Sunday, July 13, 2008

For Sale

Everyone is for sale, and each of us willingly and by our own terms. Some of us (very few) are willing to sell our bodies. Some of us, our souls. And most of us, by virtue of having to make an "honest" living, our time.

This past weekend has been a very disquieting one for me. Coming into it in a weakened state from treatments earlier in the week, I found out only on Thursday that the theme of Richard's birthday party this year was Bordello. Hooker. Whore.

This is a theme of a party that I would expect out of high schoolers or even college age kids, but from full fledged adults? I was dismayed.

It's not that I have a moral objection to the trade of Prostitution. My feelings are much more complicated than that. You see, I have a family member that played an active role in the adult entertainment industry for quite a number of years. Extremely mentally ill, she was also subjected to abuse (physical and emotional) far beyond that of just her defecit. If I had to qualify what she experienced, I would have to say that it was pretty-much the same thing that the obese have suffered. It was certainly similar to my own background.

That's the thing about Adult Industry Entertainers. Everyone - at least in California or at a minimum Hollywood - says that it is a victimless crime. It is not. The entertainers themselves are the victims and they - based on the experience of having met them - are too emotionally ill to recognize what is being done to them. They are so desperate to change their personal histories that they relive it over and over and over again, hoping to have a different outcome. Of course they don't, and the cycle continues. At least until they are too old or broken down to pursue it anymore and then they are cast aside for the next generation.

Having been asked to show up as a "hooker with class" at Slimmons, I responded (and I again recognize that I have given up my right to have an opinion there and know that I may be asked to leave by virtue of this blog post) that "is there really a way to sell your body for strangers to discharge bodily fluids over in a classy manner?" Yes, some prostitutes wear fancier clothing, are better educated, command a higher price, and are even more discrete about what they do, but fundamentally it is the same thing. They are prostituting themselves, and I doubt that they understand the full implications of what they are doing, at least as they are doing it. Some figure it out later, and have a difficult time living with themselves.

I agonized over what to do about the situation. Should I show up and go along with the theme? Should I just stay home and pretend to be ill? Should I make a statement when I - for reasons that I am not discussing right now - do not have the right to have an opinion on anything that goes on at Slimmons? In the end, I went in the least prostitute-like fancy clothing that I owned. Partially because of Slimmons politics. Partially because there were people who were coming to the party who I have never met in person and who wanted to meet me (and I them) badly. Partially out of morbid curiosity. I feel like I sold my soul.

I will give you that it turned out to be a cartoonish event rather than a full representation of what the 'industry' is really like. I had the feeling that I was pretty-much the only one there that was disturbed by the premis. But all I could think was that we were selling out our sisters and brothers in abuse, those who have experienced the same past and expressed it in a different format, without even a thought to the pain that they must feel. And given that we have partaken in such blatant disregard and disrespect, do we now have the right to protest when others make fun of us, fat people? I feel like, by virtue of having shown up, I sold my soul.

It wasn't just the party that upset me, either. Time is a precious commodity to me too. There was a woman who I have spent some time with on prior trips who came in for it. I have some stark things in common with her and also recognized her for being very insecure, and since she seemed to be a nice person underneath the bluster, I was happy to dedicate some to her.

She is purportedly very wealthy. She does spend money like she has it, but whether it is real and inexhaustable or if she's blowing through a fortune and ultimately will end up like Ed McMahon is anyone's guess. I don't know her well enough to ask, even as I am concerned about the latter scenario. I have known very few people who could throw money around like her and get away with it forever.

Anyway, we were supposed to get together late last week. We set a time and date, and also a time to confirm. (My health is such that last minute confirmations are necessary for almost all social engagements.) When I called to confirm, she had made a beauty appointment and was going to be a couple hours later than we had originally planned. To me, that was fair. I was unable to commit earlier and to expect her to sit around 'picking her nose' if I was unable to get together would not make me much of a friend.

I got a call from her at around the time that we were to meet. Her appointment was taking longer than expected, but she would be over in another hour or so. Again, I understood that. Not a problem.

But the hour passed, then another, then another and another. Eric came and went... while he was here, I told him that I believed that I was being stood up. Finally, around 5:45 in the afternoon, I left a rather sucinct message on her phone, telling her that I presume that we were off since I knew that she had another engagement planned for the evening. With people that I know she considers more influential than I because of their 'business contact.' I heard back at around 6:30 with an apology, and an explaination that she had to run because she needed to by R- a present before the evening's activities took place.

All I wanted to do was get off of the phone anyway. And not discuss it again. She was at the party on Saturday, and indeed tried to apologize to me. But I didn't want to talk about it at the time. It hurt too much. Of all the commodities that can be stolen from us, time is the only thing that can never be replaced.

Time is precious to me anyway; I have very few hours in which I am not too ill to pursue activities that normally would have to go by the wayside. It was not that she didn't make it to our engagement. I could have lived with that. But the idea that she had such little respect for me that a phone call could not have been made to release me from the obligation when it became clear that she could not make it is repugnant. I am not one of her hired helpers who is paid to wait around for one of her whims. I am not the type of person who is friendly for the sake of presents or monies or contacts. Like I said, my time is something that I give with thought, and sparingly, and I feel like I've had something valuable stolen.

But do I have the right to feel that way? I'm not completely sure. After all, I sell my time in my creative pursuits. When I sell a piece of jewelry, or even when I am giving it as a gift, it is not as much the finished object that is the focal point. It is the time and creative energy that I put into it. So just because I did not have the intent to make money on our liason, does that give me the right to be upset that it didn't happen? After all, she knew that I was available to her and if she is as insecure as I suspect, just the idea that I would want to associate with her - even and especially with no monitary expectation in return - should be a pay-off in and of itself. In good feelings that I did the right thing... went down the high road.

I do think that I am in the right for being upset, but if I am, then why do I doubt myself? I've proven that I am willing to sell my soul by virtue of my attendance at the party. I've proven that I'm willing to sell my time by having a job, a career, a creative business. Am I now riding a moral high horse and am afraid that I am going to fall? Or maybe I'm afraid that the only thing that's left (and I already dressed the part) is to sell my body?

2 comments:

Claudia said...

Laura,

You got stood up. Plain and simple. It is one of the rudest thing that a person can do to another person.It is done without any thought for the "standee". I'm sorry it happened to you.

As to whether or not you have "the right" to be upset doesn't matter because if you're upset, you have the right. I would have been upset also. So much to do, so little time.

As far as the party goes, yeah, it was in bad taste but was probably not completely thought through when the theme decision was made. I think you handled yourself well once again.

Don't sweat the small stuff. :)

Love ya,
Claudia

Ang said...

Laura,
You have the right to be upset on both platforms.

and I am so sorry..I hate being stood up..

given what you have explained I could have said did she have anxiety in meeting with you? I know that I'm having it and I don't know why? I know that I truely want to spend time visiting with you but scared at the same time, because I don't want to be an imposition to you and I know to a degree how sick you are and don't want to cause more misery for you. I want you to be as comfortable as possible.

I think Claudia is right.

Please don't beat yourself up over this.

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