I'm someone who needs a lot of help. I often wish there were a half dozen little Susie clones to get all my domestic and professional duties accomplished. Whenever I can afford to, I've hired a house cleaner or contracted a baby sitter to come on a regular night. In my home office, I regularly recruit part-time secretaries who I lavish with un-corporate wages, copies of X-rated videotapes and true tales of the horrors of the publishing industry that leave them gasping. (The sex business pales by comparison.)
In my years as an employer, I have learned this, by tearful experience: NEVER hire an intern. Never let anyone work for free, or even for pennies. I don't know what President Clinton's wisdom is on this matter, but my lesson on interns is that if you expect to get one bloody thing done in your office, the last thing you need is someone who worships you. Interns will eat you alive.
My message to the White House is you get what you pay for. They're privileged enough to already have a fully-cranked steno pool, and if they still want a harem, I'd say to go professional on that one, too.
I encountered my first intern alert when I was pregnant in 1990, looking for an apartment in my fifth month and feeling a little anxious that I was going to end up in a shopping cart and a sleeping bag instead of a carefully tended nest.
Many of my fans had read my articles about expecting my first child, and I received all sorts of congratulations and speculative horoscopes in the mail. The most interesting letter I received was a handwritten note, with a Polaroid attached, from a long-haired, redheaded cross-dressing man. He offered his immaculate service to me as a laundry maid. He promised it all, from fluff 'n' fold to French cuffs. The photograph showed him hard at work in a frilly maid's outfit leaning over a hot ironing board. Wow! I had three loads waiting to go!
I called a friend of mine in the dominatrix trade that afternoon to ask if she could school me in any etiquette I needed to know in accepting this service. "Freeze right there," she said. "I threw that bastard out of my apartment last week." He had pitched the identical deal to her as well. "He thinks every time he turns on the spin cycle he gets to have a hard spanking. You'll never get your wash done!" Load for load, Mr. Petticoats expected that laundry day was going to be our "special" time together.
Undaunted by one bad apple, I experimented with other volunteers. I emphasized our common goal of sexual revolution, and every revolution has its fair share of paperwork and heavy lifting, I stressed. On one occasion, I took on a team of seven guys to host a women's salon, only to find that one of them had disappeared two hours into our project. "What happened?" I asked his comrades.
"He realized he wasn't getting laid." But he hadn't said one word about it during our interview! I was so naive.
Actually, female interns are more scary. If I had just given Mr. Disappearing Act a quick blow job, he probably would have sweated for hours at my bidding. Maybe I really would have lower dry cleaning bills if I could just break out the cat o' nine tails every once in a while.
But when it comes to young women, they want more than a tickle. Sex is almost beside the point. It's the erotic conquest that captivates them, and then God help you if you're not ready to deep throat their entire romantic fantasy.
I once had a secretary who gave up a lucrative assignment to work for me, her "role model." I was embarrassed to not be able to afford her regular rates, but she insisted the pay cut was nothing. She refused money for gas, or postage, or the bagels that she furnished my office with. For my birthday she gave me a little silver bell that she said I could ring "whenever you need me."
A few days later, she rang me at home and told me, sobbing, that she quit, and she'd never felt so disrespected in all her life. Why? She told me many reasons, none of which seemed truly compelling. I couldn't shake the feeling that I had scorned her unwittingly -- I hadn't used that little bell the way I was supposed to.
I was wrecked. I felt like a boor and a bad employer. I stared at her in box in despair. I don't know how long I sat in my dark basement office before the doorbell rang, and I heard my roommate at the top of the stairs giggling, "Uh, it's ANOTHER belated birthday present for you ..."
I went to the door to find a plump little pigeon of a girl dressed in a red bow and G-string with big brown puppy eyes and a note attached to her corsage. She whispered, "Marla sent me ... I'm yours to do with whatever you wish."
I looked into those puppy dog eyes and knew that my wishes were completely irrelevant. It was another damned "intern," and they won't let up until they've sucked you dry.
"I really can't fuck you right now -- do you have car fare home?" I pressed money and a sweater into her hands. She looked distraught, but I knew by now that you can't end these things fast enough. Somewhere there's a groupie heaven, but it can't be in the home of a working mother.