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'I Was a Birthday Present for an 82-Year-Old Grandmother'

This excerpt from "Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money, and Sex" details what a 17-year-old in 1974 decided to do for money.

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This is what I'm picturing when I knock on the door at the ultra fancy-ass swank swish hotel. It smells like old money in the hall. I realize suddenly that I'm having trouble breathing. Heart racehorsing pounding against my breastplate. A sticky clammy sweaty nervy jumpy freaky tweaky moisture oozes out of many of my pores. Under my arms are wet, I can feel it now.

The door opens. There she is. In a styley Chanel-type suit, pretty in pink. She definitely has a helmet hairdo, but it's not severe-- it's well done if you like that kind of thing. She's got a huge honking diamond ring. She's got diamonds around her neck, but they're small, not gaudy; they look good. She has on pink shoes the same color pink as her outfit. She's small, but she looks totally trim for an eighty-two-year-old. Has wrinkles on her face, but they're not grotesque. She has makeup on, but it's not grotesque. But the best thing about her is when she smiles. It's a really really nice smile. A smile that welcomes you in. She seems nice. Sweet. Smart. Fun. Not at all what I imagined. Deep relief, heavy sigh. I hope I'm doing this good when I'm eighty-two years old, that's what I think.

She welcomes me in like a hostess greeting an international dignitary. Would I like some champagne? Would I like some chocolate-covered strawberries? Would I like some pâté and cheese? It's all spread out on this fancy silvery tray. All that beautiful food and incredible flowers that smell so excellent. The curtains are closed. The lights are low. Candlelight makes everything soft. I've never really had much champagne at this point. In fact I don't know that I've ever had champagne. Well maybe at boarding school, but that was definitely cheap shit champagne so that doesn't really count. She gives me a long, thin, beautiful glass of champagne. Like I'm an adult. She does it with respect and kindness.

I know what to do. I've been trained well by my mom. So I say: "I want to wish you a very, very happy birthday, and if there's anything I can do to make your dreams come true, I'm here for your pleasure."

I've rehearsed that speech. I'm very happy with the delivery. I hold up that long thin beautiful glass full of the sparkly bubbly. She smiles, almost shyly-- demure, I guess might be the word. She clinks glasses with me. We both drink.

I love the way the champagne shoots tiny little tickling giddy meteors up onto my lip and nose. I love the way it feels inside my mouth-- like the most sophisticated Pop Rocks ever. Smooth, smooth, smooth, it goes down tingly and frothy all the way. And it tastes good.

She tells me her name is Dorothy. But her friends call her Dot. I think that's a cool name. Dot. She's talking about the champagne. She knows a lot about champagne. This is from France, from some famous champagne place. As soon as I am done with the first sip I can't wait for another one, so I just bend my wrist and let it guzzle down my muzzle all twinkly and sparkly. One more big gulp and the whole long thin champagne glass is empty, the contents now inside me. It comes on quick. All of a sudden my head is light on my neck, floating there, and my face feels happy, my bones all jangly, my blood rushing around in a good way. It just feels a lot more great to be alive than it did five minutes ago.

 
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