On this fine June evening, I’d like to raise a glass (of champagne, PBR, kombucha, cherry limeade, or whatever else is in your merry cup) to the odd jobs. To the jobs that got us through and the jobs we barely got through. To the kettle-clanging coffee mavens and the primped and pastied pole goddesses: this one’s for you.
Here’s to the men who bought my underwear sight unseen off a Craigslist ad: You taught me the true value of airing out my dirty laundry.
To the slummy scam artists running focus groups for slot machines at the lunch hour: your only real gamble was hiring a bohemian like me to lie on your spreadsheets.
To the saint who invited me to taste test 8 different flavors of vanilla ice cream for the going rate of $50: you are proof that miracles are possible. For the rest of my life, I can look each and every little girl in the face and say with utmost sincerity, “If I got paid to eat ice cream, then you can be prime minister of Mars when you grow up.”
To the parents of the children whose parties I was Ariel (and Belle, Cinderella, and Aurora) at: keep loving your kids as hard as you can. I’ve performed for well-behaved creatures in 65-million dollar estates and spaced-out monsters in Riverside community centers. Your actions can and do shift who they become.
To the man who gave me $100 to stand in naked on a film set as a stunt double for an eyeball-licking special effect: you are a beautiful excuse to be dirty. You taught me that the fetish scene isn’t all whips and chains, but licks and brains.
To the glitter-afflicted make believers who let me pounce on them and whisper mischief into their ears in nightclubs across Los Angeles while dressed as a whimsical space alien: keep the channel open. Your ability to play in the face of iniquity will save you.
To the tables I waited and the bars I tended: you were six years of the best practice a girl could ever ask for when it comes to the golden rule – to treat others the way that they would wish to be treated.
To the coworker who stole over a hundred dollars from my purse when I was a hostess in east Texas making $3.50 an hour: thank you. I am learning to let go. I hope you needed the money more than I did. I hope you bought yourself something that finally made you smile. I hope your toddler earned himself something sweet.
To the man who turned me into a smoking model: you deserve everything for setting a match to my flame. With you, I could be desired, taboo, beautiful, powerful, and wanton. You taught me how to lean into what provoked me and come out giddy and alive. I learned that not all producers are sleazy Burt Reynolds types with caterpillar mustaches and too much cologne; some of them drink green juice out of pristine, white townhomes in Santa Clarita and talk your ear off about multivitamins and the Italian Riviera.
To anyone who ever watched me perform an aerial act: thank you for letting me get high in public. The pleasure was all mine.
To all the men who paid me for conversation: I hope you found what you were looking for. I hope the loneliness hurts less. The fact that so many of you exist means we have a long way to go. This city eats people. I hope I was a good shield, if only for an evening.
To the 92-year-old man in the white hat who plucked me out of an interview and changed my life forever: you are equal parts class and crass. I love you to the moon and back.
And to you, dear reader: you are a silver wizard of the best kind. Thank you for giving me my life’s privilege week after week: an audience.
My 20s were a time machine, a whirling eddy of 9 lives like a cat on a bad acid trip. Here’s to getting older and wilder. Wisdom is not the domain of the educated.
May we all turn our odd careers into awed years. Salud!