Archive for October, 2010

Idle observations

L.A. is full of douchebags, and that’s never more evident than on my drives home from work. One one side of me, I’ll see an older guy in his Porsche with a cigar in his mouth listening loudly to Spanish guitar music, and on the other I’ll see a guy in his 20s in a modified sports coupe with mufflers that intentionally make it as loud as a jet engine.  I usually try to ignore them, since that’s probably the last thing they’d want anyone to do. 

My drive home yesterday started off pretty normal. First I saw a new lime green Corvette that was as ridiculous as it sounds.  A few minutes later, while sitting in traffic in the fast lane of the 101, a guy in a convertible pulled up to my right.  “Is he wearing…a captain’s hat?” I thought.  On closer inspection (which was easy since I was going about 0 mph), I saw that he was indeed rocking a captain’s hat.  “Wow,” I thought or maybe even said aloud, “That’s a douchey move.”  A second later, I looked to my left at the stopped traffic going the other way.  Next to me was a guy in his 30s who caught my eye because he had two perfect lines of eye black under his eyes.  It only took me a second to realize that he was probably wearing a costume for the last work day before Halloween.  “Oh, is that what Captain McDoucheypants is doing too?” I wondered.  I looked back to his vessel to see if there was a matching jacket or not, and the results were inconclusive.  I’m gonna guess that he was also in costume instead of personifying the “damn I’m good” feeling that a lot of people seem to have in this town, though I could very easily be wrong.  That probably tells non-L.A. dwellers all they need to know about this town: I couldn’t tell if someone was a typical arrogant prick or in costume.  Hey, at least we have the Lakers.

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When my friend “David” turned 12 or 13, he made the kind of odd choice to have his party at a restaurant called Cafe 50s. I say it’s kind of odd because I’m pretty sure the restaurant’s target demographic is people who actually lived in the 50s and know what they’re trying to replicate there. In any case, we got burgers, shakes, and fries, and spent a bunch of time asking his parents for change so we could play songs on the mini jukeboxes or try to grab some crappy toy with a mechanical crane. If I’m not mistaken, there was also a very anachronistic Ms. Pacman game there, but I could be making that up since it seems so illogical to me now.

After an hour or so of playing around while the adults ate at a separate table, a few of us went into the bathroom. “What’s that?” someone said, pointing to a plain gray box on the wall by the door. It had a slot for coins at the top, a small sign indicating that whatever it was cost fifty cents, and a slot at the bottom. Upon closer inspection, I saw a couple of faded letters with big spaces between them where their fallen letter comrades had once lived. There was a C, enough room for two missing letters, a D, then a few more open spots. I stared at it for a minute while the others speculated before I said authoritatively, “It said ‘Condoms.'” The room got quiet and they turned to me, to the box again, and back to me. “Are you sure?” “No, but what else could it be?”  They stared back at the box with wide eyes, trying to figure out if my mad word skills were accurate.  (Duh.)  Finally David spoke: “We’re gonna need more change.”

We agreed that in order to secure the needed half dollar, our money-seeking tactics had to be identical to how we previously asked so as to not arouse suspicion.  David got the first quarter from his dad pretty easily, and we hung out by the jukebox and pretended to push buttons for songs we knew we’d never hear.  A few minutes later, another friend asked his parents for a quarter.  And like that – we were in business.  We reconvened in the bathroom and David slowly put the quarters in the machine before turning the handle.  For a second it didn’t look like it was going to work, but then something appeared in the slot at the bottom.  David snatched it from the machine and held it out in his open hand; it was indeed the square wrapper of a prophylactic.  We took turns poking at the raised ring within the wrapper for a minute before realizing that there was nothing else to do.  I remember thinking that it wasn’t very exciting after all and that I’d prefer to hear Del Shannon’s “Hats Off to Larry” another time or two on the jukebox instead.

A couple of days later, David called me at home and got right to the point: “My parents found out about the condom.”  “How?” I asked, and I’ll never ever forget his reply: “I wore it to school.”  In his infinite wisdom, he put it on in the morning – I didn’t ask if he was in a state of arousal or not – and then told some people in a misguided attempt at bragging.  Someone told a teacher, and though he’d already thrown it away in the bathroom, he admitted it when confronted and spilled the whole story to his parents.  I asked why he would ever think of “wearing” it to school, and he said he was just curious.  I can understand that to some extent, and it’s not like he was anywhere near using it with another person, but…no, that’s just weird.

