'I Was a Birthday Present for an 82-Year-Old Grandmother'
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Credit: Copyright © 2009 by David Henry Sterry and R. J. Martin Jr. from Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money, and Sex. Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint.
I WAS A BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR AN EIGHTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD GRANDMOTHER
"David, I've got a fantastic job for you, Friday night, this is a two-hundred-dollar job!" Mr. Hartley's straight-shooter baritone reaches down my throat all the way to my seventeen-year-old balls and squeezes.
"Wow," I say in what I hope is a loverstudguy voice, but which I suspect smacks of eunuch, "that's great, excellent, thanks, I uh--"
"David," Mr. Hartley sounds like a benevolent dictator in a three-piece suit, cheerful as the day is long, but a master alpha, "this is a very special job. Very special. I'm really counting on you, David. This is a very important client. And if you do this job well, I can absolutely guarantee there are going to be a lot of exciting opportunities on the horizon for you. You understand me, David? Do we understand each other?"
I have no idea what he's talking about so I say:
"Sure, absolutely, I got it--"
"This is a unique opportunity for you, David. I want you to be completely prepared. It's a rather unusual job. But I think it really matches your skill set."
My mind races. Will there be barnyard animals involved? Ritual sacriï¬ce? Unmentionable ï¬‚uids? I see myself in a slideshow of perversion. What will you do for money? Where do you draw your line? How much of your life are you willing to sell for two hundred dollars? And remember, this is 1974 money, so that's like one thousand dollars now.
"David, this client, who I must emphasize is extremely important, has decided that she wants to treat her friend to a very special birthday gift. And that birthday gift is you. So get ready to put on your birthday suit." Mr. Hartley laughs at his own joke. He has a machine gun of a laugh, rat-a-tat-tat. "I kid, of course. Seriously, though, you are being given as a birthday present to a wonderful, charming, sophisticated, mature woman."
Mature. Oh, I see. Mature.
"David, it's our policy at the Hollywood Employment Agency to give our clients all the information they need to succeed. We believe that preparation is essential to success. And for this job, it's very important that you understand that the client will be celebrating her eighty-second birthday."
"It's very important to us, David, that our people are comfortable performing the jobs we ask them to do. I want to make sure you're comfortable with this. Are you comfortable with this, David?"
No. No. No. I'm not comfortable with this job. I don't honestly think I can fuck an eighty-two-year-old. That's what I say in my seventeen-year-old man-child idiot head. Out loud I say, "Sure, absolutely, I'm on it."
"You're on it," Mr. Hartley's Uzi of a laugh rattles around in my skull. "That is droll, David, very droll. That's exactly why I thought of you when this job came in. I have every conï¬dence that you won't let me... down." Bam bam bam, Mr. Hartley laughs fast and staccato. "I kid of course. David, I want you to call me as soon as this job is done. Do you understand? Do we understand each other?"
"Absolutely, for sure, y--"
Mr. Hartley gives me the 411 and then I disconnect.
Immediately my shattered brain sees this horrifying picture: An ancient naked wrinkled saggy droopy granny is spread-eagled in front of me, and my poor placid ï¬‚accid penis is a lifeless piece of useless meat; I have to give the money back; I am shamed, spiraling down humiliated, a brutal failure rejected by Mr. Hartley and Sunny, drummed out of the business, shunned by all my Chicken peers, the only family I know at this point that accepts me for what I am, my paycheck, my refuge, my people.
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 deï¬nitely 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 outï¬t. 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 ï¬‚owers 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 deï¬nitely 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 ï¬rst 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, ï¬‚oating 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 ï¬ve minutes ago.
Dot insists I have a chocolate-covered strawberry. It doesn't take much persuasion, really. Oh my God. That chocolate on that strawberry, it is just about the best thing I've had in my mouth--apparently it is some top-drawer chocolate from Belgium--it has a hard crunch to it when you bite into it, but then it gets all melty in your mouth, and the way it plays in symphony with the juice of the strawberry, perfectly ripe, ï¬‚ooding, singing with the chocolate... When I ï¬nish I see her watching me with a big grin on her face.
