Yesterday afternoon a young fella in Darlinghurst hailed me for a roundabout fare. “First I need to drop some money off to my friend," he requested, "then we’ll go to Central Station.” It was only when we arrived and he walked to the unit entrance that I noticed his pronounced limp and a gammy hand indicating some form of handicap.
Within a few minutes a woman emerged aged around thirty years, slightly chubby and buxom. He towered over her whilst they chatted before she decided to take the cab after he alighted.
After he climbed back into the front seat she gently chided him for not joining her in the back. Instead she tossled his hair and couldn’t keep her hands off him, plainly excited to be in his company. In response he reached back and playfully squeezed her leg.
In a softly spoken voice he told her, “I’m really sorry to muck you around. I’ve got to get my act together.” “Stephen, that’s quite alright,” she replied. “Next time would have been fine.”
It was obvious they had feelings for each other, though she seemed like a big sister to him. I asked him, “Is she your sister?” He laughed and blushed whilst she exclaimed, “He’s my beautiful boyfriend!” and wrapped her arms around him. At the station she sought a goodbye kiss, tenderly caressing his face.
As we pulled away I asked, “How come you’re not going with your boyfriend?” “Well, actually,” she explained in a more sober tone, “I’m a prostitute and he’s a client. He’s going back home to his parents. I only see him every month or so.”
When I remarked that they seemed to be in love she replied, “It’s true, I love him heaps. He’s my favourite client but he has a considerable handicap. He has a mental age of thirteen plus minor cerebral palsy.”
She explained they’d been seeing each other for four years and that he was a capable and sensitive lover. “We call it practising,” she laughed, “for when he finds a girl to settle down with. He’s just a wonderfully kind human being and I adore him.”
His parents knew of and understood their relationship. Indeed, they had recently combined to help him through a gambling problem. As he was in his mid twenties with a full time job it was expected that one day he would make the transition from family dependence to living with a partner. Thus their relationship, she revealed, was considered a therapeutic step in the process.
It’s easy to rely on the stereotypical image of a prostitute –wham, bam, thank you, mam-just in it for the drugs and money. However this woman was seemingly drug free and had a genuine interest in her client’s welfare. So much so I imagined she would really miss him once he found a partner. Though given the evident amount of mutual care it would not surprise if they retained an on-going friendship.