Later that night, I heard my mom on the phone and could tell that it was David’s mom telling her what happened.  A little later, she came into my room and confirmed as much.  “And you were the one who figured out what the machine was for?” she asked.  I told her I did, and explained about there only being two letters.  Though she tried to hide it, I could tell that she was pretty proud of my word puzzle skills.  Then it was her turn to say something that I’ll never forget: “How did you even know that word?  In my day, we just called them ‘rubbers.'”  Good to know, Mom.

That whole story came flooding back to me when I drove past Cafe 50s recently, and it had been years since I’d thought of that series of events.  In hindsight, I think David’s parents should have been glad that he was practicing safe schooling instead of going to junior high without protection.  One thing’s for certain: “Hats Off to Larry” still sounds great after all these years and makes me nostalgic for a time decades before I was born.

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A simple question

Is it just me, or does the inside of a toilet tank look just like a Rube Goldberg machine that I could’ve built for a 5th grade project?

(I already have my running “That’s Bullshit” list of posts; maybe I should do the same with “A Simple Question.”  We’ll see I guess.)

That’s bullshit: ATM edition

I’ve complained quite a bit in the past about people saying “ATM Machine” and “PIN Number,” but those are the faults of the people and not the machines themselves. This one’s all about the machine though. I go to the ATM right by my office more times than I’d like to admit, and recently it’s really begun to piss me off. You see, I’m an expert now. For example, my finger is ready and in place to push the “Yes” even before it asks me if I want a receipt. I’m that fucking good.

Does it bother me that no one in line has ever stopped me and said, “Wow, that was really fast – you’re awesome”? Not one bit; people tend not to talk around ATMs (though they’re obviously thinking that). What bothers me is the very last step of the process. My index finger on my left hand is ready to push “Take Card” instead of “Another Transaction” while my right hand waits by the slot to quickly snatch the card when it comes out. The screen comes up and my left hand springs into action, hitting the screen with a speed and accuracy usually reserved for snipers. The very moment that even half of my ATM card appears, my right hand snatches it out of the slot. So what’s my problem? It beeps. The fucking thing beeps at me like I’m going to forget my credit card. I honestly don’t think I could be any faster and yet it gets out two beeps – one before the card even appears, and one after I’ve already removed it. I understand wanting to remind people to take their cards with them, but I obviously don’t need that reminder (let alone two of them). If a card is sitting there for half a second, sure, go for it. But beeping at Speedy McCash before and after I masterfully take care of business? That’s bullshit.

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Badder grammar

I sometimes ask myself ridiculous questions.  This morning, I tried to nail myself down on this important topic:
What bothers me more, when people say, “Alls I need…” or “So I says….”?  It’s a tough call really, because if someone said either of those in a face-to-face conversation with me, I’m not sure my body would be able to stifle the little automatic cringe.
I have more of a history with one of the incorrect phrases.  In the greatest movie of all time, “Real Genius,” there’s a character named Lazlo Hollyfeld.  We’re told he’s super-duper smart, and we find out at the end that he’s the smartest person in the world (by one woman’s estimations at least).  Oh yeah, and he lives in a closet, but that’s not really relevant here.  Anyway, in a pivotal scene at a bar, the main characters are celebrating their successful completion of a five megawatt laser.  Lazlo asks what societal use it will have, and then he drops this bombshell on them: (paraphrasing but damn close I’m sure) “Alls you need is a big spinning mirror and you could vaporize a human target from space.”  Our heroes’ jaws drop realizing in horror the weapon they’ve created, which sets off the rest of the plot.  Even as a kid watching that scene, I couldn’t help but think that the word “alls” coming out of Lazlo’s mouth was a mistake.  It made him sound unintelligent, when they’d spent a good part of the movie trying hard to show us the exact opposite.  Someone should’ve caught that, right?

My main history with “So I says” has to do with a woman at job I had years ago.  She was fond of telling stories about the stupid people she spoke to on the phone throughout the day.  “He says, ‘I need to talk to the Dean right now,’ and so I says, ‘That’s impossible because he’s in Wisconsin.'”  I always sat there thinking, “What are you, a 30s gangster or something?”

