Libraries have always been my favorite places. As I got older, they became tied with coffeehouses, but the library will always be one of my top five places in any town. I even loved the library when I lived in a town that barely had one.
Many patrons seemed not to understand the purpose of a library.They’d come in thinking the librarians were public secretaries there to do their typing for them, and get angry when they were told librarians do not prepare resumes or type up letters. I gave the staff my card and told them I did all types of writing for people, including writing resumes and cover letters. Anytime someone came in demanding a resume or other piece for their job application, the library staff would simply humor the person and pretend they had a writer there to serve them. I was probably in there writing or reading anyway, so it usually worked The library staff was so thankful, they let me quietly and unofficially run my freelance business out of the back reading room.
People I met there never really caught on to what an independent artist or freelance worker was either. I quickly grew accustomed to being approached with anything from pictures to columns to story ideas that the person thought I would instantly “put in the paper” because I “worked there.”
One day, I had come into the library and checked in with the staff to see if they had anyone in there looking for a resume, and was approached by a man who appeared to be around my age and a teen boy. The pair had overheard me mention that I would be working on an article if anyone came in looking for a writer. The older one and I went through the usual round of questions establishing that I was indeed a writer, and no, I did not work at the newspaper. He introduced himself, as did the younger guy, an eighteen year-old who just happened to hang around him when he saw him in town.
“I have a writing project for you,” the older man said.
“He’s in love with a prostitute,” the younger one announced, giggling. There were indeed prostitutes around. The town sat in one of two counties in Nevada where prostitution was legal as long as it was kept to established licensed brothels. One brothel was located a few blocks away from the library. I imagine many men do fall in love with the prostitutes they hire there, but I couldn’t see the connection between that extra special glimpse into this guy’s life and a writing project.
The link remained unclear for a few more minutes, as I heard tale after tale about the prostitute, and this guy’s former job as an assistant at the brothel. He had been a client of this woman in addition to being a coworker, but she promised him that if she were not a “working girl,” he would be her boyfriend. Other coworkers of hers were platonic friends of his. The madame had become upset over him becoming too friendly with the girls, fired him, and banned him from the property. But he still loved the girl.
Between stories about his love, the guy would comment that someone should write about what goes on there. He added a story about a girl who had died, and thought she should have a nice memorial written about her. I agreed that she deserved to be remembered, but still could not tell what he wanted me write.
My best guess was that he wanted some type of“I was in love with a legal Nevada prostitute” memoir written. I listened patiently for a bit longer to more stories about this girl, mainly declarations that she was more than just a working girl, coupled with assurances that he did hook up with her, and paid for it.
Mr. Brothel Enthusiast would pause between each of these stories and wait for a reaction from me. I got it. There was no writing project. He saw a woman who spent most of her time in the library, assumed I was prudish and naive, and thought he’d have some fun shocking me.
He failed. Private activities that involve only consenting adults do not shock or upset me. I was just irritated that he was wasting my time trying to shock me, when I needed to do some real writing work that day. I shrugged at his latest “shocking” pronouncement and started pointedly ignoring him.
“Someone should write about what goes on there,” Brothel Enthusiast said again. “Someone should write a blog about the place. You could write a blog,” Brothel Enthusiast told me.
Finally. He got to what he wanted written.
“That would be an expensive project,” I told him. “I would have to go down there and get permission from the owner to do it, and then I’d have to regularly interview the girls and the rest of the staff about whatever they wanted publicized. I thought you said you weren’t allowed over there anymore.”
“You mean I’d have to pay you?” Brothel Enthusiast yelled.
“Yes, when you do something as a career, you get paid,” I explained.
Brothel Enthusiast was suddenly less interested in having his fascination with the legal brothels documented online. I continued to see him around, but told him my boyfriend didn’t like me talking to guys about brothels. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time. I just didn’t want some idiot trying in vain to shock me while I worked.
Over the coming months, I made an effort to be kind to him when I saw him around. I felt a bit sorry for the guy. He was trying to treat me as though I were naive and gullible, but he seemed to be the only one in earshot of his stories who didn’t get it that his favorite working girl likely told every client who wanted to hear it that they would be her boyfriend if she weren’t a working girl.
During this time, I had taken a side job at the local Walmart as a greeter and cashier. Retail workers get treated like dirt in most places, but in the town where I used to live, people made an art form out of it. The town prides itself on hating anyone not “from there” and making sure people in the “right crowd” remain in control of the place and get the best of everything anyway, but when you’re not from there, haven’t married into the “right” crowd, and you’re a retail worker all at the same time…a good day is when only one person lets you know how worthless you are in a four hour shift.
The local hookers and bartenders from the brothels were among the few who actually treated me with respect and kindness. One even made a point to stop and chat for a minute when she left the store.
Brothel Enthusiast was impressed to learn that I had made friends with the bartender and one of the working girls at the brothel. He was delighted when he asked me who she was, and learned it was his beloved working girl, the one he was no longer allowed to see.
Brothel Enthusiast had some new writing he wanted me to do. He wanted me to email him whenever I saw this girl, letting him know where she was and what she was doing. He wanted me to mention him and see if she still felt the same way about him. I told him I was not going to stalk a girl for him.
I never ran into Brothel Enthusiast again. I imagine he ran the other way when he saw me coming after that. I did do some “writing” connected to the brothel though…I found their web page and contact information and wrote the owner my own little memoir, letting them know this guy was tracking one of their employees. They appreciated me letting them know, as this individual had been creeping them out and fixating on this girl for a very long time.
I have since lost touch with my friend who worked in the local brothel, but last I heard of Brothel Enthusiast, he moved to a different part of the country. I hope he didn’t wind up anywhere with legal brothels….for the sake of the working girls.