Horizontal Lives

True Tales of the Infamous Courtesan: Persephone N. Hades and her Horizontal Life underground. How she got there, her mis-adventures and her struggle to re-surface.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Persephone and Electra Venture Above Ground

Although we didn’t meet until in our thirties, as neighbors in our apartment building, Electra and I both stood at similar crossroads when we were in our early twenties.

At twenty years old, Electra was in love with her boyfriend. A man she adored. A man with whom she had ecstatic satisfying sex. In fact, the first and only man she had had sex with at all.

At twenty years old, I, as ‘Lane’ at that time, was in love with my boyfriend. He wasn’t my first man nor was he my first love, nor was he my ‘soul-mate’, but I adored him and he was the first man I had an orgasm with and subsequently had ecstatic satisfying sex with.

Electra’s man, (I will call him Dimitrios) proposed marriage.

My man, Philip Seraphim, proposed marriage.

Electra accepted.

I declined.

And thus, like two trains speeding away on opposing tracks, our lives detoured.

Halloween 2003, I attend a party in our building. Filled to capacity with frumpy moms, sexy moms, bored daddies, tired nannies, obedient servants and flocks of howling young’uns, I enter the room. Through the mayhem, my attention, my focus is immediately magnetized by a stunning petite woman standing with a paper cup next to a man I assume to be her husband.

Her eyes, penetrating; her gaze intense and unwavering. Her tiny face with its pearl white skin, surrounded by a free flowing mane of raven black hair, is accented by an exclamation point of hot-cherry red on her lips. A black, tight mini-dress, low-cut and daring, encases her slender fragile frame.

But it is not these outer lures that draw me to her. There is something else. Something outside the visible.
Something I can’t name.

I make my way over. Introduce myself.
We chatter smiling, lightly laughing in the way people do at parties not really taking in the conversation nor having a conversation worth taking in.
And. Yet.

And yet.
When I crawl into bed that night, her visage haunts me keeping me from sleep.
What is it about her?
I’m not attracted to her sexually.
Am I?
No. I know myself.
I feel innately we long for the same thing, but I don’t know what that ‘thing’ is.
It’s something I can’t name.

Weeks or maybe months later, we meet again in the Lobby of the Building.
We share a drink. Or rather, she has tea and I have wine and a cigarette.
This time the conversation delves deeper. Mostly about sex.
And I lie to her.

A white lie.
I cannot tell her what I do for a living.
I can tell no one until I’m certain my secret is in a safe, reasonable, loving heart.
And I have made grave mistakes of judgment in the past that turned out to be almost deadly.
I err on the side of caution.
I wish I could tell her. I long to tell her as I suspect that she, of all people, would understand.
When she leaves I find myself regretting the lie and plagued with wondering why I so yearn to confess to her.

More time passes. We catch some moments together, here and there.
She talks a lot.
She talks without pausing.
She talks without sentence breaks or paragraph spacing.
She talks without editing. Without guile. With unsurpassed curiosity.
With trust that she will be understood, felt and known.
Her energy is forward. Forceful. Electric.
She is both invigorating and exhausting.
And utterly infectious.
When she is gone, I cannot stop thinking of her.
I love her.

At work soon after, a client tells me I talk a lot.
He tells me I talk without pausing.
He tells me my mind is always whirling.
He tells me I notice everything, feel all, respond to the slightest changes in breath.
He tells me I am a force of Nature, both invigorating and exhausting.
Why do you see me then? I ask him, slightly hurt by his comments.
Because I can’t get you out of my thoughts, he says.
It’s hard not to love you.
Like bad weather? I say.
Some people chase Hurricanes, he says.

I call Electra. I want to see her. I need to see her.
I am desperate to name what I could not name before.

Dimitrios is out of town on business.
What she desires most is a night out, not as a ‘married mom of two young daughters’, but as a sexy, feline woman flirted with and lusted after.
It is the last thing I wish. I have my fill of men all day everyday and although I love them, the last event I want to partake in, is a game of cat and mouse with rich boys at bars.
But I understand.