So I’m torn.  I hear “Alls I need” more often that “So I says,” which makes it bug me more, but it reminds me of a movie I love, which is definitely a plus.  What do you all think?  I’ll have to give this more thought before picking a “winner.”  That’s right, I ask myself the tough questions.

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Workin’ 9-5

It’s no secret that I do computer repair for a living.  We frequently fix computer viruses.  Every once in a while clients come back claiming that we didn’t fix their computer virus completely the first time.  Usually the client is reinfecting themselves by continuing whatever behavior got them infected in the first place, but they’re usually indignant and blame us.  One such client called today, over a month after originally bringing it in, saying they haven’t even turned on their computer in a month, and when they finally did, it was overrun with pop-ups and unuseable.  Like for some reason we would ignore that behavior and just send it back to them.

He claimed we were scamming people out of money, charging to fix things, but not really fixing them and then charging them again when they brought it back.  Of course when he brought in the computer, he hadn’t cleared his internet history, so we saw that he had been using it daily for the last month.  That in itself is not so noteworthy, it actually happens a lot that clients will lie when they’re too embarrassed to admit their behavior.  What made this one stick out to me was such Craigslist gems in his history as “car bj,” “women seeking men,” and my personal favorite “seeking 6 to 9 cocks to stroke and suck at one time.”

Now, even if they were very small cocks, I contend that 9 is outright ludicrous.  Establishing that stroking is just something you do with your hands, then maybe you could do 2 average sized cocks in each hand, but that’s still 5 for your mouth.  Let’s agree that stroking is different than rubbing.  I think stroking means fingers have to curl around, right?  Even if they were small cocks, I don’t think you could do 3 per hand.  You’d have to form a pyramid of 3, could you do that with cocks attached to hips?  The max on sucking would have to be 4, right?  And they’d have to be long to converge in close enough oral proximity.

Anyway, I like that she/he gives a range, and that 6 is his/her absolute minimum.  If only 5 cocks are showing up, that’s not worth it, because where’s the challenge in that?

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I figured I may as well be blunt with the title of this post and get right to the point.  I hope that’s ok with you.  This post ended up being pretty long, so settle in.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was in Las Vegas on business for a couple of days.  I’ve been to Vegas way more times than I can count, and yet I’d never had any interaction with a prostitute (knowingly at least).  Because of some people with whom I associate, that all changed on this trip.  The names have been changed to protect the…parties involved.

I wrote about how I got lost on my way to a dinner.  I had planned on walking with an associate of mine, but he called and said he was running late.  “Just head over without me,” he said, “And we have 9 people now instead of 8 so let them know when you get there.”  “Oh, who’s joining us?” I asked.  “Well one person canceled, but Jerry’s bringing two girls.”  Call it naïveté, call it what you will, but I naturally assumed that it was two females who Jerry knew at our conference from another company.

When I accidentally walked into the wrong place (quite possibly the same place I had just left), I ran into Jerry and we walked over to the correct place together.  “Steve said you were bringing two women with you,” I said.  He laughed.  “Yeah, they’ll meet us there.  I was giving my number to someone last night, and this one girl was sitting nearby and wrote it down too.  She called me and asked if I wanted to hang out tonight, so she’s coming and bringing a friend.  I just hope Steve will help cover their cost because I’m only good for about half of it.”  That was enough information to cause my naïvetéto wear off rather quickly.

We waited in the bar area with a few other dinner guests until the whole party arrived.  Jerry went out to the front desk area to wait when two young ladies came in through a different entrance and started looking around.  “I bet that’s them,” I said to another guy, but he wasn’t sure.  Then Jerry came back and one of them lit up, said hi, and gave him a hug.  That’s right, I know my hos.  They introduced themselves to us as Heidi and Katherine, shook our hands, repeated our names, and smiled in an over-friendly way that made me uncomfortable.  I quickly picked up my drink with my left hand to show off my wedding ring, then immediately laughed at myself since I doubt that would’ve been a deterrent for them.  (By the way, I didn’t change their names since they may have been fake to begin with.  That’s fair, right? And I’m totally guessing on how they’d spell their names.  I’d probably be more accurate with Hydee and Kathrynne, but I’ll stick with my first spellings.)

