Episode 1: Secret books and other tricks of the trade

Allison renounces the profession and makes Nancy the reluctant keeper of her client list.

Published July 12, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Saturday, July 3

Dear Diary,

Allison thinks I've thrown her book away. Last night, she met me at Starbucks, wearing loafers and a plaid skirt. With a strange look on her face, she shoved a manila envelope at my chest. "Here -- throw it away, I won't be needing it. Burn it."

"Why don't you just put it away -- hide it in case you change your mind?" I asked.

"Don't you get it? This is what's preventing me from having a normal life. I don't want it anymore. I'm ready to make a commitment. I'm facing up to my addictions. If you don't burn it for me, he will."

When Allison started telling me about Prostitutes Anonymous, that 12-step group for hookers, I cut her off. "I have to get out of here," I told her, "I'm going to meet my cousin for dinner."

Actually, I had an appointment with a new customer but you can't have a normal conversation with a reformed hooker.

When I told Jasmine about Allison's conversion, she wasn't very sympathetic. "Oh, she always starts dressing like that when she wants to quit," Jasmine announced. "That plaid kilt again! That silly bitch has an outfit for every occasion." Jasmine is a big believer in versatile clothing -- you should be able to transition naturally from a dinner date with your aunt to an appointment with your next client in exactly the same outfit, just change the scarf or undo an extra button. "I'm suspicious of anyone who is always in costume. Clothing should look like an extension of who you are ..." Jasmine's latest new gadget is an adjustable bra of some sort.

Try as I might, I can't put myself in Allison's penny loafers. First of all, I wouldn't let another girl so much as look at my book. Good fences make good neighbors. Nobody knows where I hide my address book, not even Jasmine. And why did Allison have to tell her boyfriend she has an address book? While I don't relate to Allison's guilt, I sort of understand wanting to please a boyfriend. But I agree with Jasmine: A guy doesn't deserve THAT unless he's supporting you. Why should a girl stop hustling for a guy who can't support her?

Allison has never been the sharpest eyebrow pencil at the makeup counter, but I can't just drop her. Jasmine's being horrible about it. "People aren't perfect," I told her. "You can't just abandon them when they become screwy."

"But if they refuse to take any of your advice, you have a right to say adios, amigo."

"That wasn't really my advice to tell her to dump her boyfriend -- it was your advice filtered through me, and I'm not convinced it was right for her."

"Never mind. She should have listened. That guy is a total waste of time and she should never have told him."

Jasmine keeps threatening to come over and look at poor Allison's address book but I've hidden it. I admit to having itchy fingers -- I wonder what sort of code she uses. Jasmine thinks Allison is too stupid to use a real code. But I have resisted the urge, so far, to peek. After all, I wouldn't want it done to me.

Can't wait for this holiday weekend to end, so we can get back to some semblance of business. With all these johns fleeing for the Hamptons, the city feels like a ghost town.

I finally stashed my winter suits and shoes in the hall closet, along with the obligatory cedar blocks. Last winter, I lost a Ralph Lauren cashmere sweater to the moths. Never again!

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Monday, July 5

Jasmine just called and is coming over to show me this new bra. She thinks I should get one too.

Tomorrow's entirely booked -- what a relief. Typically, there are three days in a summer week when you can work, before all the johns leave town. If you don't make your quota by Thursday, it's a drag. Friday might as well not exist. Well! Tuesday starts with a bang rather than a whimper.

Maybe Allison's conversion will increase business for the rest of us -- I'll have to point that out to Jasmine next time she starts sniping. I wonder when Allie will call. I made her promise to keep me informed of her whereabouts. For one thing, I think this new boyfriend sounds positively crazy. And if he wasn't crazy to start with, she has certainly made him crazy by telling him about the Monkey Business.

By Tracy Quan

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