A Cigar Bar on the Upper East Side where smoking is still legal, Grandfathered in under the Cigar statute.
Chosen in compromise: I can smoke and there will be plenty of men with whom to flirt.

Surprisingly sparse for a Saturday night, we easily find seats at the bar and are surrounded by mostly individual men in suits and attitude.
I order Champagne, finishing my first flute before she’s had her third sip.

She is telling me she has taken my advice. That she has begun to write. That she’s writing all the time, late at night. That the writing is giving her a release, an outlet, lifting her life out of the mundane she feels is drowning her. She is telling me what she is writing about. Female issues. Issues of Beauty. Issues of Love. Questions of relationships with men, especially with her husband. Writing about sex. Writing about being a stay-home mom.

Suddenly I understand.

She is Me and I am Her.
This is who I would be had I chosen Philip Seraphim.
And perhaps, maybe not in my same profession, but she would be as I am now had she not chosen Dimitrios.
The ‘something’ rises to the surface and takes a name:
We are Kindred Spirits.
Twin Souls on different journeys munching on grass we both feel is greener on the opposite side of the fence.

Wheels are turning inside me. Wheels of a Mill, picking up water, dumping it, churning, churning, picking up and turning, faster and faster and faster until I burst.

"I am a Courtesan." I blurt out, interrupting her.

"I am a Courtesan and you should write a Blog. I have a Blog. We should write a Blog together. Don’t you see? We’re the same—so similar; we just chose opposite so long ago. And now. Now here you are. Here you are which is where I would be had I chosen Philip. Sometimes I think I should have. I look at you and I wonder if I should have. You have two beautiful children and a husband you have great orgasmic sex with and few worries about money. I could have been you. And you could have been me. Don’t you think that would make an interesting Blog? The almost-same woman writing from opposite sides of a fence all based on one choice made so long ago?"

"What’s a Courtesan exactly?"

"I see mostly men for a set period of time and in that time I love them up and hopefully put a spring in their step, or as one client said, a hitch in their giddy-up."

"Do you have sex?"

"Most of the time. 97% of the time, yes."

"My god. I think that’s fantastic! I always wondered what that kind of life was like. And I always wondered what the girls were thinking while they were doing it, you know? And is that what you’re Blog is about?"

"Sort of. Actually, for a Blog that’s about someone in the ‘sex industry’, there seems to be surprisingly little sex mentioned. I’m not sure why it’s coming out that way."

Two men, mid-fifties, divorced or single I surmise, sidle up to the backs of our barstools. Based merely on proximity, one man begins chatting to Electra and the other to me.
Several minutes into the about-nothing conversations, Electra’s guy interrupts changing it into a four-way discussion.

"This is your friend?" the bigger guy, the one over Electra’s barstool says.

"She’s my friend." I smile.

"What do you girl’s do?" the graceful looking man behind my barstool asks.

"We’re writers." I say. Electra gives me a shy look.

"She’s gorgeous." The big guy says to me.

(Why would any man tell one woman that another is gorgeous? Is it because he thinks he can lose one player and by doing so, boost his score with the other? Always confuses me.)

"She is. She’s stunning." I reply, meaning it.

"She’s unbelievable." The big guy says.

"You know it." I say.

"And she’s breaking my heart." The big guy says.

"Is she? So soon? Give her time." I tease.

"Aw no no. That’s it. I’m done. I only make the offer once."

"What did you offer?"

"You wanna know what she turned down? You wanna know?"

"I do. I do."

"I asked her to go out to dinner with me next Saturday and she turned me down cold."

Electra is giggling, looking down at her hands, tilting her eyes up to meet my gaze, mouth agape silently pleading for a way out. She doesn’t want to have to say she’s married. She doesn’t want to have to say she’s a mom. She just wants a night out to flirt. Girls just wanna have fun.

"But boy, that was fast." I nudge him.

"Why? What?"

