No Sex, No Coffee, No Thanks
[January 21st, 2005 10:00pm]
I am on my way back to school from Barnes and Noble on a Friday night searching for mindless adventure along the way. It’s New Jersey, at night, in the middle of January, but I am deliciously warm and toasty in my car. While cruising down Rt. 322, I notice a middle aged woman wandering down the street, struggling to keep warm.
“Poor girl,” I think. I toy around with the idea of giving her a ride home, sharing with her the warmth and comfort of my clean, reliable Nissan Sentra, but quickly dismiss it remembering my unwavering dedication to laziness. Stay the course, Daniel. As I pass by with fullest intention of ignoring her, she makes eye contact and waves, signaling for a stop. She had such sad eyes that demanded help and it looked like she’d been walking in the cold for quite a while. I reevaluate my decision to avoid her and weigh my options. On one hand, she could be mugged, or die of hypothermia if I leave her here…that wouldn’t be too good. On the other hand, I vaguely remember an after-school special involving some kind of crime dog barking at me about not picking up strangers, or something like that. Since my conscience is nagging at me and I can’t seem to recall Scruff McGruff’s explicit instructions, I opt to pass on taking a bite out of crime and instead help myself to a big slice of human kindness. I turn around and make my way back to pick her up. I am very proud of myself for my sudden burst of warmhearted generosity. “This is a wonderful thing you are doing, Daniel,” I say to myself. “This more than makes up for you being an asshole all day. You will most definitely make her night.” I roll down my window and smile.
“Hi,” I call.
“Hello,” she responds, somewhat suspiciously.
“How are you tonight?”
“Not too bad,” she answers.
“Can I drive you anywhere?”
She enters my car. She is about forty years old with blond hair and a few missing teeth. She wears a hat and scarf to keep warm, but no gloves. Her hands are red, chapped and covered with blisters. I am moved to pity. Despite her disheveled appearance, she seems fairly laid back and collected as we make small talk.
Woman: So what are ya up to?
Dan: Well not too much. I’m going to school at Rowan and felt like killin’ some time, just drivin’ around, ya know?
Woman: Sounds fun, hun…Well my name is Alison.
Dan: Hi Alison, I’m Dan.
Alison: Nice to meet you. (We shake hands)
This is nice. “Daniel,” I say to myself, “you are a good, kind-hearted person. She would be miserable and freezing if it wasn’t for you. When you get home, make yourself some steak, you’ve earned it.” I smile, thinking about that f’in steak. It’s gonna be so f’in great. Not wanting to spend too much time with her and away from the steak, I get the journey started:
Dan: So Alison, where can I take you?
Alison: Anywhere you want.
Well that was a strange answer. If, upon reading that bit of conversation your jaw drops and your eyes expand in horror because you’ve just realized that I am currently a prostitute’s chauffeur, you are one step ahead of me. At this point of the night I had not yet come to that realization. I simply assumed that she’s had a long day and wants to go for a ride to take her mind off it. I am naive.
Dan: Um…I…I uh, was just kinda thinkin’ that I’d, like, take you home…to your house…where you live..?
Alison: Well I’ve got a room right there (as she indicates a nearby motel) or we could go somewhere else, if you like.
There must be a misunderstanding… I am not talking to a prostitute. This isn’t New York, this isn’t HBO, this is South Jersey. I am not talking to a prostitute.
Alison: You lookin’ to have a good time?
I am most certainly talking to a prostitute.
Dan: Uh…No…actually. I wasn’t looking to have a- a good time at all..like…like at all. I was …I thought…you needed a ride…I was gonna….your house…uh..
Prostitute: Nope. I got five kids at home and I been stuck with em’ all day, Sweets. I’m just lookin’ to have a little fun and make some money.
Yikes yikes yikes yikes yikes. Jesus Christ! Does this happen? Is this my life? Is this something everyone goes through? I don’t think so. I sincerely doubt that if I walk into a restaurant or classroom and say “I accidentally picked up prostitute last night” that several other people will casually turn around and reply “Oh yea. I’ve done that. Join the club.” No. I believe I am the one and only member of that particular club. No no, I am the freakin’ President of the “Accidental Prostitute Club,” (APC, General Interest Meeting Next Tuesday, Be There- we’ll have cookies and mocktails!).
The sweat starts to pour uncontrollably and my head starts spinning. Everything is getting blurry and I can’t understand how I went from Barnes and Noble just a few minutes ago to this. The taste of vomit makes its first appearance of the night and a few key words and phrases pop into my brain as I fruitlessly try to come up with a plan. “You’re under arrest for prostitution” being one of them. “Herpes,” another. The awful truth officially dawns on me: There is a middle aged, moderately smelly hooker in my passenger seat. Her face is laced with warts, and she has a smile that says “When it comes to teeth, ‘Less is More.’” Needless to say, this is a new experience for me. I desperately try to remember the HBO Special I saw on prostitutes, “Hookers at the Point,” but it unfortunately did not cover how to successfully eject “Ladies of the Street” from my car. Damn you, HBO, for your faulty investigative reporting. I am at a loss. My mind continues to race out of control as Alison analyzes the backseat, probably mentally preparing the events to come.
