Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gonorrhea on my Mind

My first morning on the coast a pretty young woman introduced herself in the hotel lobby. She reached out to shake my hand and looked me in the eye. My last night at the hotel we met again on the stairs to the second floor. Her room was next to mine. We started to talk, on my balcony, and one thing led to another. My first hint that something was different about this girl was when she got up from the bed after a quick fuck.
“May I get dressed now?”
She spoke as if she was a asking if it was a good time to take away the dishes.
She had a shower, came back and sat down on the second bed in the room. So it hadn’t been my charm, good looks or savoir-faire. She was a pro. Not that there’s anything wrong with professionals, it’s just that business wasn’t on my mind that evening.
We hadn’t used a condom, poor judgment under the best of circumstances and particularly unfortunate now. It was my last few hours on the coast, a bus headed into the mountains at midnight and instead of packing and looking forward to the trip—breathing the clear Andean air—we were sitting across from each other in a hotel room, me and a sex worker, a discussion looming about healthcare and wages. It might just as well have been a business negotiation.
It was a business negotiation.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m protected.”
She described her contraceptive measures in detail. “I foam down there,” were her exact words. 
My pants were on the bed. The only money in my pocket was fifty soles set aside for expenses crossing the border. With a little encouragement the lady got up, curled her fingers around the cash and moved, after a firm but gentle push, out the door.
“The next time you have to say something.”
“I usually charge a hundred!” she responded.
She bent over to pull on her sandals and after another gentle push she stumbled outside and down to her room. Later, waiting for the bus, nervous and depressed my mood couldn’t get any worse as a sense of gloom began to settle on my soul.
If she had any sexually-transmitted diseases—gonorrhea was on my mind—the symptoms would make themselves known, right? Like being in an automobile accident or an airplane crash—some kind of natural disaster or freaking epidemic—even if you don’t get infectedpaying for sex leaves an anxious feeling, a kind of unease not just if you forget to use a rubber.

  A breeze came up and my mood on the beach that night changed again. It reached the other extreme.
               My chest swelled and lungs filled with air. Began to feel pretty good, actually.
 Waiting for the bus, sitting on the curb of Mancora’s main drag as cool air washed in from the sea a different feeling came over me, a kind of glow, a gentle buzz like taking a shot of whisky when it’s really cold outside.
 Especially if it’s been a while since the last time.
 This had been that kind of “zipless” uncomplicated sex that men are supposed to like. It certainly started feel good to me. No need for a telephone call the next day, or dinner, no movie either before or after the main event, no flowers to send—the emotional commitment was satisfyingly low. The only issue was price.
            The Peruvian girl had just made even a few hours on the hunt in a bar back home seem schoolboyish by comparison. That must be why paying for sex is so attractive to guys. Not because it’s degrading to women, as feminists argue.
Because it’s so liberating to men.  

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