While I was introducing myself to the other guests who had arrived, Heidi leaned in and said to Jerry, “Can we speak with you privately for a minute?”  “Ah, hammering out the fine points of the deal!” I thought.  “This is just like on tv!”  The hostess showed us the way to a big, round table and we took our seats.  I was on the complete opposite side of where we left open chairs for the working ladies, which I both liked and disliked.  On one hand, I wasn’t very comfortable around them and appreciated the distance.  On the other, this was new territory for me and I wanted to hear what kinds of conversations they were going to have.  A woman from another company at the conference was sitting next to me (I’ll call her Dawn) and quietly asked who the two women are.  Since Jerry hadn’t been the least bit secretive about it, I told her the truth.  She laughed pretty hard and recounted the conversation she’d just had with Heidi.  It went something like this:

Dawn: So are you two in marketing also?

Heidi: Um, sort of.  I guess you could say that.

Dawn: Oh, what company do you work for?

Heidi: You ask a lot of questions!

Needless to say, I was pretty damn interested in seeing how this meal would play out.

Steve is kind of a big shot, and I know him well enough that I can make fun of him from time to time.  So after he ordered a bunch of appetizers (including a beautiful seafood tower) and another round of drinks for the table, I was watching as he spoke with Katherine.  I couldn’t hear him, but she alternated between laughing and making somewhat shocked faces.  Then I heard this unbelievable nugget from him: “You see, I’m in the business of selling things on tv.  Back in the day, people tried selling really expensive things, but that didn’t work.  The better idea is to give something away as a free trial, and then once they like it…” I decided the time was right for me to enter the conversation.  “Gee, where are you going with this, Steve?” Heidi answered: “I know where he’s going, and that’s not going to work for us.”  She smiled when she said that, but it was also clear that her business model didn’t support his “free trial” idea.

“Katherine,” I said, “If you can try to remember the three most outlandish things he says, I’d love to remind him of them tomorrow.”  She smiled and said she’d try her best.  Then Heidi nodded at me to get my attention.  I looked at her, and she mouthed something while tilting her head toward her fellow lady of the night.  “Excuse me?” I asked.  “I think you like Katherine,” she said.  On cue, Katherine gave me a faux-shy smile that she didn’t really pull off.  “Um, I’m sure she’s a very nice young lady,” I said, and then I immediately began a conversation with Dawn (the non-working woman) to my right.   “I’m pretty sure that was my last conversation with them,” I told her, and she agreed that that was a good call.

By the way, I’d been rudely texting at the table with my lovely wife the entire time, giving her a play-by-play of the event.  A guy named Dave sitting to my left was also texting, but as it turned out, it was with Katherine across the table.  She was asking what he was doing later, and he was trying to remain as noncommittal as possible while still keeping the e-conversation going.

At this point, I got up and went to the bathroom.  On my way back, I hoped that I wouldn’t run into the pair of ladies heading to the bathroom.  Maybe I’m too considerate, but I didn’t want them to waste any efforts trying to convert me into a customer when I had zero intention of that actually happening.  Fortunately, that didn’t happen.  When I got back to the table though, they weren’t sitting there anymore.  I figured I had just missed them and mentally wiped my brow in relief.  As it turns out, they weren’t in the bathroom at all.  During my brief time peeing out some of the alcohol I’d been imbibing, I missed a fight between Jerry and his…employees.  Apparently, they thought they had been clear that they were charging him by the hour, regardless of what activity was occurring during said hour.  Jerry had yelled at them, saying that he’d given them $1,000 already and that they should be happy to sit and have a nice dinner and drinks with us.  While Heidi and Jerry argued, Katherine apparently went up to Steve and asked if he could help cover their fees.  “No offense honey,” he said, “But I can find plenty of pretty girls who won’t charge me to take them out for a nice dinner.”  The two women stormed out, and Jerry called the waiter over to cancel the entrees they had ordered.  And I missed all of that!

Fortunately, Dave kept texting with Katherine during the meal.  She said that they were so embarrassed by how Jerry had yelled at them, but that Dave seemed nice and they’d like to hang out with him.  “Just so you know, we’re very high class.  $500 each,” she wrote.  I think telling someone you’re “very high class” before listing your rates for sex go together very nicely, don’t you?  Dave told her he wasn’t interested in a very polite way, and we all had a lovely rest of the meal.

