She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties;
Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!—
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child. – Rudyard Kipling, “The Female of the Species”
Yesterday I talked about three mothers who were inspired to enter prostitution by maternal necessity; I chose their stories as the best illustrations of my point about Madonna and whore coexisting in all normal women rather than mutually excluding each other as in the common fallacy. But this is not to say that maternal instincts are weaker in other whores, even those who are childless; as Kipling points out in the poem quoted above, when a woman has no children of her own she tends either to sublimate those instincts or to direct them toward creatures (human or otherwise) who are not her biological children. And I’m certainly no exception; though I was prevented by a uterine disorder from carrying a pregnancy to term, the more perceptive among you have probably noticed that I tend to mother younger women who need it in addition to behaving very much along the lines described by Kipling where my convictions are concerned.
Some of the girls I “adopt” are “broken dolls”; Marilyn, whom I discussed at length in my column of August 27th, was a perfect example of the type (though she was by no means the first and almost certainly won’t be the last). But most have no greater problems than anybody else except for the lack of a maternal figure, which of course dovetails with my own tendency to mother anybody who will stand for it. One of these was Paula, whom I’ve mentioned several times before; she was an orphan who lived with her grandmother, and since she liked and respected me it was only natural that I started falling into a maternal role for her. Paula had one of the prettiest faces of any girl I ever employed and a lovely, slender body; she was a week short of her eighteenth birthday when she first applied (she looked so young I asked to see her driver’s license), so I made her wait a week to start. She was an absolute star for almost a year; she was sweet, friendly, dependable, and actually sought and heeded my advice! I tended to be unusually protective of her (such as by prescreening her calls more rigorously than usual) and she would not work for anyone else but me despite several requests from Doug; I even helped her move twice, the second time to my own apartment complex. Eventually, though, she got involved with the two things guaranteed to ruin a promising escort’s career, namely drugs and a useless excuse for a man (though I believe the former came along with the latter). I cried the night Grace told me on the phone that she had fired Paula for stealing calls, though I had seen it coming weeks before. Despite her living in the same small apartment complex as I did we never spoke again; she was obviously too ashamed of herself to face me, and it wasn’t long before she moved out. Like Marilyn, I think of her often and wonder whatever became of her.
The one girl with whom I had the strongest maternal connection wasn’t an escort at all, though my being one eventually ended up helping her out. I first met Denise (as I will call her) when I was a librarian and she was just a little girl enrolled in the summer reading program; she was often in the library with one of her parents or the other, and though I noticed her as a pretty and intelligent child we had no particular connection at that time. That changed in the summer of 1995, soon after her 13th birthday, when I found out she had lost her mother in a terrible accident. Though I had only known the woman as a regular library patron, we had always been friendly and so my heart went out to her daughter, now a young woman entering a time when she most needed a mother. This was even more true because her father was the neglectful sort who rarely knew or cared where she was or what she was doing, and her other relatives lived in another state. She essentially had no adult role models at all, much less a positive female one, so it was only natural that I take her under my wing and do my best to help her across some very rocky emotional terrain.
And rough going it was, too; Denise seemed unable to acknowledge the fact of her mother’s death and like most 13-year-olds had no real understanding of the extent of the damage her father’s neglect would cause (such as her losing her virginity to a much older boy at far too young an age). She was quiet and secretive (a trait no doubt inherited from her father) and though she loved and trusted me would often neglect to tell me things she suspected I might disapprove of, such as experimentation with drugs and involvement with an abusive boy. Eventually she went into a lesbian phase (unsurprising considering that like me she had always been bisexual, but unlike me had some very bad experiences with males), which turned out to be a very positive thing for her because a lot of the stuff she was ashamed of had to do with males. Our relationship therefore grew much closer during this period; she felt free to talk about her girlfriends with me as she had never talked about her boyfriends, and never batted an eyelash when I moved from stripping to escorting during her senior year. By the time she graduated from high school (with a full scholarship to a prestigious New Orleans university) she seemed to be coping with her problems in a much healthier manner, and just after her graduation I gently urged her not to give up on males entirely; considering how quickly she took the suggestion I think she was already leaning that way and just needed someone to tell her that it really was OK to have relationships with both.
By autumn she had a new boyfriend and he, Grace and I helped her to move into the dorm. But within a few days she called me on the phone, nervously dancing around a request she clearly wanted to make. In response to my prompting she explained that though her scholarship covered all of her tuition, the dorm and other expenses had come to more than expected and she therefore ran out before buying all of her books. I asked how much she needed, and she squeaked “Two hundred dollars” as though it pained her to do so. I assured her that it was no problem at all; after all, that was only one call! And as I wasn’t occupied at the moment I immediately drove over with the money.
Her roommate wasn’t there when I arrived, but I later heard from Denise that when she had told her that her friend Maggie had given her the book money, the perceptive young woman had asked, “Ah, is she a red shoes lady?” Clearly she realized that such women are usually the only ones so generous with large sums of cash! We both laughed over the girl’s choice of words (which I liked so much that I have often used it in the intervening years), and I let Denise know that it was perfectly all right for her to mention my profession to friends she trusted (because I trusted her not to advertise it to all and sundry). Then I told her that I had decided to give her a “scholarship” of equal amount at the beginning of every semester to help her with expenses, and that if there were any other emergencies she need only ask. I didn’t intend to shower her with money because I think it’s good for university students to learn to live on a budget, but at the same time I knew how stressful it is to have to worry about money when there is none, and I wanted her free to concentrate on her studies.
With rare exception, I took her out to dinner every Sunday evening for the next four years, which let me keep a maternal eye on her without being intrusive. She rarely asked for any extra assistance; a few months into her first or second semester she asked for a bicycle to get around on, and I think she needed to go to the doctor once. I believe I also gave her the remainder she needed for a car a few years later, but that was about it; she wanted to make it on her own and so only asked for help when she really, truly needed it. None of her friends ever asked to be introduced to me for that kind of work, though I did get one of them a nude modeling job when she needed some quick cash. But though Denise never thought ill of me for my profession, I doubt she ever even considered it for herself, and frankly I don’t know if I would have allowed it if she had asked. Not because I thought my little girl was “too good” for it, but because it wouldn’t have been right for her as an individual.
Though we are not biologically related, there is a very strong resemblance and people often took us for mother and daughter or even sisters; the fact that we both considered this a compliment says a great deal. At the reception following her graduation ceremony, the friend who had made the “red shoes” comment kept looking back and forth at us and eventually asked her, “Are you sure Maggie isn’t your real mother?” I couldn’t be prouder of her if I were. After graduate school she got a job in her field, and has held it for several years now; on occasion, we’ve had to help her out with one little thing or another, but it’s been extremely rare. We talk on the phone often and visit as frequently as living 600 miles apart allows, and I generally get flowers or a card from her every Mother’s Day.