How To Make Money In London

he told me about how he was a bank manager and worked for a french company and went to france all of the time.  i told him about how much i liked france and wanted to go there, talked about how i liked french music and existentialism when i was in high school and françois truffaut and jane birkin and anna karina and how i had a stalker once who said i look just like chantal goya and how much i wanted to smoke gauloises…i didn’t care i guess about entertaining him like i was probably supposed to and was just thinking about the things i liked to keep my mind off of what was actually happening.

i told him about how i was studying art and design, how i made money designing websites and pamphlets and that sort of thing.

“you do look like an art student.”

it was pleasant enough i guess, it was like the feeling i got when i talked  to my uncle who i  see at christmas sometimes.

at the pub i told him to get me whatever cider he recommended.

i was nervous about him not having paid me right away, but i figured it was okay since we were at a pub.  if he didn’t pay me here, i would just leave.

he came back to our table with a cider and a beer.

“i’ve been like really obsessed with cider since i’ve came here.  like i never had it before…”

he told me the difference between lager and beer and about where he had grown up which apparently was famous for lager or something.

he asked me why i came to england.

told him about how i had always liked british music and fashion especially lately i really like alexa chung, and how i thought that people back home would be really impressed and jealous when i told them about how i had been to london.

we talked about how much we like the smiths.  i thought about how in america you would never find a stuffy, middle aged banker who liked the smiths.

“do you want something else?” he asked when i had finished my cider.

“yeah, i want a mimosa, like buck’s fizz.”

we had to mix the champagne and orange juice ourselves.

after drinking a glass i finally asked, “um, do you want to pay me the first bit now?”

“yeah, certainly i do,” he said and reached into his wallet and handed me the money underneath the table.

i counted it quickly and put it in my bag.

it really was 200 pounds.

and now i had money, so now i was happy again.

since i had left my parents house i was constantly struggling with money.  my first year of college i would often go two or three days in a row without eating.  when i later moved to chicago i was sick with anxiety the first few days i lived there that due to an error with my bank that i was going to be thrown out into the street.  i got that same panicked, anxious feeling in london when i had ripped through my suitcase and purse and hadn’t been able to find my debit card.

i thought then that not having to endure that kind of horrible stress and fear was worth whatever happened with this guy.  and that i just want lots and lots of money and expensive things so i don’t ever have to be afraid of what’s going to happen to me again, no matter what i have to do to get it.

“I’m really hungry, will you buy me something to eat?” i asked.

“sure.  do you want a burger, maybe?  the menu’s right there.”

“i think i want fish n chips.”

“you’re going to eat fish n chips and champagne?” he laughed.

“yeah, what’s wrong with that?”

he went to the bar to order me my fish and chips.

when he sat back down we talked more about london and other general things.

somehow it got to me admitting, “you can probably tell i’ve never done anything like this before.”

“yeah. i mean the way you look and how you were so nervous when i first met you, it’s nothing like agency girls.  i mean i was nervous, too…”

“how many times have you done this?”

“this is the third time.  the first two times were with professional girls and i had absolutely nothing to say to them.  but with you, you seem intelligent.  like there’ s a lot going on behind you.”

“i’m smart at some things i guess, but not with people or at growing up.  and those are the important things…”

_____

the waiter brought me my fish and chips.  he was cute.  i wondered if it looked to other people like i was here with my dad.

“is it supposed to be a filet?”

“yeah.  it’s very traditional fish and chips.  they even gave you mushy peas.”

“in america fish and chips is usually like fish sticks you know.  i guess it wouldn’t be authentic…”

after eating and finishing the rest of the champagne i said, “do you wanna go?”

while walking back to his place some tween girls walking past us stopped and asked him if he could help them because they were lost.  he looked up directions for them on his iphone.  he was very sweet to them.  i thought how surreal it was, for there to be  bunch of little kids talking politely to a man who was with a prostitute.  i wished i had a cigarette.

“that was nice of you, to help those kids,” i said.

_____

his place was nice.  i could tell he was well off, i guess.  but it also felt uncomfortably stark and lonely.

i sat down on his couch.

