The other cheek

Matt grants me my bed rest; Allison waxes New Age.

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Dec. 16, 1999

Saturday, October 23

Laid low by my still-tender lower parts, I had to invent an excuse when Matt tried to take me to dinner last night. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him how I goofed up during my bikini wax: The less said about that incident, the better. “I slipped and pulled a muscle,” I told him. “We have to order in and we can’t fuck,” I added sweetly. “Doctor’s instructions.”

“Did the doctor prescribe pizza?” he asked. “Or Chinese? Should I go out and pick up wine?” I loosened his tie, thinking, How married this sounds. All the conjugal intonations and none of the paperwork. As I slipped into girlfriend mode, the headaches, fears and threats of recent days were becoming strangely unreal. There was a happy glow of yuppie-ish normalcy all around us and we hadn’t even started on the merlot.

My entanglement with a National Enquirer cover girl faded into the distance as Matt embraced me. “How long do we have to wait?” he added, in a confidential voice. “What if I’m really, really gentle?”

Matt won’t be getting near my pussy until next weekend at the earliest! There was a time in my life when I would have allowed my boyfriend to have first dibs after a spell of infirmity. Now I’m ensuring a speedy recovery so I can keep my appointment with Milton.

“Sweetheart,” I murmured, “bed rest is what’s called for.”

He went out to gather red wine and hunt for a suitable video. I felt a twinge of remorse, but this vanished when I recalled his summer affair with Larissa. Is deprivation delayed payback for his fling? I didn’t plan it that way — but why the strange aura of satisfaction, the sense of justice served, when I decided to let a client have me first? It’s just a job; it’s not revenge sex!

Or is it? Liane once told me that working girls at 30 are in great psychic danger: “There is a dark side to the Monkey Business. Money becomes a form of erotic depravity in and of itself,” she warned me. “Of course that won’t happen to you because I expect you’ll marry some nice man your own age, dear. Just make sure he never finds out! And try to meet him before that happens!” I find her madamish theories oddly haunting. Crazy, unfounded, almost Gothic-sounding, but I can’t help thinking: She does own a duplex just off Madison Avenue. Surely, she deserves a certain respect.



Sunday, October 24

I still have to figure out what to do about the three-way that Milt wanted. I suppose a stand-in for Allison is better than not coming through at all. When a client is that excited, you hate to disappoint.

Against my attorney’s wishes, I called April from my cell phone today. Despite what Barry says, I feel safer when April believes I’m willing to appease her in some way. If I stand her up without an explanation — well, she’s pretty scary. “I won’t be able to meet you this weekend. I’m in the Hamptons,” I lied. These days you only dare lie about where you’re calling from if you’re on a mobile. I can remember when that wasn’t the case, but those carefree days are over. Caller I.D. has made us cynical and the most casual phone lie has lost its innocence.

“That’s OK,” she said, “I’m staying in the city for another week — maybe longer.” Her cool tone was disarming. What is she planning?

My non-working parts are starting to feel better, and I almost allowed Randy to come over this afternoon. Why is it that a guy with nothing to offer can inspire me to toss my sensible plan — recuperating for the purpose of business — completely aside? I heard his voice — eager, affectionate, protective — and was ready to cave! There’s no future with Randy, we have nothing in common.

On the other hand: Matt (bearer of a possible future) merits a mercy blow job when my pussy is out of commission; Randy doesn’t. It’s all so complicated — grading and sorting these guys. I wish I could be like Jasmine — viewing men entirely in business terms. How does she do it? Lust is what every hooker must learn to fear, the way canny sailors fear the sea.

Monday, October 25

This afternoon, a very strange, muted voice mail — from Allison, of all people! “I’m having my land line disconnected” — again? — “Please call me on my new cell phone.” I felt a stab of fear as I listened, and then creeping doubt as I replayed it for Jasmine, using three-way calling. Soon, we three — Jasmine, the voice-mail robot and I — were caught up in a horrible tangle of sounds.

“Hang the fuck up!” Jasmine shouted. “I hate three-way calling! I’ve heard enough!” Reconnected, she agreed with my hypotheses. “Yes, you now have two scheming blonds after your well-meaning ass — maybe Allison’s acting as April’s administrative assistant. This, ultimately, is what you get for trying to help an imbecile. Listen,” she added. “I have to be at La Caravelle in 10 minutes and my eyes aren’t done. Is your snatch still indisposed?”

“My — uh — is there another word you might care to use?” I sniffed. Hard to believe that Jasmine is capable of morphing into a $1,000 dinner companion when she carries on like this.

“Well,” Jasmine said. “I’m sure your precious Allison never talks that way. If you can’t fuck,” she continued, “there’s always Harry. He didn’t ask for you or anything,” she said in a huffy voice, “but I was trying to promote you because he’s just a blow job. Or how about Roberto? He’s a bit of a nuisance but he’s just a hand job. Not that I give a fuck what happens to you or anything!” I mumbled my thanks and agreed to see two of Jasmine’s guys tomorrow afternoon.

Later

Another call from Allison. “Nancy? Oh, thank God, you’re there. Please don’t hang up! We need to talk. I’ve been a terrible friend.” Jasmine, now productively occupied at her dinner gig, would have hung up for me, had she been present. “I said some terrible things, didn’t I? Well, I was drunk, too, you know. I didn’t realize my phone records had been subpoenaed — my old phone records! They’ve got a printout of every number I called last year!”

“They?”

“I made a mistake about you and April — oh, Nancy, I hope you’ll forgive me! I’ve been saying affirmations about our friendship for three days. I really value our friendship. You’ve been like a sister to me! And I hope you value it too …” I cringed as she prattled on. “Tom Winters called my clients — he has — you’ll never believe what I’ve been through.”

But she threatened me! She threatened to turn me in! Forgiving is one thing, involving myself is another.

“I don’t know, Allie,” I said with a sad sigh. “I’ve been through a lot, too, you know.” I couldn’t even tell her how hurt I was by what she had done to me. And all this mumbo jumbo about affirmations wasn’t very encouraging.

“I’ve been talking to April,” she continued, barely aware of my comments, “and she won’t leave me alone. She’s a very negative person! I should have realized that you would never be involved in something so toxic, so — so sex-negative!”

“Sex-negative?”

“I’ll tell you about it when I see you. Anyway, April doesn’t know that I have her figured out,” Allie added, more confidently. “I mean, aside from the sex-negative thing which is really a problem for her to solve on her own. But she asked me to give her my percentage of the $1,500 and she said you had given her your percentage. I played along and asked her how much my part was. So she said, all snotty-like, ‘Well, Allison, you know what the split was, so don’t play games with me.’

“The nerve! I offered her the whole thing and she said I shouldn’t have to give back more than my share. She kept bugging me about it; that’s when I realized she really believes you took a cut of the money.” (Which I didn’t.) “And she was trying to get me to say something she could use against you! I want you to know, I didn’t. By the way, I think April’s jealous of your goddess energy. She keeps talking about how some guys worship you and I can tell she resents it.”

“Well, I’m very flattered, Allie, but why –”

“Look, I really want the healing to begin,” Allie pleaded. “Why don’t you give our friendship another chance? We can’t grow again until there’s forgiveness. People make mistakes! And April’s going to be on TV again — tomorrow night! I want you to watch.”

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