One time, I picked up a prostitute. Seriously. This might be hard to believe (since I've sort of spent a lot of time on this site publishing obviously bullshit stories and swearing up and down that they were real), but this story actually is real. I was 19. I was living in South Jersey. I picked up a prostitute. She said her name was Alison. It was an accident. (I should've mentioned up front that it was an accident, but I didn't because I'm not very bright, I'm actually really stu- you know what? Just read on, you'll agree.)
In the winter of 2005, I was a freshman in college, going to school in South Jersey. Some nights, like this one night in January, I would drive around, bored. Not "let's get a prostitute and see what happens bored," but more "let's drive around for a few hours" bored, which is what I was doing the night before a huge snowstorm was supposed to hit town. It was around midnight, and I thought I was all alone on the road when I saw what I thought was a hitchhiker. A blonde, middle-aged, mostly toothless lady hitchhiker, standing on the side of the road. She wore a tiny little cap and some tiny little wind pants and a tiny little jacket. All in all, maybe the least effective snow outfit you could put together though, we will learn, effective in prostituting.
I had no real interest in picking up a hitchhiker, but when I passed by we locked eyes and she looked so sad and cold, and my little Daniel heart broke for her. I thought, What the hell, I'll give her a ride, make this my good deed of the week, I'll be a Good Samaritan. And at least it's something to do. (There is seriously nothing going on in South Jersey in the winter.)
It's Really Easy to Get One in Your Car (Especially if You're Dumb!)
For the uninitiated, let me be the first to tell you: Getting a prostitute into your car is easy as pie. I pulled up next to her, introduced myself and asked if she needed a ride, and she hopped in my car, which I took to mean "Yes." So that part was easy. Getting her out once you realize she's a prostitute, on the other hand, now that is difficult.
But we weren't there yet. I had just politely offered to take her for a ride, and she sat down next to me, with all of her potential germs, right in the passenger seat of my car (which, incidentally, has since been sold to a cousin of mine I don't particularly care for). We made idle chit chat, she asked me what I was up to, and I explained that I was a bored student at the nearby university, just driving aimlessly and looking for a fun evening. [As an aside, if you ever want to not have sex with a prostitute, I will say that picking one up and telling her that you're "bored and looking for fun" is probably one of the most misleading combinations of things you can do.]
She asked me what I was studying, and I said, "Pre Law," because that was better than the truth, which was "nothing." She asked questions about my make believe workload and laughed politely about a fake anecdote I'd told about a course I was taking, called "Law Class." When it dawned on me that we'd been talking - parked -- for about 10 minutes, I decided it was time to get moving. (I wasn't exactly trying to make a new friend and my schedule as a pretend law student was, as you can imagine, fairly demanding.)
"So, Alison," I asked, "where can I take you?"
"Anywhere you want."
Prostitutes Speak In Code
Here's why it's really easy to accidentally pick up a prostitute: To my knowledge, none of them will ever say, "I'd love a ride, you have a nice car, and by the way if you give me money I'll fellate you." They don't all dress in mini-skirts and tank tops (certainly not when it's about to snow, anyway), and they don't introduce themselves with handy names like "Prostitute Jill" and so forth. Which makes sense. Plenty of cops will go undercover, pretend to pick up a prostitute and then end up hauling said prostitute off to jail. Being subtle is how women like Alison make sure they don't incriminate themselves. As long as they never explicitly say up front that they want money in exchange for sexual favors, they haven't said anything that would give a police officer good reason to arrest them. The practice of leaving subtle clues and speaking only in double entendres makes for a nice, cerebral game of cat-and-mouse between cops and prostitutes, I'm sure, but it's potentially very confusing for naive idiots.
And that's me, by the way. I've mentioned before that I'm sort of really dumb right now, but I was much dumber at 19. Much. I was just an awkward idiot, the kind of person who thinks there's nothing weird about a gloveless woman standing on the side of the road at midnight in the middle of winter. So, while just about any rational human being would've thought her answer of "Anywhere you want" was off, in some way, I didn't. I didn't question her or force her out or do any other reasonable thing, I just smiled, like, "Tell me about it!"