“do you want to pay me the rest now?”

he gave me one hundred more pounds, which i put into my bag.

we talked some more.

he asked me if i thought there was anything wrong with what we were doing, and i said that i didn’t think so.

he agreed.  “we could have met at a pub.  of course you might not have gone home with me then, but…”

“i was only going to do it with one guy, and you seemed like the least creepy.”

“really?  only one?”

_____

i asked him about his first time, since I always ask men about that.

he told me about losing it at 17. he told me about how he had fallen in love with the girl he lost it to, and how “those feelings never really go away,” which worried me as someone who was still very much in love with the person they lost their virginity to, a year and a half ago.

we talked some more and it got around to him admitting “well, i’m seeing someone.  but, i don’t know if we’re still together.  she’s in south america right now, studying yoga.  she hasn’t been in contact with me in a few months.  i mean, people are adults, and can make their own decisions…”

there was some silence.

“listen, emily.  i don’t want you to do something that you really don’t want to do.  you don’t have to have sex with me, you can take the money and go.”‘

i briefly considered it.

i’m not used to people being nice to me.

“no, it’s okay.  i don’t believe in stealing or whatever.”

he said he had to go into the other room for something.  while he was walking away i took off my clothes and stood up.

when he came back and saw me he said, “oh, that’s beautiful.  you’re really beautiful and like naturally beautiful.”

“yeah, i grew up mostly in los angeles, and there most of the girls were like fake blonde fake tan lots of make-up you know, which is cool i guess, but it was just never my thing…”

_____

i sat down on his couch and gave him a blowjob while he was standing up in front of me.  i didn’t really feel disgusted or anything like i was afraid i would.  it was okay.

but then he kneeled down and started to go down on me, which was really gross. i don’t like it even when a really hot guy does it.  i forced myself to moan like i was enjoying it.

when he stopped i stood up.

“do you want to fuck me?”

“of course i do.”  he sounded nervous.  “do you have a condom?  because i don’t.”

“yeah, i have one,” i said and got one from my purse.

he made some joke about how one should never look in a woman’s purse.

we went into his bedroom, and he laid down on the bed.

i handed him the condom and he put it on.

“oh, you want me to be on top, huh?”

so i did and again it was like whatever, it wasn’t gross or disturbing.

he laid there and had an erection while i moved.

“do you want to do it another way?”

“what?”

“because i just feel kind of tired.”

“well, i’ve just cum, so.  good timing, i guess.”

i couldn’t believe my luck, with him being a two pump chump.

we both got dressed.

he said he would call a taxi for me.

he went to go use the phone.  i sat on his couch.

“i’ve just called the taxi and it should be here in about ten minutes.  can i get you anything?”

“can you get me like coffee, ‘cos i’m really tired. just black coffee, nothing in it.  and toast with marmite on it, if you have it.”

he went to go make me those things.

i smoked the cigarette i saw laying on his table.

i looked in my purse at all of the money i had now.

he brought me the coffee and marmite toast on a tray, but when i grabbed the coffee cup it was so hot that i yelped and dropped it all over his white couch.

“oh god, i’m so sorry!”

“no, it’s okay.  i’m sorry for handing you that.  i didn’t realize how hot the cup was.  stains can easily be washed out, but scars are forever…”

i ate my toast standing.

he gave me 50 pounds for taxi fare.

“you know, emily, don’t make a habit out of this.  you seem like there’s a lot going on behind you.  you don’t seem like the kind of girl to do this.”

“well i just had to, since i lost my debit card.  i only planned to do this once.  and, you know, no girl wants to do this, but if i had to do it i’m glad it was with you.”

