Monday, April 09, 2012

Monday-9am: H

H is for Helpful Hooker
In the fall of 1969 my former first love, Alan, and his friend, Tim, were planning to run away to Canada. Tim had been drafted, was home on leave from boot camp, and didn't want to go to Vietnam. Alan had been caught with two joints, was awaiting sentencing, and didn't want to go to prison. My recently acquired friend, Anita, and I talked them into letting us come along. Anita (unbeknownst to us) was afraid she was pregnant. I had been emotionally reeling since I had been gang-raped walking home from a beach dance the summer before. We four friends were going to begin our lives fresh--have a do-over. We hoped to join a commune.
We were able to cross the border into Canada pretending to be two couples going on camping vacation for a couple weeks. When they opened the trunk and saw sleeping bags (one of the guys brought) along with everything I had accumulated for living on my own one day--including an iron and my yellow metal colander...
...they probably thought our story must be true. After all, in the age of hippies, who would run away with brush rollers and a bonnet hairdryer? ROFL!
Anyways, we drove and slept outdoors. I remember skinny dipping in the dark in Lake Superior and losing my class ring washing my hair. I remember sitting on big rocks along the shoreline eating plums for the first time. We stayed in a hostel along the way where all the girls were in one huge room and all the guys were on another floor in another huge cots and wool blankets (itched like crazy)...but you could take a shower.
We thought we were so street wise and worldly. But Anita and I snuck into the bathroom after all the other tougher looking females were asleep to take our showers. We were kind of scared of shy--LOL! And there we were in the bathroom shaving our legs in the sink and rolling up our hair with the brush rollers. In the dim light I shaved off a mosquito bite that bled profusely and started us off on a suppressed giggling attack that came to an abrupt end when a deep voiced woman yelled at us from the darkness of the army cots. (I have a round scar on my shin to this day.)
When we got to Quebec City and heard it was well organized for helping draft dodgers, we decided to find a room to rent and start our new lives. The guys got directions to some very old Victorian looking houses that had been divided up for cheap room rentals. I remember being shown the small grubby room. Tall narrow windows, a single metal bed frame with a thin stained mattress, and a used condom on the floor...but seems to me it was ten dollars a week, they didn't care if four of us stayed there, and we were running low on cash. There was a shared bathroom and kitchen. The kitchen was large enough it had an old table and a couple chairs. The bathroom had a lock on the door. We took the room.
I told the guys to get my scrub bucket, dish soap, rags, and Windex out of the trunk (told you I brought everything I owned) and, with optimistic enthusiasm, Anita and I went to town cleaning every inch of that room. The semicircle of tall narrow windows were actually part of one of the turrets you could see from the! But there were no curtains or blinds (thank goodness we weren't on the ground floor) and if you looked out the back side window you could see right into the room next door to us...and there was a bed right under the window...and a naked girl was sleeping in to a naked man...with no covers! So we tried to be really quiet and turned our heads while we cleaned the windows.
Anita and I whispered about how shy we were and how we had never slept naked. How we wished we were as comfortable with our bodies as this girl apparently was. We finished scrubbing every inch of the room, flipped the mattress to the least stained side, and had the guys bring in all our things. Anita and I had found a wooden orange crate under the bed that had been made into shelves, so the rest of our few dry goods stacked nicely in there.
We were fluffing the towels and deciding where to hang them in the bathroom when that girl sleepily posed in the open door. We apologized, explained we were just figuring out where to put our bathroom things, and would get out of her way. She smiled and told us, with her groovy French accent, to keep everything in our room and to keep our door locked...including the toilet paper we had just hung on the holder. She told us that the guys would use anything to wipe their butts, including our towels...and that anything and everything would be used or stolen. We thanked her profusely and scooted out with our toilet paper, soap, shampoo, and towels.
She was our heroine! Beautiful, long thick dark wavy hair, slender, looked like a model, and kindhearted, too. She always smiled so genuinely and asked how we were doing. Wondered if we were the ones who cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen (of course) and thanked us. Anita and I wondered if we could ever be friends with her. She wasn't much older than us and was just so gentle and sweet!
The next day the guys left early to see if they could get fake IDs. They left us with change to wash clothes at the laundromat on the corner. We'd been traveling for several days and were out of clean clothes. Us "women" were expected to clean, wash, and cook, of course...and, girls of the 50s that we were, we loved taking care of the guys. The "men" would return and give us the lay of the land. But it was a small laundromat and all the washers were full with baskets lined up waiting, so we decided to try later in the day. While we were gone we remembered the beautiful girl, were wondering about her some more, and decided to peek out our window. Surly she couldn't be sleeping in the afternoon again, right?
She was! Naked! And with a different naked guy!
Goodness sakes! We had read all about the hippies and free love...and we knew that grass, hash, and pills of all sorts had finally hit the upper midwest...but we were still a bit shocked to see it close up. Of course, it could have been a French thing. This triggered a long conversation about living in a commune, wondering what was expected, and could we have sex without men did?
By dusk the laundromat was almost empty. Anita and I were sitting in the metal chairs watching traffic, waiting on the dryers, wondering when the guys would be back, and still discussing this free love idea...when we watched her saunter up to the corner.
She just stood there. Waiting. We figured it must be a bus stop and kept gabbing. But a car drove up, she checked to see who it was, and got in. We figured it must have been one of the two boyfriends picking her up for a date because she was looking good in her mini-skirt and makeup. How rude to make her wait on the corner, though, we thought.
We were folding clothes when the car returned to the corner and she got out. Now we were puzzled. If they had a fight she didn't look angry or upset...and she didn't go home. ??? We snuck peeks as she stood on the corner and fixed her lipstick.
A different car drove up and stopped by the curb. As she leaned in, we could see the guy this time...and it wasn't either of the younger boyfriends! As she climbed in the light bulb finally went off. I remember Anita and I staring wide-eyed at each other as we heard the car drive away. "She's a hooker!" we whispered at the same time.
We scrambled to get all our clothes and get out of there before the car returned to the corner. Not to avoid her. We still absolutely adored her. But we didn't want to embarrass her by kind of catching her in the act, so to speak, you know? I think she knew we were clueless suburban Americans and we didn't want to ruin our friendship with her.
We never mentioned anything about her private life. We had a friendly relationship with our self-employed neighbor the entire week we lived there. To this day I think she was the sweetest, most beautiful woman and think of her fondly.
The guys could get fake IDs and Work Visas, but there was nothing to help us girls. Without those Anita and I couldn't work in Canada. We didn't want to be a burden for them, so we called home. (Would have been missing persons on TV the next day...missed our 15 minutes of fame, I guess--LOL!) After we flew home, Tim decided he shouldn't go AWOL and returned and went to Vietnam (survived, but they're never the same). Alan drove back for his sentencing. Anita found out she was pregnant. And me? I learned that you can't run away from your sorrows, no matter how hard you try or how far you run. So you might as well deal with them where you stand.
"Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth."
Thich Nhat Hanh


