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Tonight, I was at Niagara with some friends of mine. We were making fun of Jarrett, one of the owners, for micro-managing, after he’d chastised John for not picking up a dirty glass quickly enough. We laughed at Jarrett for not having anything better to complain about, especially since friends of John were using the table with the dirty glass.

“Come on,” John said, “it’s just one glass at the back of the table. They don’t care. We’ll get it later.”

Everyone laughed, but, for some reason, Jarrett turned to me.

“Hey, do I come visit you at work to tell you how to flip the burgers?”

We all laughed. I laughed, he laughed. Then he took it one step farther.

“Do I come to your work and knock the cocks out of your mouth?”

There was an awkward silence, and then people laughed, thinking it was just a ridiculous joke. No one there knew about my escort work except John, who looked at me carefully, watching my reaction.

I racked my brain, trying to remember if I’d told Jarrett about what I did. I knew I hadn’t told him know about the porn or escort work, but I couldn’t remember if he knew about my new job. I didn’t know if John had something. I figured Jarrett wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings, that it was just a bad joke, but he’d also hit the nail on the head. I’d had cocks in my mouth in order to pay the rent, and his words hurt. I felt devastated, cut open, unable to breathe properly. I hated myself. I felt like a cheap whore. The illusion of glamour was gone. I had sucked cock for money. I may not have been cheap, but I was a whore.

A WHORE.

I felt used. I knew how to tell the difference between making love and fucking, but I had had a hell of a lot more experience with the latter than the former. I was a slut, a prostitute. I had sold myself. Maybe not my mind but my body. My pussy had been available to the highest bidder, and I felt like trash for it.

I was ashamed. I grabbed my bag and my coat and went straight home. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I felt unloved, inadequate, and alone. I had no right to be proud of myself, of my nerve and strength. All my self-empowerment, all my self-discovery evaporated. When it came right down to it, I was one of those girls that no one wanted to talk to at parties. I was cheap lovergirl trash. My escort work wasn’t glamorous. Just because I wasn’t standing on a dingy street corner, in a micro-mini and a push-up bra, didn’t make me any different from every other prostitute. I wanted to shower, to scrub my body, to try to rub my past away and down the drain. To lock the door and sit in my apartment, the apartment I got by working my body, and not talk to anyone. I wasn’t as tough or undamaged as I thought.

At the same time, the small part of me that still felt like the girl I had been at fifteen—the girl no boy wanted to kiss, the girl who never got to hold hands at the movies, the girl who no one noticed—that girl wanted to shout, to rip off her clothes and scream, “This fucking body paid my rent.” These tits, these legs, and that warm hole between them made me one of the best.

Jackie had said so.

I tried to find pride in that.

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