“i understand, i mean especially in london, where you just seem to burn through money so fast…”

he wanted me to keep in contact with him, he said he wanted to show me london, “even though this is such a strange way to meet someone.”

i lied and said i would email him.

he talked about how strange life is.  “you never know what’s going to happen from day to day.  like waking up this morning i had no idea that going on that website that i hardly ever go on these days would lead to me sleeping with a 20 year old later today…”

then my taxi was here.

i kissed him on the mouth (he asked me if i minded and i said i didn’t) and hugged him and we said goodbye.

i took the taxi back to hendon central tube station. TC mark

More From Thought Catalog

  • dip

    bret easton ellis meets xanga in the worst kind of way

    • Chris

      no way

      this is awesome

      • dip

        to each their own i guess

      • Chris

        nice. glad we did not get in argument. to each their own, we guess

      • xtos

        that back and forth was sweat

      • guest

        “sweet” sweat or “I paid for it” sweat?

      • xtos

        ILL NEVER TELL

  • Graham

    “i took the taxi back to hendon central tube station.” the fact that I know this place grounded this in reality. Good, and sad.

  • Richard Janesin

    slut

    • PERFECTCIRCLES

      Not helpful.

  • jane

    “anyway, i want to make my own money, now that i’m 20.”

    lol.

    • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

      Spoken like someone who was 20 back before the bankers destroyed our economy.

  • GFT

    Nice pacing and authentic seeming. Old guy sounds like a person from craigslist.

  • PERFECTCIRCLES

    “i thought then that not having to endure that kind of horrible stress and fear was worth whatever happened with this guy. and that i just want lots and lots of money and expensive things so i don’t ever have to be afraid of what’s going to happen to me again, no matter what i have to do to get it.”

    Yikes. Surely true, but yikes.

    • http://twitter.com/godworm Nicholas Cox

      Yes, this passage will really stay with me.

    • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

      Pretty much life under Late-Capitalism in a nutshell. No wonder this piece is freaking people out. Easier to shoot the messenger than realize there is no difference between their lives and the life of a sex worker. Truth like that tends to gnaw at people.

  • xtos
    • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

      Why not?

  • guest

    i keep trying to think of how i want to say this, but i guess all i can really say is that i think this is just sloppy, trite, ill-conceived. it's like a rambling, self-affirming journal entry.

    • http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

      Your Inner (or Outer?) Puritan doesn't make a very good literary critic. I don't think you understand what the word “rambling” means.

      How many times did you cross yourself and pray to Cheezis after reading this?

      • guest

        i didn't, and have absolutely nothing against prostitution. this is just poorly written.

      • guest

        I like your ironic absence of capitalized letters.

      • guest

        what does capitalization have to do with any criticism i've posted? oh, it doesn't.

      • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

        Wow, you really are dumb.

      • Some Guy

        So, let me get this straight. No capitalization in a comment is somehow worse no capitalization in an article? An article by someone who claims to be a “writer.”

      • Blah

        Tell it to Hemmingway.

      • guest

        it's irrelevant to what i was saying. i wasn't attacking marie's stylistic choices in this piece.
        ultimately i think that she has the potential to be a better writer than she is now and this piece, regardless of how she wants it to be read, lacks complexity and depth. if she identifies as a writer i assume she wants to grow as a writer as well? criticism is integral to development as any kind of artist, duh.

      • http://chrysler5thavenue.blogspot.com chrysler5thavenue

        It's a story describing what happened from the point of view of the  character it happened to, presumably the writer herself.  What more depth is there supposed be?  It's reality described to you, to glean whatever you want from it. The point in writing isn't to display how good a writer you are, it's to communicate.  She's not an inferior writer because her character's thought process lacks whatever “depth” you expect her to have, whatever “depth” is.  If you want more depth, look for it in yourself so you can fathom those you consider less deep.  You're a pretentious imbecile.  Don't bother replying to me if you read this.  Read the story over, and realize I'm right.

      • Frances

        So typical of you to use the Puritan card but then I guess that's all you've got to say. Something can be sexy and risque and also insightful and artistic. Someone brought up 'Belle du Jour', which is a good example.

    • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

      That's exactly what it is, but in a good way: it's a thought. This is Thought Catalog. The 7 people who liked your comment are all dumber than you, though.

    • Jonjonz91

      well, it is. and it's a damn good one at that. no one said it's a 'proper' piece, whatever a 'proper' piece is.

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    I really enjoyed reading this.

