Friday, November 20, 2009

I Shall be Released

(This essay was written in October of 2008. I just never had the drive to post it. Also, I really need to write about something other than sex and Rock & Roll. Enjoy.)

For the record, I have never paid for sex, at least not in the ‘cash for services rendered’ capacity. It’s not that I find anything fundamentally wrong with it. Honestly, I’ve considered it but have never gone through with any such encounter because the whole operation just seems kind of slimy. On the surface, it’s a victimless crime and has increasing appeal in today’s mating world. Let’s not lie to ourselves; sometimes you go out with someone on the sole motivation that you’ll see them naked and end the evening with an orgasm. Of course, if you’re any kind of man, you’ll probably be paying for almost everything on the date. It’s an investment on physical satisfaction with the occasional ancillary benefit of emotional fulfillment as well. Such exchanges have been going since the western world’s dissolution of the arranged marriage. If the investment ceases to “pay off” as it were, you’re now out a potentially-sizable sum of money and have no physical benefits to speak of. Therefore, how can one not see any sort of appeal in paying money directly for the sex? It isn’t pretty, but sometimes you just want to get off. Anyway, I should probably rephrase the opening line of this essay. I had never paid for sex with my own money until recently.

If you’re the squeamish type, stop reading now.

A few weeks ago, I was having a rough week; I had just lost my job, was having a writer’s crisis, etc. That Friday night, I met up with a friend who was coincidentally having a similarly frustrating time. After a few minutes of back and forth malaise, he suggested (seemingly in jest) that we hit a “Rub & Tug,” for which he has an affinity. I laughed it off and continued with the conversation. As the minutes went on, he made it clear that he was in fact, not joking. My immediate response was “absolutely not” but kept pushing the issue. For every one of my specific objections he had a rebuttal. I said I just lost my job and couldn’t rationalize spending my cash on frivolous things, he said the trip would be his treat. I told him I felt slimy, he explained how un-slimy it was. For the sake of brevity, I won’t go into his entire discourse, but it centered on the way your average schlub justifies a strip club. (They provide a service, it’s the girls’ choice to work there, and so on.) We argued back and forth for about fifteen minutes until he said the magic words: “C’mon it will make a great story.”

Now, I’m a firm believer in being an active participant in life. I’m not the type to sit back and watch. Being a writer, I’ll do anything once if it will make for a interesting reading material. He now had me pinned. Besides, who am I turn down a free massage? At the very least, I could enjoy the massage and decline the “release” portion. There is no law that says you must accept a handjob. There are several laws that say you can’t pay for one.

After a quick stop at the ATM, my friend (henceforth referred to as “Steve”) climbed into the car and briefed me on how things were to go down. After all, one can’t just walk into a massage parlor and order a handjob off the menu. Steve told me that I’d enter like I would at any reputable spa: I would meet my masseur, she’d lead me to the room and turn on some soothing music, instruct me to get undressed. He told me the massage would be like any other, except at the end. Near the end of the session the woman would ask if there’s anything else I’d like, at which time I’d make reference to my nether region.

“Now,” Steve specifically noted, “She’s going to try to get you to pay $60 for the happy ending. I know for a fact that she’ll settle for $40.”

“How often do you go to this place?”

“Don’t worry about it. Just tell her $40. If she gives you any shit, tell her you heard from me that it’s $40 and

that’s all you have. She’s not going to turn it down.”

It was probably right here when I got nervous. I have a hard time correcting a waiter who fucks up my order, now I was going to have to haggle for a handjob.

“I don’t know who’s working, but if Suki is on tonight, she’s mine. Don’t worry, the other girl is good too.”

“You have a regular girl?”

“Shut up.”

“What if she won’t do it? I mean, what if…”

“She knows the drill. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

“What about the tip? Do I have to tip her on top of the extra $40?”

“No. The jerkoff money is the tip.”

Steve and I walked in to the parlor and it was exactly like you’d expect. The place was small, but clean. The front window was steamy, adding to the neon-induced pink haze of the façade. The woman behind the front desk was older, well-kempt, and amiable. I hesitate to call her a “madam” but this was definitely her place. For a minute, I felt oddly guilty that such a nice older woman, probably someone’s grandmother, was running a handjob house. Then I thought that perhaps I’d soon be ejaculating at the grip of one of her grandchildren.

