Upon arriving home I was confronted with several pressing tasks and a couple unforeseen emergencies. Not to worry, I’ll be back to write as soon as I can (I hope tomorrow or Thursday), and you’ll have me more regularly next week as Alex, the client I find endearing though endlessly frustrating, has postponed our trip for the following week (reschduling nightmare ensued and hazard pay was remitted).
I am fine. Those near and dear to me are fine. Just some inevitable issues.
For those of you who have emailed, please accept my apologies. I’ve barely read my email much less had time to respond. I will do so at the earliest possible moment.
One quick word of housekeeping. I will be hosting the Carnival of Sin next week, so star submitting your pieces for review and inclusion.
Alexa will be accepting the submissions and sending them to me and I will post them, without fail, on Monday.
It’s a lot of fun and I encourage you all to submit something. It doesn’t have to be about sex, it just has to be about sin – interpret that as you will.
Posted by Olympia at 07:38 PM | Comments (0)
I’m not referring to the recent flurry of commenting activity, though that is sort of interesting as well in its own right. What is most interesting is how many of you are deeply interested in history and politics and have more to say than mere platitudes. It is really exciting to watch these debates unfold, even when they venture into the more emotional realms.
The conversation I’m referring to is the one Richard and I had yesterday afternoon as we baked our bodies in the sun. I may have mentioned earlier that I don’t see Richard regularly as he lives in Canada and is retired. We’ve had an enjoyable week and he’s quite easygoing. He doesn’t want round the clock attention, rather he is content to know I’m “around.” This is a welcome change from needier clients who can become possessive and clingy (and yes, I know I’m paid to cater to that, but there’s a difference between wanting me at your side, and flipping out if I spend more than 3 minutes in the ladies room).
“So, Olympia, I’ve been thinking…”
“Well, I want to talk about something, but I want to make it clear up front that what I’m about to say should be taken at face value and you should suspect no ulterior motive or intent.”
“My, that does sound interesting.”
“It isn’t, really, but I can imagine that you get requests that make you think there’s something behind them and this isn’t one of those.”
“Okay,” I said, now feeling tentative.
“I have had a really good time this week. You are an excellent travel companion.”
“Thank you, Richard. I’ve had a really good time too.”
“I’ve been thinking of taking a trip this summer and I would like to ask you to join me.”
“I don’t think I would have a problem with that.”
“But the thing is, I was thinking of taking a rather longish trip, and I didn’t know if my invitation would be perceived as an invitation for more than just the trip.”
“No. It’s that I don’t want to travel by myself and frankly, I don’t have anyone to come with me. I know that sounds terribly self-pitying, but my children have jobs and families and lives, I don’t have friends with whom I’d want to travel, and I’m fairly solitary. I’d like to have, and I know how this sounds, a friend to go places with.”
“I’m truly flattered that you think of me as someone you’d think of in that fashion.”
“Olympia, can we be frank? I mean really and truly frank?”
“Yes. I think so.”
“I look at Marshall and Barbie and it seems just ridiculous to me. I could never want to marry a woman as young as you, or even live with a woman as young as you. It just doesn’t seem right to me. At the same time, I love the attention. I love that we can talk and have a good time, and I love that I get to sleep with a beautiful woman. It’s shallow, and I know that if it was important to me I could find a woman my own age who would be more than happy to spend time with me and travel with me and live out her golden years with me. I’m not a bad catch. But I don’t want that. I was married for many many years and I didn’t enjoy it. I love my wife because she raised a family for me and was there to support me and I her, but we didn’t feel the way we were supposed to and we both knew it fairly early on. I don’t think I want another experience like that. I would rather enjoy myself, and I enjoy myself with you, even though I know that were you not being employed, you wouldn’t spend your time with me by choice.”
“I don’t like to put it that way, Richard.”
“But it’s the truth as well it should be. You don’t see me across a crowded room and wonder how we could be together. So I’m proposing that you accompany me, that we have a good time, and that’s it. No strings, no weepy old man begging you to stay with him and change his diapers, no strong-arming.”
“Well, I can’t say one way or the other right now, so let’s talk about what you had in mind. I appreciate your honesty, and I’m taking what you say at face value.”
“Thank you, Olympia. I take that as a compliment.”
“I have two ideas and I’m not saying your input will make the decision for me, but I’d certainly want to know if either idea is interesting to you. I wanted to visit parts of Europe I hadn’t been to before, or some parts I had been to and others I hadn’t. My first idea would be to start in Austria and move to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. I was in Vienna many years ago, but always wanted to go to Salzburg. The other countries I have never visited. I have heard bad things about Prague – too crowded, too many tourists, poor infrastructure – but some very interesting things about the south and east of the country. I’d like to drive through the Carpathians and see Budapest. Conversely, I was thinking about doing a northern trip through Scandinavia. I had the good fortune of going to the Olympics in Oslo, but didn’t have much time for sightseeing, and I figured summer was a great time to go as the days are long and the temperatures are mild. I don’t want to spend hours trolling through museums, I want to see the countries, by car if possible: sit in cafes, maybe do some hiking, find towns off the beaten track and just check into a hotel. I don’t want to do five star all the way because I just won’t get to see what I want. Obviously in Vienna and Salzburg and Stockholm I’ll want to stay comfortably, but I would also be interested in traveling the way I should have as a younger man in guesthouses, eating loaves of bread with fresh cheese for lunch. I think you’d make a fascinating companion.”