Dot tells me she really likes to watch people enjoy themselves. I tell her how much I am enjoying myself. And the crazy thing is, I totally mean it. Usually I just say it whether it's true or not. But it's much easier when it's actually true. She asks me if I want another one. I say no. But I really do want another one. Then she asks me if I really want another one but I am just saying I don't. Like she can look inside my head. Which I guess isn't so hard, since I am practically drooling to have another one. But then she totally insists that I have another chocolate-covered strawberry. So I do. I have two more after that. I could eat every single one. But I am there to do a job. I ï¬gure another chocolate-covered strawberry might impair my ability to perform.
Dot is one of those people who hates to have air in a conversation. She is telling me all about her husband, how they met, how he proposed to her. He was such a romantic, he took her to Europe, he took her to South America, they went to Broadway shows, apparently he was a massively charming fellow. She shows me a picture of him that she has in her purse, and I must admit, he was a dapper motherfucker. It's a black-and-white picture, and he's in this sharp suit with these two-tone shoes with his hair all slick and this debonair devil-may-care smile on his face.
Once he died, she couldn't live in their old place anymore. He'd been dead for ten years or more. He was older than she was. It's sad but it's happy. But it makes me like her so much, that she has all this love for this guy. They were married for like fifty years or something. I just can't fathom being married to somebody for fifty years, at this time in my life. But she says he was a pistol and a firecracker and a bundle of fun. Apparently, they used to have these parties with all their brilliant, zany, fabulous friends. And they used to get all dressed up and talk about art and politics and life and death and war and taxes. It's fun listening to her talk about her life. Makes me hope that at some point I can have a life. Some fantastic wife, brilliant, crazy, zany friends, some big house with a pool and lots of rooms where people can party. Sounds nice. Kristy, my girlfriend. I see her being my wife. Getting set up by her parents in some fabulous swank Beverly Hills pad.
This is such a great job so far, that’s what I’m thinking. But of course there’s that nag in the back of my head what is it going to be like when I have to perform? There are many things in life you can fake. An erection is not one of them. I’m trying to imagine a way that I can get it up and get it off. I believe I can do it. That’s what I think. But then the very next second I think, well what if I can’t? What if it just hangs there like wet spaghetti?
At a certain point I can tell she’s got something on her mind that she can’t quite talk about. Her monologue stops and she hems and haws and tuts a little. I don’t know what the hell to do. I’m scared to death of what she wants. But I want to give her what she wants. I really want to please her. She’s been so nice to me. And I want to succeed at this job. Be an American. Be a man. I’m scared to death of what she’s going to ask me to do. Does she want to ride me? Will I be able to achieve liftoff with her lying naked on top of me? I believe I can. I know I can’t. Does she want to do something weird to me? Something bizarre that old people do that I don’t know about?
Finally she gets up her nerve and she says: “I’ve had this fantasy for a long time. I’ve never talked to anyone about this before, but I figure, what the heck, if not now, when? If not here, where?”
The suspense is killing me. I just know I’m not going to be able to perform.
“I’ve always wanted someone to kiss me...” she motions with her head down towards her nether regions, “down there.”
Is that it? Thank you, Lord, for delivering me from the wilderness. That’s all she wants? I can do that with my eyes closed. In fact many times I have. And then I think, can you imagine wanting to have someone go down on you for sixty years? Having a husband and not being able to ask him to do that? I went down on Kristy the first time we had sex. I’ve performed cunnilingus with every girlfriend I’ve ever had. It seems like one of the most basic sexual things you can do. My mind is officially boggled.
But I feel such relief. The world, which was weighing so heavily on my shoulders, has been lifted. I assure Dot that I would be more than happy to make her dream come true.
She gets under the covers. She doesn’t take her clothes off. This is getting better and better.
Here are the best jobs in order.
1. All they want to do is talk.
2. All they want to do is talk while I’m naked.
3. All they want to do is talk while I’m naked and playing with myself. And when I say playing with myself of course I mean masturbating.
So this is the fourth best job there is, as far as I’m concerned. Which is very high up on the list. Extremely low maintenance. Actually, anything that doesn't involve erection is good.
