-progress with many men involved, one of whom may have been called Hopper.  Or even Crapper.  Those I’ll allow as possibilities.  But Shitter?

But then I realized: what would be the point?  Even if he’s baiting me, so what?  If Paul wants to believe that Shitter invented the can, who am I to disabuse him?  What would I get out of it?  It would be just another example of argument for its own sake.  Of my having to be right.  Of my ego cutting the line.

So I said, “Did you know that in Australia the toilets flush the opposite way?”


“Yeah.  Something to do with the hemispheres.”