So I’m lying here on the beach Richard made possible and thinking about his proposition. He hasn’t mentioned how much time he’s looking at, but even the most conservative of estimates would leave it at a month – which is a lot of time to spend with one client. A lot of time. And then part of me thinks it might be a fantastic opportunity. I do enjoy the two trips we’ve been on, and I do trust his intentions, but there is obviously something strange about the request – and certainly beyond what I have agreed to with any client in the past. I share these concerns with him to which he, like a pro, responds that we could take it one day at a time and if, at any point in the trip I decided it was too much and I wanted to leave, we’d negotiate a fair settlement and he’d drive me to the nearest airport and a first class ticket home. Well, shit, how do you tell the man who just offered you that anything other than that you’ll give it serious consideration?
“That’s all I was expecting. I realize that we don’t see each other as frequently as you must see some of your other clients, but if you are going to think about this, I would suggest that I make a trip or two to New York over the next few months so that we can iron out details together and spend some more time together to see if this idea would actually work. And there’s one other thing I have to stress because I feel self-conscious about it. It’s not merely about the sex. I don’t expect you to come on this trip and let me bend you over every monument we pass. Sex with you is delightful. I know I’m not as creative as some other men, but the activities we engage in are exciting and fulfilling for me and I like to think that you don’t have a horrible, looking-at-your-watch time of it – and if you do, you cover it up wonderfully. I would be lying if I didn’t say that the idea of getting into bed with a woman every night is a delightful and exciting idea, but I also want someone to keep me company while I drive or while she drives. Someone to talk about the things I see with. Someone to listen to me. I don’t think I’m a strong enough person to travel by myself. I need company: physical and psychological.”
So now I have this to think about. He’s thinking a June departure; I’m thinking how on earth I could swing the idea, both business-wise and personally. I don’t quite know how I feel about it and I’m truly torn. The compensation he suggested was significant, and more than I would have expected given the circumstances. And I truly wonder if not being alone is something we can put a premium on. I also wonder if there is the danger of his forming an attachment after so much time together – I know that sounds terribly self-important, but I always wonder if spending more than average amounts of time with clients makes that a more distinct possibility.
Some other thoughts on Richard. A lot of people, women in particular, write to me to inquire what my clients look like. There’s this perception that they’re either fat hairy slobs, or debonair gents with handkerchiefs and vague accents. The majority are neither of these. I don’t mind seeing an overweight man, but slovenly is definitely out. I just won’t agree to see a man who is slovenly. One or two of the men I see regularly could be described as classically handsome, but the rest are just average. I can’t think of a good comparison with someone on TV, and the closest I can come is John Spencer (Leo on West Wing). Not too tall, sometimes a little short, not fat, generally not in terrific shape, though some men are very into a sport or two, facially indistinct – few disfiguring marks, big noses small noses, thin lips, ear hair and not, nose hair and not, some have better skin than others, no one quite looks as weathered as Clint Eastwood.
Richard is in quite good shape because he plays tennis several times a week. He stands about as tall as I do in bare feet, his hair is grey but he has all of it, no facial hair, about 175 pounds, quite thick eyebrows, hair on his chest but not his shoulders. Kind of like a slimmer Albert Finney. In short, avuncular. There are worse looking people I could spend a month with.
And the thing I’ve always really liked about Richard is his unaffected manners. He is really old school about what he considers proper but it never seems stuffy. He is very up front and talkative but adheres to certain practices like standing when a woman enters the room, etc.
I’m explaining this as much to you readers as I am to myself because I find myself considering his offer and it is unique. So we’ll put this idea on the backburner for the time being, but we may return to it at a later date.
One final housekeeping thing before I sign off. I’ve started closing the commenting function on older posts to prevent the spaminators. If you really truly want to comment on a post form October, email me and I’ll open that entry up to commenting, but this just makes my site housekeeping easier.
Posted by Olympia at 09:00 AM | Comments (10)
What a hive’s nest! It’s actually really nice to see that people are out there thirsting for debate and can find it in response to some pretty uncontroversial statements like: I think the first amendment should be taken more seriously; I’m pleased the Iraq election went so smoothly; and I’m sorry the Iraq election will be used as political currency rather than discussed as a historical event important in its own right.
My own thoughts in response to some of the comments left to the last post (in short order since I wasn’t actually prepared for such a huge response):
1. I have nothing against people who want to serve in the military. I may have mentioned this before, but I’m for mandatory military service for both sexes with no possibility of exemption. If you like living here, I don’t think 2 years is too much to ask for – and I felt the same way when I was of enlistment age.