Some Dan O’Brien information: Under normal circumstances, I am a well-versed and articulate person. I am an intelligent and conversational person. I can hold my own in any discussion of either political, religious or philosophical nature. I pride myself with regards to my intellect, vocabulary and wit. That being said, considering this is the first time I am sitting four inches away from “Crackwhore Magazine’s Miss September,” I am understandably less than eloquent. To say I was at a loss for words would be an understatement. More appropriately, I resembled a Down Syndrome patient at a Spelling Bee.
Dan: I…you…this…I thought…yikes…I thought you were cold….or…thi-…uh..
That was all I could utter despite the fact that “Please get out of my car, I don’t want to have sex with you” would have been much more appropriate and effective. Finally, she ends my merciless slaughter of the English language:
Prostitute: You’re not interested?
Dan: EXACTLY! I am totally NOT interested! I’m not really…its…just…its not really…my.. “thing,” ya know?(Perfect! She knows now that I’m not interested, we’ll have a big laugh about our hilarious misunderstanding and call it a night. This conversation is over!)
Why? What an intrusive little prostitute. Why? She says “why?” This was unbelievable. I said “no,” what about that don’t you understand? I am NOT interested in you, go peddle your wares elsewhere, strumpet.
Dan: It’s just not my style.
Prostitute: Well how do you know if you’ve never tried it?
Dan’s Inner Monologue: Whoa whoa whoa, slow down, hooker. Lets get one thing straight: I don’t think I need to “try” paying a middle-aged crackwhore for a handjob to confirm that it isn’t my style, okay? I trust my instincts on this one, got it?!
My inner monologue proceeded to encourage me to say all that, to really let the prostitute have an earful. As with most voices in my head, I ignored this one and settled for the much more subtle approach:
Prostitute: I’m clean.
Dan’s Inner Monologue: Hahahahahahahaha.
Dan: Really that’s…that’s not it, I trust you…Its just not….“me.”
Prostitute: It’s just a blowjob.
Oohhh I’m sorry that’s about all the time we have for today. I am way over my head. Any hopes that maybe she isn’t a prostitute can be thrown out the window. I am officially my father.
Dan: Uh..Really, this isn’t…I’m not gonna…you…geez…(how the HELL do I get this prostitute out of my car? Sub-question: How many other people in the history of the world have wondered that?)
So I did the most “Dan O’Brien” thing I could think of: I asked her if she wanted to go out for coffee. Why? Call me old fashioned, but partying with prostitutes just isn’t my thing. Getting a cup of coffee at a diner: that’s my thing. I can handle coffee. I can handle sitting in a nice diner with quiet music and plenty of witnesses. I am a lot of fun at diners, a lot more fun than when I’m crying in the backseat of my car. I’ll buy her a cheesecake, we’ll talk about the 80’s, it’ll be fun! I’ll tell the waitress it’s her birthday and she’ll be so embarrassed when everyone sings to her. I’ll tell her about all the fun I’m having at college, she’ll tell me about all her abandoned dreams and ruined ambitions, and when she’s in the bathroom I’ll run like Hell and I won’t look back. A typical date for me and hopefully a welcome change for her. At the time, this poorly-constructed and potentially dangerous plan was incredibly appealing, and, anyway, it was the best plan I could come up with. Much to my surprise, the prostitute would rather not share my company.
Take that self esteem!
Prostitute: Look kid, I just need like ten bucks. I’ve got five kids at home, no milk no bread, no cigarettes…
We have a deal!…She could have left out that part about the cigarettes, but I was willing to ignore that if it got her out of my car. I reach into my pocket, give her ten bucks, my last ten bucks in fact, and she heads out. Victory! I’m ready to drive full speed to the nearest car wash or lake, whichever comes first, but she stops. She turns around and much to my dismay taps on the window. At this point it would be foolish to assume she was going to return the money, but one can always hope right? Right? I mean, maybe she’s that “Hooker with a heart of gold” or maybe I’m on Punk’d…right?
Prostitute: If you change your mind, I’ll be staying at room 204 (As she awkwardly licks her lips in an attempt to be, what I can only assume, sexy).
Gross. I just barely manage to squeak out “okay” as politely as I can while I roll up my windows with determined intensity. No one has ever rolled up windows this fast in the history of window rolling.
She walks off with my money and I speed away, locking my doors just in case any more hookers decide to hop in.
So now I’m broke. I wanted to do a nice favor and give a cold, helpless woman a ride home. Instead, I gave her my last ten bucks thereby feeding her already out of control crack addiction. Well that’s my good god damn deed for the night.
In conclusion, I see a bright side to all this. Sure, I don’t have any money with which to buy food for the next couple of days. And sure, everyone in the area who saw me will forever associate me with Hookers. AND SURE, my passenger seat is most likely currently host of thousands of sexually transmitted diseases, some classic and some recently undiscovered. AND SURE, I may never be able to wash myself enough to fully wipe clean the stench of hooker… But so what? I made history twice. I can confidently say that I am the first and only person who accidentally picked up a prostitute. AND I can also say with supreme confidence that I am the first and only person who paid a prostitute ten dollars just so she would leave. Not necessarily anything that I’d like to have in the Guinness Book of World Records or anything, but at least it’s better than getting arrested in South Jersey for having a hooker in my car.
Wherever she is, I hope she’s doing well. And I bet I’m right, so long as “well” means “a self-hating businessman with mother issues.” Regardless, she just might be the first woman I ever loved.