Saturday, March 23, 2013


What it says of me that what I am about to relate is wholly unusual for me, I can only guess.  Possibly, it means that I am pre-Bilbo Bagginsian: flabby, respectable, staid, and stodgy (and, yes, those are the right words; I looked to be sure*).

In any event, I was interrupted by the ringing of my doorbell as I was writing.  My lovely wife had gone out to watch a movie and spend time with a friend; the possibility occurred to me that she had returned and was carrying something that would prevent her from getting her keys easily, so I went to and opened the front door.  It was not my wife standing there, however, but a woman who, from the smell of her had been smoking prodigiously (and not just tobacco) and drinking in a bit more than moderation.

She was looking for the former residents of the apartment above the one I share with my wife, saying "The guys...upstairs...they have a dog."  I told her that they had moved out some months ago--which was completely true--and she looked disappointed for a moment.

Then, with a gleam of desperation in her eye, she asked after my marital status.  I told her--honestly, again--that I am happily married, and her look of disappointment returned.  "That's a shame," she said, "because I would have given you a bi-racial...well, three-quarter white, since...well."

I bade her a good evening and shut the door.

As I said, I am unsure what it says about me that I am unaccustomed to such things despite living in the part of Brooklyn in which I do; I ought to be inured to vice and the kind of self-degradation that prompts such behavior from living and working in New York City, and I am not exactly in one of the more prestigious parts of the best of the five boroughs.  I find that I am not sure what it says of me that the woman would have made a point of calling herself "three-quarters white" when making what seemed to me to be an offer of prostitutional services (which I declined, thank you very much; interpret that as you will).

And I find that I am not comfortable with what is says of me that I find myself judging the smoke-reeking woman as I am.  Given her actions and words, I am convinced that she is a prostitute--and I feel no small degree of revulsion at the idea.  Surely, I have shared space with sex workers male and female--hell, I used to work with one who had stripped all the way through her undergraduate career and was featured on Internet porn while we were in a graduate program together--and have not recoiled as I did this evening.  Is it simply an issue of my other experiences being away from my home and the one I relate being at my home, so that I am inclined (and appropriately) to be protective?  Or am I simply being more of a judgmental ass now, more curmudgeonly and less accepting of people's different life choices?  If it is the latter, is it a thing against which I ought to work?  Does my feeling as I do indicate that I am a bad person?

While having a hooker show up at the door is rare, asking such questions as her appearance prompted is entirely too common.

*Tolkien writes in The Hobbit that, before Bilbo, "you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him."  The online Oxford English Dictionary gives as definition 2 of stodgy "Dull, heavy; wanting in gaiety or brightness" and as definition 2d of staid "Characterized by or indicating sedateness."  All befit, I think.

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