“You both want massage?”

“Yeah, the two of us,” Steve replied.

“Is Suki in?” Steve inquired.

“Yes but she with someone now. You want to wait? Two girls working tonight. If you come back in 45 minutes, we be ready. You want come back?”


As if I wasn’t edgy enough, we now had to wait 45 minutes. Standing around thinking about the myriad things that could go wrong was exactly what I wanted. We did what anyone does when waiting for a handjob, we went for a beer. That beer might have been the most awkward of my life. Steve and I talked, but actively avoided eye contact. I checked the clock on my cell phone every 2 minutes until it was time to go. Why was I so nervous? It was not as if we were about to execute a mob hit. It was just a handjob. You ever gotten a tattoo or a more-serious-than-an-earlobe piercing? You know the feeling once you’ve paid and you’re just waiting for the artist/piercer to ready the station? That’s the feeling; that’s the best way I can describe it.

Back inside the massage parlor, things again went exactly as I expected, and almost to a cliché degree. Just like the movies, the grandmother from before ducked behind a screen and hollered something in Mandarin and a second later, two women, smiling like a window display and giggling, walked out and stood shoulder to shoulder in the lobby. We were introduced (Steve had a moment of “good to see you again,” the perv) and we were led back to our respective rooms. On my way back to the room, I had a miniature argument with myself about the stereotypical nature of the scene. While stereotypes are usual rooted in truth, this place almost seemed to be following a handbook entitled, “So, You’re Interested in Opening a Shady Massage House.” I imagined my rather attractive masseur sitting in the break room smoking a cigarette when we walked in. In my head, she really had a Southside accent and after the madam gave her the signal, she mumbled, “Ah fuckin’ A, more of this crap,” before switching on the Hello Kitty Schoolgirl act. I used to work sales. Everyone turns into someone else when they hear the customer hit the floor.

Just as Steve laid out, we walked into the room and she turned on the stereo. Apparently, “So, You’re Interested in Opening a Shady Massage House” comes with a free pan-flute-laden CD that you must play on repeat. She instructed me to get undressed and she’d be right back. I took off my clothes and hung my things on the hooks behind the door. I headed over toward the massage table and froze. At a reputable spa, the table is equipped with two sheets- you lay on one and the other covers your naked ass. This table though, had no sheets. Where the sheets were supposed to be was nothing but that Medical-grade butcher paper; the uninviting shit you see in a doctor’s office. I stood there for a minute scratching my head, stark naked. Surely, I wasn’t supposed to just sit there and wait, right? They’d at least supply me a gown and a copy of Highlights if that was the case, right? I heard her footsteps coming back down the hall and made a snap decision. Because I’m a genius, I deduced that this place’s sheets must actually be made of paper. And so I climbed under the butcher paper. Face Down.

I heard the door open, a pause, a giggle, and an “um sir?” I turned to look over my shoulder and the lady was standing there with a fresh white sheet and a look on her face that screamed, “Jesus I have to touch this retard’s cock?” In her broken English she told me to lay ON TOP of the paper and she’d put a sheet over me, and I covered my behavior with something about how I didn’t see sheets so I figured this is how it was done. Looking back, this is about the most embarrassed I’ve ever felt in my adult life, it even surpassed the time where I absent-mindedly tried to walk through the subway turnstile, without swiping my card, and in the middle of rush hour. Even though the subway incident was in front of many people who thought I was a moron, I was naked here. We have a new champion.

This little nugget of stupid, in conjunction with the impending tug of war, made it almost impossible to enjoy the massage I was receiving. Normally, as a man being rubbed down by an attractive female masseur, the fear of an involuntary erection is always prancing about one’s consciousness. That evening I was face down in that massage table donut praying for a boner. What was I going to do if she went for the stickshift and I couldn’t get out of park? I’m sure she’d seen it a hundred times, but that was a level of embarrassment I couldn’t endure. I would have would out the front door naked and directly into oncoming traffic. Or worse, she’s jerking away to no avail and I get dressed dejected. Then what? Do I still have to give her $40? Does she only get half? Would it be ungentlemanly of me to ask for a refund? Is she entitled to an extra twenty because she had to work harder?

