In my early twenties I worked various jobs at several chain hotels. I started as a bellman while I was still in college, moved up to the front desk, and then took over night audit duties when I accidentally caught the previous night auditor stealing. After a year I got offered an assistant manager position at a new inn my company was opening near Toledo.
I packed everything I owned into the trunk of a '64 Plymouth Valiant—an easy task since my possessions at the time consisted of half a dozen LP’s, a tenor saxophone, some patent leather boots with stacked wooden heels, and too many pairs of bell-bottom pants to claim without some embarrassment.
I moved into the bridal suite of the hotel. My boss figured there wouldn't be much call for it by paying guests since Toledo was not then, nor ever likely to be, a prime honeymoon destination.
From that point forward, my life became absorbed by work. Since I lived on the property, I was always available. I wouldn't say I was merely 'on-call' since I was already at work...all the time. Fortunately I was young and resilient and a little stupid, else the routine would have burned me out in short order. As it was I quickly developed a warped perspective on reality that was defined not just by the physical borders of my domain, but by the narrow limits of what is, for lack of better terminology, normal behavior at an interstate motor hotel. Besides my boss, who was himself more than a little warped, the bulk of my human contact consisted of business travelers, couples shacking up, barflies, conventioneers, and musicians in the bands that performed in the lounge. This is not a collection of humanity destined to keep one grounded in reality.
It is not surprising then that I did not find it unusual when my boss offered to procure me a prostitute. It wasn't meant to be a favor or a reward for a job well done or an inducement to sink to his level of personal depravity. It was to be, so to speak, a test drive. He was thinking about hiring her to help induce a banker to make a loan to our company. He thought I could give him an evaluation of her services before he committed to paying her to give the banker an ego boost. I guess he wanted to make sure she wouldn't be a disappointment.
I don't know how he thought this was going to help with the loan processing. Maybe his thinking was that if the banker had a near-girlfriend-experience he would want to come back on a regular basis and that, under those circumstances, making the loan would give him an excuse to do that. The banker was in North Carolina, so presumably he could get the whole sordid business of wining and dining the girl on his expense report while we would continue to pay her professional fees. The banker was not supposed to know that his romantic interlude was with a professional.
There was a particular young woman my boss had in mind. She had been recommended by a local business owner. I saw her when she came in to interview. That's right...interview. I swear, I could not make this stuff up.
She was about as un-hooker-like as you could imagine. She was tall—6' 2” in her bare feet, although she walked across the lobby in a pair of death-defying stilettos that put her head up in the rarefied atmosphere familiar to Sherpas. She was reed-thin and so angular that she might have been put together with an erector set, yet she moved with an incomprehensible fluid grace. Except that she was dressed in a conservative gray pantsuit, she reminded me of a giraffe. She was exotic as hell, but not the least bit attractive in the way you would expect a prostitute to be. I had no earthly idea, until my boss told me, what she was or why she was there.
My curiosity was piqued, to say the least, hardly surprising in a 20-something single man living in a bridal suite and surrounded by all manner of moral ambivalence. I wanted to see her naked. My own moral reservations were easily overwhelmed by the serendipitous confluence of raging hormones and the sudden availability of not just a sure thing, but one with a level of expertise that was guaranteed to prove enlightening. In the end though I was rescued from this folly and its probable consequences.
I'd like to say that it was prayer and reflection that saved me, but it was not. It was rather the leering impropriety of my boss's enthusiasm for the project that put me off. I had already learned not to trust him. He was an insensitive lout, a borderline drunk, a racist, a misogynist, and a boor.
He once told me with a straight face that white people who grew up where he did in East Texas, even though they peppered their speech with racial epithets, were actually less bigoted than people from, say, Pennsylvania, whose speech may have been politically correct but who still took every opportunity to insure that minorities did not get the same advantages as they did. This was not a do-as-I-do-not-as-I-say kind of lesson. He still thought it was appropriate to deny minorities the fullness of life in America. He just thought it was mean spirited to pretend otherwise. Far better in his opinion that everyone should know exactly where they stood.
His lack of respect for women was even more pronounced than his racism. He treated his wife like dirt. She was a lovely woman, a good mother to his children, attractive and lively. I never once heard him say anything complimentary to her or about her. He talked to her in public and private as if she were some vacuous slattern committed to preventing him reaching his true potential. He complained about her incessantly, and shared intimate details of their sex life that would have caused her to hide in the closet had she known about it.
In the short course of our association, he said two things to me about women that were so vile I cannot to this day, some 40 years later, recall them without cringing. I will not repeat them here. You can't make me.
Knowing all this, I knew that there would be two debriefings if I availed myself of the prostitute's services—one for me and one for her. It was her's that worried me. I knew of a certainty that whatever she had to say about me afterward, good, bad or indifferent, it would be filed away in the most perverse recesses of my boss's mind and come back to haunt my existence at the most inopportune imaginable time.
So, in the end, I opted out of the test drive. Curious as I might have been, there was no percentage for me in the enterprise. It was a thing bound to end in regret. That was of course the precise moment at which my boss decided that I must be gay. Oh well.