  • http://profiles.google.com/amaviena Amanda Viers

    nice story. worried about the editing quality of TC in that there were spelling errors. WTF. Wish you didn't have to do that. Hope you never have to do it again. Hang on to your debit card.

    • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

      I'm in the camp of a lot of the other readers. While this was an interesting read, it makes me worry for you in the same way I would worry about a friend of the family if they told me this story. Because not every guy out there will be as nice and sane as the gentleman you picked. Please take care of yourself.

  • superspecial

    More women and men do this kind of thing than most of you may ever realize!

    I'm one of them :)

    • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

      Amen. I know guys who've used more prostitutes than me, think I don't know about it, and frequently give me dirty looks when they find out — because, you know, I just have a habit of telling the straight truth to people I like.

  • Joe

    I'm glad that you got lucky enough to have a nice man to… um… “hire” you. I wonder if most male clients are like that… This was so interesting to read and it makes me kinda want to do it too, now! It sounds weirdly romantic. Conflicted??

    • Nic

      Take a gander at the Belle du Jour blog.

      • Frances

        But she had to! She lost her debit card! This shit is waaaay too trashy to compare to Belle du Jour. Needing some old loser to pay to fuck you to feel attractive is not what motivated the character in that film.

  • http://twitter.com/adamhump adamhump

    PICS!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/adamhump adamhump

      damn… regret this comment after reading… good job

  • http://www.calvinmarkus.com peter

    uh, wow, okay, damn

  • http://twitter.com/dwcalderwood Daniel Calderwood

    nvm

  • FredHampton

    Seems kind of dark to me, kind of like it cheapens sex. I wish people didn't have to do this.

    • Frances

      Some people actually find themselves in circumstances where they have to which is why this piece is such utter crap.

      The awkward flab contorting american apparel ad photo suits this story perfectly. American apparel is like a discount halloween costume store. Everything is slutty and unimaginative.

    • http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

      I think you're “wrong” but your name is excellent

  • http://www.facebook.com/TomSmizzle Tom Smith

    Excellent article, I really like your writing style.
    If you are back in the UK for a significant length of time again you will get another chance to buy underage kids booze, don't worry.

  • tyler

    I really love the way you write, morbid and dark yet very personal. There is so much potential in you, and honestly I think you shouldnt have to put yourself out like that. I somewhat wished these were all fiction

  • http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

    Wow. Great piece. The interesting thing is how close this was to being a typical tale of going home with a stranger from a pub. What's the difference (except, in this case, the stranger was unusually generous)? The odds are probably much higher, in the States, that he'd be a bone-collecting psycho.

    • http://twitter.com/AKAGoldfish Dickey El Shavaz

      In other words, in the states it also wouldn't be that different than just picking someone up at a bar.

  • http://twitter.com/ttirevehsoj Joshua Everitt

    Heh, Portsmouth. I live there.

  • Sweetcat

    That could have been me writing that piece. I wonder if every girl feels that way her first time getting paid?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Timberman/922794 Steven Timberman

    Beautiful use of line breaks. More than anything, you know how to begin and end a scene. Even with all the spelling errors and somewhat trite language, I couldn't stop reading. Addictive and entertaining – what more does one need?

    Plus, I'm an American living out in southwest London who happened to pull last night. There really is a strange, almost morbid fascination with America here.

  • http://avantgardebagpipesolos.tumblr.com/ Omar De Col

    read this with high levels of interest throughout

  • Fern

    It's funny reading this as a slightly older person because I remember what it's like to be twenty, the physical incarnation of a male fantasy, and how easy that is to exploit.

  • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

    I've been on the other side of this when traveling. Backpage.com is better these days, you meet nicer women through it, and younger. Anyway, I don't see what's wrong with it, and I'm sure a lot of these comments are all judgemental and stuff. Sometimes you just want to fuck and you don't feel like having any complication. If you're nice to a girl who's selling herself, she will treat you very well. Treat her like you're not paying her. And so forth. Anyway, I hope you published under a fake name because people will hold this against you for a very long time. Now I'll read the rest of the article.

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