It also didn’t help that this massage was awful. It wasn’t quite, college-girl-reciprocating-half-heartedly, but relatively speaking it sucked. I liken that particular rubdown to a small child making bread with her mother. The little kid is just pushing the dough around the counter saying, “I’m helping.” Of course, she’s not actually of any assistance but you have to reaffirm her anyway. “Yes you are. You’re so helpful, Pumpkin.” Yes, I understand that analogy is a little apropos here but it’s the best I could possible describe it and it’s the actual vision I got in my head in between the flashes of boner apprehension.

Eventually, she turned me over to my back and (poorly) massaged my chest and arms. It was easy to see that she was working up to the grand finale. Every time she moved, she would elbow or nudge my cock without even a modicum of subtlety. She slowly worked down that way and took the necessary steps to “raise the flag,” as it were. Thankfully, there was no problem in that department. Just as she got me to full mast, she stopped and said, “massage here cost extra.” I think this technique is what some might call, “motivating a buyer.” Playing along, I asked her how much and, right on cue, she told me it would be $60. Also right on cue, I sheepishly said, “$40?”

“You talked to your friend, huh? Ok, $40”

She reached down and pulled out a bottle of oil. This wasn’t the bullshit they used on backs and arms, no sir. This was the good stuff. The shit they keep under the table. She oiled me up and got on with it. To most men, the handjob is the degenerate cousin of the sex family. You don’t want it out of the family, but you don’t want to be stuck with it either. The handjob is something nobody turns down, but no one is really excited to get. You don’t look a gift horse in the hand, after all. I’ve received quite a few in my lifetime. A few times I’ve been happy just to walk away with something, as if the manual crank was a consolation prize. More often than not, though, it’s just disappointing and damaging to the ego. You go home and wonder, “what, I’m not even blowjob worthy?” Moreover, handies are often poorly-executed. I know this equipment and work with it daily, all the more irritating when someone less-informed does a sub-par job. As an adult, removed from the years when someone else’s skin was enough to send my junk into fits, a handjob usually consists of me laying there, hoping for the best and eventually willing my way to orgasm.

The handjob I received on said evening, however, was nothing of the sort. Almost immediately, I started feeling pangs of lightning in my abdomen (“oh shit, the chowder is nearing arrival”) kind of pangs. Thirty seconds later, I was in final countdown. A cascade of grunts poured from my mouth. She responded with moans and an ‘Oh God’ of her own, both of which were so convincing I ejaculated a small country. Honestly and without hyperbole, that orgasm was in the Top 5 ever. Ever. Under any other method of extraction. Ever.

I laid there a minute, bewildered at what just happened, and she ran out the room. A minute later, she returned with a fresh, steamy towel and cleaned me up. By the time I was clean, I was still panting and amazed. I guess it pays to hire a professional. She didn’t even hustle me out of the room. She climbed up and sat on the edge of the table and made small talk. If this was part of her routine, as it probably was, she played it to perfection. She played a bit with my nipple piercing, batting them like a cat, and commented on how “cool” I was and how she’s so glad she met me. Granted, I am probably a little more hip and decent than the average yokel that wanders in there, but still beyond the call of duty. After any orgasm of consequence, one tends to feel a little shaky. I climbed off the table and in a manner reminiscent of Bambi on ice. I paid her, said goodbye, and headed out the door. I hung out in the lobby and shared some awkward glances with Grandma while waiting for Steve. Thankfully, I got a phone a call and excused myself out the front door before our interaction got any more cumbersome. I can’t imagine she and I would have much to talk about.

My friend from New York was calling to relay an embarrassing story he incurred earlier that day. I was like, “Dude, you have no idea.” The whole time he was talking, I couldn’t get my mind off of what just happened and if writing about it was a little too much- even for me. Obviously, we see how that line of doubt ended up. Steve was right, it does make for a good story. When he first mentioned it I thought for sure I would work the humanist angle and how it’s a commentary on the status of male sexuality in modern America or perhaps I’d study the sadness of immigration and sex work. Ultimately, I don’t feel like doing either. Sometimes a man just needs a handjob. Quite honestly, the transaction didn’t feel slimy and I don’t look upon it as anything more. It’s just a handjob. There are far dirtier and more degrading ways to make a living in this country. In fact, the bar job I lost at the beginning of that week was one of them. Maybe I’m being obtuse or insensitive or irresponsible, but trying to view this encounter through a broader scope almost feels, for lack of a better term, “whorish.” Sometimes a good story is just a good story.

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