But oh, we’re not done yet, friends.  We had a party to go to after dinner, hosted at a nightclub by a company I’ve worked with off and on for years.  Jerry and a few others went in a different direction, saying they needed to stop by a separate party first.  A friend of a colleague who I’ll call Mark asked if we could stop his hotel (which was mine too) for a minute while he ran up and got the ticket he needed to get in.  We were fine with that, so he said just to wait in the bar near the elevators and have a drink.  I’d had enough to drink by then that I was fine (especially knowing I’d have one or two more at the party), and no one else felt like ordering anything, so we just kind of mingled at the bar.  Dave started chatting with a young lady who had smiled at him while sitting at the bar.  “What are you drinking?” he asked her.  “Just a Coke,” she said.  In my head, I thought something like, “HOOKER! HOOKER! HOOKER!”  It was three things that set off my whore alarm (whorlarm?): she was sitting alone, she was biding her time by drinking something non-alcoholic, and she smiled at Dave.  Mark came down and introduced himself to the attractive blonde who had joined our group, and she said her name was Nicole.  Being the gentleman he is, he invited her to come to the party with us.  As it turns out, he’d secured a few extra entrance tickets in case he needed them for a situation just like this.  She paused to consider his offer, and he said, “Come on, it’ll be fun.”  “Ok,” Nicole said, and we moved as a group to the XS nightclub.

On the walk, Mark leaned over to me and asked if I thought she was a working girl or not.  “You have more experience in this than I do, but I totally think so.”  “Let’s find out,” he said.  “Hey Nicole, you out in Vegas with some friends?”  “Nope, just me.”  “Just you?  And when did you get in?”  “About three weeks ago,” she answered.  He looked back at me and simultaneously winked and nodded.

Once at the party, most of the group dispersed, leaving me with just Mark and Nicole.  There was a live band and they were huddled pretty close to each other, so I couldn’t hear everything they were saying.  I heard that she was from Omaha and that she had a two and a half year old son, but that was about it.  Mark was showing her pictures on his phone, laughing loudly at jokes (his own probably), and hamming it up.  I chatted with some other people for a while, had a couple of drinks, talked with a different group (including Jerry, who’d made it from the other party), and basically counted down the minutes until I thought it was reasonable for me to leave.  Shortly before hitting that magical time, Mark called me over.  “I’m going to the bathroom for a minute – entertain her until I come back.”  Awesome.

So I sat down and made the smallest of small talk for a couple of minutes.  Then I said, “You missed quite a dinner earlier tonight.”  “Oh he told me about it – sounds crazy,” she replied.  “Yeah, I guess our friend and the two ladies thought they had an arrangement but weren’t on the same page.”  “Guess not,” she said, before adding, “I never charge for dinner.”  Confirmation!  Now that she’d opened the door, I wanted to get as much info out of her as I could about life in her profession.  “Oh no?” I asked.  “No, if someone wants to take me out to dinner or a show or something, that’s different than what I’m getting paid for.”  Somewhere Jerry was waving an angry fist in the air.

“What else can I ask her?” I wondered.  She said her ex was in Las Vegas and that they had joint custody, so that’s why she moved out there.  After talking about kids a bit longer (and showing her pictures of mine), I felt comfortable introducing another topic.  “So you moved here from Omaha?  What were you doing there?”  “I was dancing at a couple of clubs.  Just dancing though, not…this too.”  “Oh, was that a hard transition for you once you got here and started doing…this?” I asked, using her terminology.  “Not really, I mean entertaining people is entertaining people,” she replied.  I can’t say that I agree with her on that stance, but she kept on talking: “I’m dancing here too.  I have two jobs, one at Sapphire and one at Rick’s, but if I have someone set up for this, I won’t go in.”  “Hold on,” I said, “You’ve been here for three weeks and you already have two jobs?”  She gave me a “duh” look and said, “It’s not hard.  You walk down the stage one way, take off your clothes, and walk back.  Actually, I just took off my top.”  “And that was enough to get the jobs?”  She gave me the “duh” look again.

A little while passed, and she asked me if I thought Mark was coming back.  “Yeah, I do,” I said.  “Knowing him, he probably ran into a few people on the way to the bathroom and he’ll run into a few more on his way back.”  That seemed to put her at ease a little.  “I’m pretty sure he’s interested, but he mentioned his girlfriend so I’m not positive,” she said.  “I can’t help you there,” I said. I texted Mark and asked if he was coming back.  Shortly thereafter, he replied with, “2 min.”  I showed Nicole and she smiled.  I didn’t see dollar signs in her eyes like in cartoons, but they were probably there.

