Christine works for legislative change in Missouri metropolitans.
Caution, adult content.
It was Christmas morning in the late ’90s. I had showered on Christmas Eve, at a house that had no electricity and no heat, but had running water. I had grabbed a fresh change of clothes at the local thrift store on Truman Road in Kansas City. I changed outside in the parking lot between the dumpsters, tossing the dirty clothes I had worn for the last four, maybe five, days.
There were always folks willing to buy sex on Christmas. Men “treating themselves to a Christmas gift.” Men thinking that if they buy sex on Christmas they are giving a “gift” to the prostituted. Such men dared not divulge their perversities to those they were in a relationship with or married to. Instead, they “gifted” their twisted sexual desires or fetishes as a selfish gift to themselves and supposedly a generous gift to their prostitute of choice. They paid a prostitute on Christmas to indulge their perversion.
I saw the bright red car heading my way. I made it to the corner and turned to walk up the block when he turned again. As I approached the street that ran behind Apple Market, he sat there waiting in his shiny sports car. He backed up slowly, rolled down the passenger window and smiled. “Get in,” he said.
As I stepped into the car, he reached his arm toward the back seat. I paused hesitantly with the car door still open, watching intently to see what he was reaching for before getting completely in the car. He pulled out a single rose. I closed the door as he handed it to me. I looked at him and back at the rose and said, “Thanks.” We drove off.
He asked if I was hungry, and I said, “Yes.” He said, “Let’s get you some food first, okay?” I said, “Sure.” We drove to a few places close by, but they were closed.
I smelled the rose and touched the petals. They were soft and beautiful against the stark winter landscape. Looking at the rose, he said, “The 7–11 where I got that is open. Shall we just go there to get you some food?” I agreed. I made nachos, piling on as much chili and cheese as the paper container would hold. I grabbed a bottle of OJ and a lighter and met him at the counter.
He asked if I needed cigarettes, and I said, “No, I don’t smoke.” He glanced at the lighter I was sliding in my jeans pocket, but he did not probe further and I did not offer an explanation of my addiction. We got back in the car and I thanked him. He encouraged me to go ahead and eat. He continued driving around the area where he had picked me up.
Then he said, “I saw you out last night. You’ve changed clothes since then, and you look nice.” I thanked him while thinking to myself, small talk? Really? But at least he was kind. As I finished up my food, I thanked him for letting me eat first.
“Okay, now let’s talk business,” I said. He reached into his shirt pocket and handed me a crisp $100 bill. He said, “We’re both alone on Christmas, but I have a home to go to, a warm place.” He nodded toward the hundred dollar bill in my hand. “That’s yours. Can I give you a lift to a hotel so you can have a warm place?”
The curious driver spoke again. “Well, why don’t you tell me where you would like me to drop you off so you won’t have to walk any more than you have to? It’s the least I can do. It’s a holiday, and all. I know it’s not much, but I really don’t want to take you to a dope house or anything like that, if you don’t mind.”
That’s when I realized he was giving me the money expecting nothing in return. Perplexed, I asked, “So you’re just giving me a hundred bucks and going about your business?” He smiled at me and said, “Yes, I am.” I clarified, “You don’t want anything. For real?” He said, “No I don’t. I guess you don’t get that much, huh?”
I just sat there trying to process it and finally answered, “No. No I do not.”
On this day, however, this prostituted woman would not have to have a man put his hands on her. This moment was like a miracle: no one touching me, no one pawing me.
A day of, what felt to me at that moment, freedom. A state of being that rarely found its place on my journey of life. On that blustery winter day, that gift of freedom, the connection to me as a human and not an object, was the best Christmas gift I had ever received, maybe in my entire lifetime.
“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald
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