The Hooker Who Looked Like My Mom

A hot night, a chance encounter and a woman with a winning smile that a grandmother might bestow on a doting grandchild.

It was a sticky-hot night in Manhattan, and I had just had a long dinner with a prospective client. I left him at his midtown hotel and was walking the few blocks to my subway. I hadn’t had more than two drinks, but I could feel them.

The booze coupled with the heat made me a bit unsteady, so I walked carefully. By then I’d opened my jacket and loosened my tie. I was no longer dressed for business—not my kind of business, anyway.

Midway on my trek to West 50st Street, I became aware that someone was suddenly at my side, in step with me. “I recognize you,” she said with a kind of purr in her voice. “You’re obviously from out of town.”

I looked over at her, a woman with dyed hair and a stout figure. She looked to be about 60. “I live here, ma’am,” I told her. “I’m not an out-of-towner.”

“I’ve got a place over on 57th,” she said sweetly, continuing to match my strides. “You’re welcome to drop by, if you like.”  She smiled again, a winning smile that a grandmother might bestow on a doting grandchild.

“Thank you, no,” I said, quickening my pace. She seemed undaunted, though she quickly turned away. I moved on and never looked back.

While waiting for my train in the station’s steamy air, I recalled the hookers I’d seen in London, Paris, Toyko, Berlin, even on 10th Avenue, here in New York. All young and dressed provocatively. None of them looked at all like the woman who’d just approached me.

Listen, I didn’t feel bad for her; everyone’s entitled to do what has to be done to make a living. But I kind of wished I’d had the courage to see how the evening might play out.

♦◊♦

I mean, what would have happened if I’d said, “Yes, I’d like to drop by your place” and extended my arm. What would she have said as we walked north? Would we have discussed price? And when we got there—presumably to where she lived—would she have poured drinks and made small talk?

Then would she take me by the hand and lead me to her bed, undress me, and give me the greatest sexual release since that first time when I was a sophomore and couldn’t imagine it.

Abruptly, my thoughts turned darker: Would she deftly dump something in my drink to knock me out? Did she have an accomplice hiding in the bedroom or behind the drapes prepared to empty my pockets and appropriate my iPhone?  Was this woman a front for some mysterious criminal sect bent on kidnapping and holding me for ransom? Would I be tied up and left to rot in some damp basement—or in the trunk of a car?

By the time I boarded my train, I had worked myself into an even bigger sweat than the heat and humidity would have produced. Why had I been singled out? Other than looking tired and hot, did I seem lonely?  Desperate? Clearly this woman was targeting older men, and I certainly fit that category.

For some reason, I felt emotionally bruised by this experience—so much so that, a day later, on Fifth Avenue near the Metropolitan Museum, I recoiled when an Asian woman stopped me in my tracks. “Sir, I’m lost. Can you help me?” she asked.

Oh, boy, here we go again, I thought. But, no, this lady really was lost, and when I realized it, I began to chuckle, which kind of unnerved her. I sputtered as I gave her directions—she wanted to walk back to where she was staying—and was happy to see her turn and head exactly where I’d pointed her.

She didn’t invite me to drop by. I was definitely relieved.

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About Mervyn Kaufman

A consumer-magazine writer, Mervyn Kaufman is the author most recently of The Shamrock Way, the history of Arizona's biggest and most enduring food-service company, and coauthor of the Gary Stevens memoir, The Perfect Ride.

Comments

  1. I worked in a restaurant in Manhattan which had a communal room to change into our work clothes.
    As one of the men I worked with for years (and was close to) took off his shirt to change,
    I couldn’t help but notice a nasty-looking, huge scar in the middle of his back and asked him how it happened, as it looked like an unusual spot for surgery.

    “Got rolled in a whorehouse”, he told me. As I reeled from the thought of this man in such a place (I knew he was long-married) I stammered and asked him how it happened.
    He said he went to a massage business advertised in the classified section of a daily newspaper, where it was clear from the sexy photo that massage was not the only thing being for sale there.

    Once he was inside the room awaiting, er, service, a couple of big thugs burst into the room. One guy roughed him up to take his wedding band, a gold chain he wore and to wrestle his watch off his wrist while the other guy rifled through his pants for his wallet. Laying on the table naked (he was awaiting, uh, service) he felt completely ambushed and defenseless, but outraged that he was “set up” to be robbed. Instinct kicked in and he jumped off the table and fought them back. One of the men plunged a knife into his back before running off with his wallet and jewelry.
    No one in the establishment would call the police, (no surprise there) so he staggered out into the street and collapsed. He awoke in the hospital. He told me his life was touch-and-go for a week, as the knife punctured his lung.

    That this happened inside a real business advertised in one of our big newspapers always shocked me; the robbery was obviously an inside job.
    I imagined such things were more likely to happen in a scenario like you described: street hooker, dark alleys, unknown apartments.
    So, who knows, Mervyn….maybe your instincts to keep on walking were well-served!

    P.S.- Two of my male friends, both in their 50’s, were recently walking late at night in the same area you were in and approached by a woman who fit the identical description. Wonder if it’s the same woman?

    Thanks for sharing your well-written musings……Lili

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