The conversations get a little more serious after that.  She told me that she wasn’t working for anyone (i.e. a pimp, I suppose), so she got to keep 100% of what she earned.  “Does that make it scarier for you though?” I asked.  “Not really.  I have a friend who I can call at any time and she’ll be anywhere in a moment’s notice.  And if I don’t feel completely comfortable, I’ll leave.  Even if it’s in a hallway with a guy on the way to his room, if something in my gut says it’s not right, I’m out of there.  If all else fails, I have some ways to protect myself.”  She patted her small silver purse while saying that last line.  I went for it: “What do you have in there?”  “Everything.”  “You have a gun in there?”  She nodded and said, “But I’ve never had to even take it out and I hope I don’t have to.  I have a few other things that I’d reach for first if anything ever came up.  So far I’ve been fine relying on my gut instincts.”  I assumed that “other things” meant pepper spray or maybe even a knife, but left that alone.  “Wow, well please stay safe,” I said.  And I really meant it.

“Do you want me to text him again?” I asked.  “In a minute,” she said.  Then I thought, “What the hell?” and pushed all my chips into the middle of the table.  “Just to be clear, I’m not interested – I’m happily married.  I’m just curious, if you don’t mind sharing, what your services typically cost.  Or is there a sliding scale?”  “It ranges from client to client based on what they want,” she said, and I dropped that topic.  A minute later, her phone buzzed.  She held it up to me and asked, “Is that his number?”  I looked at her screen and saw two things.  First, it was a number that I recognized as Mark’s.  Second, it was his message to her: “I made a wrong turn and I’m going back to my room.  Please join me.”  Then he listed his room number.  “Yep, that’s him,” I said, and she put her drink down in preparation to go make some money within her range. Since I was staying in the same hotel, I said I’d walk with her there.  We chatted some more and got into an elevator together.  My floor was first, and as I got out, I told her it was nice meeting her, to have fun, and to be safe.  On the walk to my room, I sent Mark a text of my own: “She’ll be there in just a minute – have fun.”

The next morning, two funny things happened.  First, I ran into Jerry and asked how he was doing.  “Mark had some girl text me with her number at like 3am seeing if I wanted company, but I was already asleep.”  I guess Mark was trying to help out a friend after the first two ladies didn’t work out.  How sweet.   The second funny thing was when I ran into Mark a few hours later.  “Have fun last night?” I asked.  He smiled and tried to brush it off.  “She actually seemed like a nice woman,” I said.  “Which one?” he asked.  “Nicole…why, was there more than one?”  He looked like he was thinking about whether or not to answer that before responding somewhat sheepishly with, “Yeah, I called Katherine too.”  “At the same time?” I asked.  Even more sheepishly: “No, about half an hour after Nicole left.  I get stupid when I have too much to drink, and I had way too much to drink.”  I let that all sink in for a moment before asking if he had a good time with his prostitutes.  “Honestly, I only remember about a quarter of it, but yeah, I think I had fun.”

We walked together to the main ballroom in which the convention was being held, and I got some more information from him on the night.  Turns out Katherine had given him her number too, so she was angling for business even more than I thought.  I guess she sensed my “aw hell no” stance on further interaction with her and didn’t even try.  I also asked about Nicole’s pricing, since he was being open and she didn’t give me a figure before.  “I offered her $1,000 to stay the whole night, but after about an hour, I was ready for her to go and she only took $500.”  “And then you called Katherine?”  “I showered and was going to go to bed when I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not done after all’ and gave her a call.”  “And she was $500 too?”  “Yeah, I think so.”  Way to go, man, way to go.

So that, everyone, is my long (and only) story about interacting with prostitutes and the fun that ensued.  During my “information gathering” stage of the night, I paused once and asked myself why I was so interested in getting as many facts and stories as possible.  The answer came back pretty clearly: an eventual blog post.  Who needs to spend $1,000 on one night having sex with strangers when you can write about other people doing that for free?  Mark may disagree, but I think I come out way ahead in that scenario.  To hookers!

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