TexWisGirl said...

oh, rita. just went back and read your post. how you can find faith and joy is amazing to me. i have hardened my heart over so much less...

i love your tale of the happy friendly hooker. what a soul. :)

Queenie Jeannie said...

You kids were so lucky!!! I shudder to think about all the horrible things that could have happened to you all. I'm glad the boys decided to come back. It's not easy to face life sometimes, but there's no real running from it either.

At least you had a good story to tell from it all! Hugs!

Teresa Evangeline said...

I cannot imagine having to deal with all you have. The joy you find in life despite the very difficult times you've had is inspiring to me. I apreciate this look into your life as you once knew it. What an interesting adventure. And I love that yellow colander.:)

Furry Bottoms said...

I love the fact that you STILL loved the hooker after you realized she was a hooker. You looked beyond that and saw a beautiful woman. I agree with T, you're an amazing woman to have found faith and kept your joy.

Intense Guy said...

After the eventful live you lived... I can see why a nice quiet place in Fargo suits you perfectly just now.


Sandra Tyler said...

Great story and well written.

Jenny Woolf said...

What a great story! It catches the feeling of being young in those days. All the time in the world and the need to work out so much. I'm so sorry you had that awful experience and doesn't sound as if anyone helped you get over it. What happened to Anita and her baby?

It's kind of sad about the hooker isn't it? I hope she came through that period of her life okay too.

AliceKay said...

What an interesting story. Had me "hooked" right from the start. ;)

I tend to think along the same line as Furry Bottoms...after finding out the woman was a hooker, you still loved her for the person she was on the inside.

Hope you had a good day today. *hugs*

Beth said...

A very mesmerizing story. I wonder about Anita and the baby too.

Carolyn Dube said...

What an adventure! don't know if I would have the courage for such an adventure!

Barbara said...

I haven't thought in a long time about all the decisions about the draft and draft dodging. I knew several guys who said they would go to Canada, but no one ever really did. It was a different time and a different world.

A Plain Observer said...

way back in college I did a research on hookers and I found that they were low paid workers. most of the time abused and mistreated. Sad life and one no one enters willingly

Pam said...

Hi. I'm new to your blog and enjoying it, this and the previous post of Alice Herz Sommer.
In shared digs I had, at the time in history you described, a near-nude woman was always visiting me. I just thought it was the freedom of the times, and no need to to embarrassed, we were both women after all. Turns out she was trying to estabish a much more intimate relationship and I was too naive to be picking up the hints. I enjoyed this look back in time.

Deanna said...

Oh sweetie, I was there with you! What a poignant story. I think I would have admired your beautiful naked friend too. Such experiences. Both good and bad.

That corgi :) said...

What an interesting story, Rita. I enjoyed reading it; I'm sure there were lots of people doing the same thing you guys were doing at the time. I had to laugh at Anita; I didn't realize what her profession was until I caught on why she was waiting for vehicles all the time, LOL :)

Sounds like a wild adventure you guys all had; ever keep up with the other three since that time?


Jo-Anne's Rambling said...

What a wonderful story and what an adventure you all had and I think it is great that you still liked the woman even after you found out she was a hooker........

Francene said...

Interesting story which brings back memories of the time. I lived in australia. My family and I travelled the coast in a caravan for a year, looking for a better, alternate way of life. We found the life we'd left behind was superior to all we'd seen.

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Actually ~ I think this has the makings of a potential novel ~ Wow ~ brave little girls ~ You flew home ~ what happened to all your stuff? LOL ~ blow dryer and colander ~ hugs to you and Karma ~ namaste, ^_^

DJan said...

Thank goodness everything turned out okay. You told the story very well, Rita, and I felt like I was there with you. How different the world was back then!

I guess you have always had a big heart, filled with love for others. No different today, only now you lavish all that love on your family, Karma, and your fortunate blogging buddies. :-)