Dot wiggles and wriggles under the covers. I guess she's taking her old lady underpants off. She doesn’t tell me to take my clothes off, so I don’t. I crawl under the covers. I suspect there will be wrinkly grandmother flesh. But what do I care? Cunnilingus is cunnilingus. Luckily I was trained in this art by the first girlfriend I ever had. She was much older than I was and rigorously demanding, although in a very sweet way.
So it takes a while for me to burrow myself in, but eventually I find myself between her legs. It’s very dark in there. Like a cave. I like it. And when I get myself up there it smells good. Fresh. Manicured. Everything is quite smooth leading up to the area. Which is a very pleasant surprise to me.
At first she seems very stiff. Tense. Ironing-board-like. I take my time. I go slow. I kiss all around the area softly and very gently. Some lips. A little tongue. But very light. And the more I do it the more she softens. And then she’s moving herself toward my mouth. And there’s little moans and sighs and groans and gasps coming from outside the covers. How cool is this? I’m thinking, she’s totally into it. I feel so useful at this moment. I’m a success here. Doing something that requires skill and special talent. I’m a success at this, a thousand dollars for making someone happy. That’s an excellent job.
So now her hands are on my head and she’s pulling my head into her area. And to tell you the truth, her area is much like any other area I’ve been in, vis-à-vis women’s nether regions. Especially since I'm in this black cave where I can’t see anything. I think it actually helps.
Dot is gently manipulating my head so she’s getting it exactly where she wants it and I’m just applying the appropriate pressure. It’s like we’re dancing and she’s leading while I’m following. And she’s getting all the symptoms of excitation. It’s all happening. I could not be happier.
Dot now seems to be climbing the ladder of the stairway to heaven. I don’t know how long I've been going at this now, but it doesn’t seem that long. And she's already manifesting all the physical symptoms of pre-orgasm.
Sure enough, here it comes. Here she comes. She is diving off the board into the pool of sexual ecstasy. It’s happening right here. I am making this happen. I have such a sense of joy and satisfaction. She's been so nice to me. Plus, I know that Mr. Hartley is going to get a great report. I’ll get more business. Sunny will be so proud of me. One thousand dollars for fifteen minutes of oral manipulation. To make this sweet and lovely human feel good. To make our dreams come true. Or at least one of them, anyway.
It’s clear we’re done. So I burrow out from under the covers and head into the bathroom. To give her a chance to put herself back together. I wash. She tasted great. Can you imagine? An eighty-two-year-old great grandmother tasted great.
Sure enough, when I come back out, she’s totally put together, like nothing happened. Except for the bloom in her cheeks and the sweet smile of satisfaction on her lips.
Dot thanks me profusely. She asks me if I would like to take a chocolate-covered strawberry with me. I confess that I would.
I grab a chocolate-covered strawberry and head for the door, full-to-overflowing with a sense of well-being. Even though my parents don’t care to talk to me, even though I have no home and no family except for a bunch of prostitutes and a pimp, even though I have no future and I'm wracked by nightmares and lusting for revenge on the men who attacked me, at least I’m good at this.
As I leave with my chocolate-covered strawberry, Dot surreptitiously slips a crisp green bill into my hand while she plants a very nice kiss on my cheek. When I pull back, she playfully wipes the lipstick off my cheek. It's a tiny little gesture, but it feels so intimate and connected in a world where connection is virtually impossible for me.
I thank her sincerely-- wish her a happy birthday.
She thanks me right back.
Then I’m gone.
It’s a one hundred dollar bill. And that’s 1974 money. So multiply by five. Five hundred dollars she just gave me. Plus the two hundred that was in the envelope on the fancy platter with the food. I love that. I wish all my clients would do that. An envelope. That way I don't even see the money until after the job is over. It's better that way.
I open the envelope. There's the two hundred dollars. So that's the equivalent of ï¬fteen hundred dollars to drink champagne, eat chocolate-covered strawberries, and make one pretty great grandma woman's dream come true.
America, what a country!
Click here to buy a copy of Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys