I knew I shouldn’t—which is why, I thought, I maybe should.
To be precise, he’s a client of the daycare center where I work, the dad of one of the kids. He’s married. His wife is hot, especially for her age, which is 40. She has curly red hair and half a dozen piercings and a tattoo sleeve with the Virgen de Guadalupe surrounded by flames. She likes to ask about my ink, which I don’t like to talk about but I was going along with it because if she liked me, I thought, that might make it easier for her husband to get away with fucking me sometime.
I wouldn’t pay any attention to him normally; he has a receding hairline and bad teeth. But he has the confidence of someone who’s pretty rich and doesn’t especially care too much whether you respond to his flirtation because there are a million more where you came from. I know there aren’t a million more like me, though—at least not in his world. I have big eyes and I’m just a little pudgy in just the right places and I’m a well-practiced flirt and I’m not stupid. Plus, I’m extra forbidden because I work a the daycare and his wife kind of loves me. So I knew he’d do pretty much whatever I wanted him to.
I let him take me out to dinner on December 26. He suggested it, of course, said something about thanking me for taking care of his daughter, how his wife liked me too, whatever. All I heard was what he was saying, which was, let’s fuck. I got off at 3:00, and his mom was picking his kid up after work to have a sleepover. His wife was out of town. I told him I’d meet him at Caruso’s steakhouse, where the steaks are like $80. I didn’t wait for his answer.
I don’t even need to tell you about dinner. I put on my one nice dress, he bought me five drinks and a steak, we talked about his work and my apartment and light politics and whatever. Obviously I did not mention Dave, and he didn’t mention his wife.
After dinner we stepped out the door of the restaurant and into the lobby of the adjoining hotel. Immediately, I knew what I was going to do. I gave him a hug tight enough for me to feel his boner and I left him standing there, blue-balled. I laughed as I texted Dave to tell him I was coming over, so he should run out and get me a pack of cigarettes.
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I had to work the day after Christmas, because I work at a daycare and parents gotta work. So do I, via needing rent/booze/cigs. So I put in the early shift, from 7:00 to 3:00.
People are always surprised when they hear I work with kids. They think I should hate kids, or at least not have any patience for them. Some kids I hate, yeah, but working with kids is a good job.
Kids are simple. There are a few basic things that they need, and once you’ve been around them long enough, you learn how to figure out pretty quickly what any given kid needs at any given time. Working at a daycare is actually not unlike working as a server: sometimes it gets crazy, but basically you get to spend all day making people happy. All you need to do is take care of the basics—carry the food, play with the kids—and fix any problems that arise, most of which are pretty simple to fix. You stay on your feet, you don’t get bored, and you don’t take your work home with you.
People in my real life, outside of work, are too fucking complicated and hard to please. Like Dave—he said he just wanted me to be me, but he didn’t really mean that, because obviously I was a total asshole to him. It was like he both unconditionally loved this person—me—who was treating him like a piece of dirt, but he also wanted me to get my shit together and start behaving like a normal girlfriend. But I wasn’t going to do that—not then, not for him. That seemed pretty obvious, but he wasn’t going to leave. And I liked having him around, but also felt kind of guilty all the time.
I’ve often thought I’d make a great whore. I did take money for sex once, which is a story that I’m not going to get into right now—the short story is, I met this guy at a party and we started joking and then he pulled out his wallet, maybe still half-joking, and I was like, why the hell not?—but it was actually some of the best sex I’ve ever had. It was so simple. I was fucking him because he paid me. There were no emotions involved—it was just sex. I’m not about to go putting my pussy out there on the street, but one of those high-end situations? I’m just going to say that I’ve thought about it.
For now, anyway, I’m still doing the daycare thing. At work, I get to be a clean, simple, idealized version of myself. It’s really me at work, yeah, but it’s a me who has all her decisions made for her. There’s no question as to whether you’re going to change that kid’s diaper—of course you are, because it needs changing and her parents are fucking paying you to deal with that shit.
Some day maybe I’ll just turn into the person I am at work…I’ll be that person all the time. Pragmatic, compassionate, composed, consistent. And someday maybe I’ll have great sex without sort of half-wishing that I was just getting paid for it.
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I woke up Christmas morning on Mandy’s couch. The TV was turned to the fireplace channel.
My head was telling me that I’d upheld my reputation for partying, which was physically painful but emotionally soothing. We’ll call what I had a “hangover,” but basically I was still drunk. Dave was sitting on the floor with his head lying on the couch, trying to pretend he was asleep. I poked him, and he pretended to wake up.
“Oh,” he said, smiling, “hey.” He looked like hell, which made me happy.
“Did you sleep on the floor?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied disingenuously, like he was surprised at himself. “I guess so.”
“Why did you do that?” I asked. I knew why he’d done that.
“It was easy,” he said. It had been hard. He’d probably hardly slept at all. Someone had put a blanket over me, but he didn’t have a blanket at all, and it was drafty on the floor. He stood up and sat on the couch, putting his hand on my hip. I could tell he was proud of himself.
“You know what I dreamed about?” I asked.
“I dreamed you cheated on me with Mandy.”
“Whatever. You want her. You told me once.”
He sighed and looked down. I knew he hated this. “That was only because you made me. You wanted to talk about other people we wanted. Remember?”
“Yeah, I remember. I did want to know. And now I know.”
“You know I wouldn’t actually cheat on you.”
“It wouldn’t be a big deal if you did,” I said, “as long as it wasn’t with Mandy. If you slept with Mandy, we’d have to break up.”
Dave sighed again and looked out the window. I liked his stubble. I liked to see him looking like shit. I patted his hand. “You’d better go,” I said.
“You want a ride to your mom’s?”
“No,” I said. “Mandy can give me a ride.”
“Okay,” said Dave. He hesitated. I knew he really wanted to give me a ride, but I wanted him to go. “Well,” he said, “I’ll call you later. Okay?”
“Merry Christmas, sweetie.”
“Merry Christmas, Dave.”
He leaned over to kiss me. I let him.
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