The Slow End of Subtlety
I told her that I preferred to just drive her to wherever she lived, and she pointed out the window of the still-parked car, indicated a nearby motel and let me know that she had a room there. Some people would right at that moment conclude, "Ah, motel, that settles it, she's a prostitute," but I'm not one of those people. I mean now, don't get me wrong, I think everyone is a prostitute, but at 19, I didn't even find anything curious about the fact that she was hitchhiking 10 yards away from her motel, because being a 19-year-old male is sort of the opposite of being Professor X. While I just stared out the window, breathing out of my mouth instead of answering her, she told me we could also drive somewhere else or go to my place or, if I was interested, simply use the backseat of my car. And I thought, Well those are strange places for her to call "home."
And this was honestly the first time I thought something was wrong. Not when I saw the woman alone at midnight. Not when she eagerly hopped in my car. And not when she patiently listened to my stories about "Professor Judge" with great enthusiasm. It was only when she implied that I could take her to the back seat of my car, and even then I didn't totally know what was up. I didn't know what needed to be said, but I knew it was my turn to speak, so I just said, "Oh. No. That's OK," which at the time sounded like a really good answer. And then she said something that really struck me.
"You lookin' to have a good time tonight, hon?" Now I was catching on, because the only people who have ever said that sentence have been prostitutes in movies. And, I was slowly concluding, real life.
I had now stumbled up to reality, finally caught up, and was panicking. A bunch of words and phrases were popping into my head all at once. "Herpes" being one of them. "Remember that scene from Monster where the prostitute killed all those dudes? It was like that," being another, although I was hearing it in my brother's voice, as he delivered my eulogy.
I couldn't believe what was happening, because I thought prostitutes only lived in New York and HBO. There were so many questions I had, so many rules I didn't know. Was I now legally obligated to pay her for sex in accordance with ... prostitute law? I didn't know because I didn't even study real law. Oh, and speaking of law, want to know what else had me panicked?
Even if It Was an Accident, What Cop Would Believe You?
I guarantee you that everyone who has ever been caught with a prostitute has told a cop that they didn't know the woman was a prostitute. And I guarantee you that all of them were lying. And if this was part of some sting operation -- if a bunch of cops were staking out Alison and waiting to catch some unsuspecting John -- there would be absolutely no way to convince them that I wasn't soliciting sex from the prostitute whom I'd eagerly invited into my car.
It's Really Hard to Get Them Out of Your Car
I really thought that if I politely explained to Alison that this was just a hilarious misunderstanding, we'd laugh about it, and then she'd exit the car, both of us a little embarrassed and with a wacky story to tell our buddies and coven of prostitutes, respectively. But she didn't laugh and excuse herself, and she didn't apologize for the confusion, or anything. She stayed right where she was in my car, as if to say, "I totally get that you don't want to do this, kid, but what if I just had sex with you and you gave me money, and then we could talk about this later?"
She was persistent. When I said, "I've made a mistake," she said, "Well I'm here, something's gotta happen." When I said, "No, thank you," she said, "Come on, it'll be fun." When I said, "I really need to get going," she said, "But blowjob?" She asked me why I didn't like sex and I said, like a caveman, "Whoa, slow down there, I love sex, like, a bunch, it's- Oh, man, I've got so many different moves, it's really great, when I do it, my stuff works super good and everything, and I'm all about it. I do like sex." So she asked, "Good, then what's the problem?" Which, yes, was an intellectually sound question given the data I'd provided her.
Every second that we sat in my car together, I thought, was another second where cops could show up, or where her super-bacteria could jump from her crotch into my mouth, giving me face crabs and somehow ruining all of my scholarships (I'm really dumb). So I knew I needed something clear and direct to get her out of my car. Something like, "I don't want to pay you money for sex," but not so blunt and crass. She was a person, after all. I thought for a moment, and mustered up all of my wit and creativity.
"I don't want to pay you money for sex, please?"
And she didn't get out of my car, which terrified me, because that was really my only move. Instead, she said, "Look, kid, I just need like 10 bucks. I've got five kids at home, no milk, no bread, no cigarettes. Come on." My eyes lit up, because suddenly we were negotiating. Alison wasn't leaving until she got paid and I was more than happy to pay her not to have sex with me. Which I did ...
... with $12. I paid an astonishing $2 more than sex would have been. To this day, I don't know how I got talked up to 12 when she started the bidding at 10, but I just count that as another mystery of prostitute black magic.