2. I’m all for deportation. There are tons of people I could easily deport from the U.S. without as much as a passing concern. I don’t know where I’d send them, but Australia has always seemed a nice place with good weather and lots of open spaces.
We can start by deporting all the people who disagree with me that Beverly Hills 90210 was the best show to come out of the early 90s, mostly to get rid of those pesky Seinfeld fans, but also to show the rest of the country that I mean business.
Next I’d like to deport both Jeneanne Garafalo and Ann Coulter preferably to that island where Papillon was filmed and film their interactions as part of a new reality TV show.
After that it gets tricky. Do I want to deport women who wear capri pants or men who wax their chests? Both are leaving eventually, I just don’t want to find myself in a political quagmire based on who I got rid of first.
People who buy Hummers are being deported to Papua New Guinea and will, I hope, be eaten by the locals.
Members of strange new age organizations have got to go too, and I’m sorry, but that means Cruise and Travolta too. Kabbalists, though it breaks my heart, Madonna, must get the boot as well.
I hate to be vindictive, but the girl who made fun of my socks in the third grade and her extended family and friends will be asked to leave, though I will give them a choice of where they’ll go.
Everyone in front of me at Balthazar will be immediately escorted to a deportation center so that I may get a table.
I think that does it for the time being, but trust me, there will be more.
3. I have nothing against teenagers. I once was one. I was legitimately disturbed by the report that surveyed 100,000 of them and found a stunning number have no idea about our country’s laws and history. I think that’s fair. And I remember fondly doing the Hobbes/Locke debate – I’ll be really impressed if the student who engaged in that was in public school and not in an advanced class. Impressed and pleased.
4. Robert Fisk rocks! I’ve been reading him for years. I’ve never seen a picture, but I’d gladly bear him children. He gets attacked a lot for being a way out lefty, but anyone who reads his articles will be hard pressed to find personal politics involved at all. So even if he is extremely left-leaning, his pieces are devoid of the punditry we have gotten used to on our side of the pond.
5. I’m not moving to Canada or anywhere else. I don’t know if other countries get all the cable channels I’m used to getting. Bill Maher said something after the elections about the people who were threatening to move to Canada and I believe it was to the effect of ‘real liberals stay.’ So I’ll be here for the Bill Frist/Hilary Clinton showdown in 2008. I’ll be under the covers whimpering, but I’ll be here.
6. Salman Rushdie, likewise rocks. It’s not necessarily important to the discussion, but worth saying anyway.
7. I have long believed that all religions are cults. And I have disdain for them all equally (I don’t know what to pin on the Buddhists yet, as they seem reasonable, but I’ll find something, and in the meantime I’m simply not buying their inner peace). While I’m at it, people who can’t separate religious faith from everyday life are getting deported too. Anyone who believes his or her religious text (Old Testament, New Testament, Qu’ran, Bhagavad Gita…) is an actual missive from god and aims to live based on the rules set down in that text (and I’m obviously referring to the rules that aren’t also shared by all orderly societies) can get in line at my deportation center. I don’t hate any religion above any other. They’re all dangerous, all narrow-minded, all exclusionary, and all littered with centuries of mistakes. I bet you a million dollars that when we meet the aliens, they won’t have religion.
8. Finally, I was reminded of a rather funny line spoken by Michael Caine in Goldmember, “There are two things I can’t stand in this
world: intolerance of other people’s cultures…and the Dutch.”
Oh, and I promised something lighter. We went fishing yesterday afternoon and I caught a fair number of snapper and grouper (small ones) which the restaurant kindly cooked for us at dinner. We swapped Oscar picks with Marshall and Barbie, though I haven’t seen some of the nominated films yet, and probably won’t (I’m not into the idea of Million Dollar Baby), and it turns out I’m not the only one who wasn’t blown away by Sideways. It was good, just not oh dear lord good. I felt the same way about American Beauty. Richard is finishing his workout and getting a massage and then we’re off to scuba. I am meticulously searching my ears for air bubbles or water because I hate spending the entire time I’m out on the ocean shaking my head to make my ears feel more comfortable.
Oh, and one final thing. My paternal grandfather was Muslim, my paternal grandmother was Jewish; my maternal grandfather was Catholic, my maternal grandmother was Jewish. My parents decided on Judaism when they married. I’m nothing. I speak a smattering (smattering should be an indulgent word for what I speak – I can do hello, how are you) of Arabic, know the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, and can easily get through a Passover seder. No member of my family ever displayed religious or cultural intolerance even though pretty much everyone was from a different culture. I’m uncomfortable with the tautology all ‘x’ think ‘y’ and all who think ‘y’ are ‘x’ and if you’re ‘x’ but don’t think ‘y,’ you’re not really ‘x.’ I like to believe we’re capable of far more complexity than that.