When I was nineteen, I was married and living in an apartment complex in Mountain View, California. I met a girl at the swimming pool one day, and we became friends. Cathy wasn’t married, but she and I had a lot in common. We were the same age and we both loved to read. We both worked in sales, and were both from San Francisco.
Cathy told me she was going up to the City to see a friend the next day and asked me if I wanted to come along. It was about an hour’s drive from Mountain View to San Francisco, and she said she’d love to have company for the ride. I quickly agreed to go along. My husband worked long hours and I was usually bored if I was home alone. Cathy told me her friend was a girl she knew from high school who was now working as a prostitute. I absorbed that information slowly and then thought, “Wow! How cool is this?”
I decided that I wouldn’t mention the details to my husband John. I was fascinated and intrigued and really looking forward to meeting this amazing person. My only ideas of prostitutes were from movies—Belle De Jour with Catherine Deneuve, or Irma LaDouce with Shirley Maclain came to mind. I really wasn’t sure exactly what prostitutes did exactly. I mean, yeah, they had sex for money, but was it just normal sex like my husband and I had? Or for that matter, did we have normal sex? There was just so much information that could come from this nineteen-year-old girl named Melissa who was working in the absurdly adult field of prostitution!
I dressed very carefully the next morning and applied my make up with an expert hand. I wanted to look my best! I wanted to make a good impression on the mysterious and glamorous Melissa. On the ride to the City, Cathy told me that Melissa had a black pimp named Joe. (Oh my God! This just gets better and better!) I was buzzing with anticipation over the whole escapade!
We pulled up in front of a run-down looking apartment building in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. This was not a nice neighborhood. When we went up to the front door, it was open and various people were loitering in the lobby. They were not people I wanted for neighbors. As I followed Cathy up the two flights of stairs, I began to wonder if coming here was the best idea I ever had! The place was so run down and dirty and the people all looked like the dregs of society. What in the hell were we doing here looking a little like a team of Jehovahs Witnesses?
Cathy knocked at the door of Melissa’s apartment. A fairly heavy-set blond girl in a dirty babydoll nightgown opened the door to us and said to come on in. She had apparently been sleeping when we arrived and had smeared mascara around her eyes, and her face was puffy with sleep. I was having trouble getting my mind around the fact that she was nineteen. She looked a bruised forty, literally and figuratively. Her arm was badly bruised as was her leg. Cathy asked her what happened to her and Melissa told us that a cop had raped her and beat her up the night before. I was looking at her dirty feet with the chipped polish and thought that no cop in his right mind would touch this girl. (Yeah, I was naive all right.)
We stayed about an hour and then Cathy asked Melissa to get dressed and we’d take her out to lunch. I am embarrassed to admit how much I did not want to be seen in public with this person. I was so relieved when Melissa declined and said she just wanted to get back in bed. I was somewhat taken aback when she said to me, “If Joe saw you, he’d snatch you up in a minute!” Oh God! Get me out of here! I no longer wanted to meet Joe the pimp. I didn’t want to be “snatched up”. I wanted to go home!
What I expected to be a fascinating adventure was nothing but a terribly depressing and sad situation. It’s nothing like the movies.