"You guys were only talking a few minutes when you asked her out to dinner. That’s pretty fast."

"But look at her."

"I know."

"Look at her."

"I know."

"She’s amazing. How can I let that go? You know what I would do with this girl?"


"I’d marry her and set her up in an apartment and handcuff her to the wall. I’d never let her out. Gorgeous."

Interesting plan.

"He just didn’t ask me to dinner." Electra speaks finally.

"What did he ask? What did you ask?"

"I told her" he jumps in before she can continue, "I would give her a month’s salary just to go to McDonalds with me."

"Wow. That’s some offer. So what’s that? Like Ten thousand for Micky Dees?"

"You’d do it wouldn’t you? Right now. Wouldn’t you?" he says to me.

"Sure. For ten thousand dollars I’d do and eat anything you wanted."

"Lets go. Right now. Let’s go."

"You have to pay first. Let’s go to the Bank."

We are all laughing now.

"Are you a Capricorn?" I ask the Big guy.

"Why? Are you into all that Horoscope crap?"

"A little. Are you?"


"When’s your birthday?"

"January 16th."

"Hmm. Yep. Capricorn."

The graceful guy (Name: Richard. Sign: Libra) speaks,
"How did you guess he was Capricorn?"

"I don’t know. Just the way he’s so goal and business oriented even about romance."

"C’mon. Don’t turn me down." The big guy is pleading with Electra.
She’s penetrating me with a laser stare.

"You know what it is?" I say. "It’s nothing personal. Its not you. She has a boyfriend."

He looks pissed. He reaches past her shoulder stubbing out the ashes of his cigar.

"This is what I always say. I always say, you can’t meet anyone nice in a bar."

"That’s not fair. She’s nice. She just has a boyfriend."

"So she’s sittin’ here deceiving people."

"No. She just wanted to go out with a friend, maybe meet a sexy man and enjoy her femininity and sexuality with a little flirtation. What’s wrong with that? That’s joie de vie! It’s good for the goose and its food for the gander. You get to get a boner and she gets all titillated and appreciated and everyone goes home feeling better about themselves. It’s fun."

A cross-scowl is creating a mask of his face.

"Oh Capricorn man. Let it go. It just life and fun. It doesn’t always have to be ‘close the deal’, does it?"

We are all laughing, all light hearted enjoying the joke until he says,
"Not in your case."

"What does that mean?"

"Someone like you—"

"What do you mean, ‘someone like me’?"

"I know what type you are."

"What type am I?"

"You’re the type that sits home on a Saturday night eating popcorn, watching Mystery movies on late night TV."

I guffaw almost choking on my Champagne, of which now I have had four glasses to Electra’s half-glass and am feeling a bit bold and yet extraordinarily sensitive.
Electra’s eyes and mouth are wide as if she has her finger in an electrical outlet.



"I look like the type who sits at home eating popcorn and watching Mysteries on a Saturday night?"

He doesn’t answer, just stares at me with a hateful sneer.

"Thanks a lot." I say quietly turning my back to him, lighting a cigarette.
And as the flame burns the tip of the tobacco, my thoughts collect the day seeing my two clients paying me thousands of dollars just to be in my company.

I hate ‘real life’. And I hate the way men treat me in ‘real life’.
At the very least, it’s confusing.
At most, it’s as painful as a stabbing murder.

"So you won’t go out with me?" he’s saying to Electra.
She shakes her head, coy and smiling.

"Here." He hands me a card.

"What’s this?"

"My business card. If she won’t go, I guess I can settle for second best."

My mouth drops. I suck in a huge heap of loud air.

"Second best?! Second best?"
I rip his card into tiny, teeny tiny confetti, drop it in the ashtray and light it aflame.

"I’m not speaking with you anymore." I say turning my back to him, watching the fire die to ash.

"We were gonna go over to Bosco’s if you girls want to come with us?" Richard-the-Libra says.

"No. Thank you."

"You don’t want to come?" Capricorn asks.
Electra looks at him, at me and shakes her head ‘no’.

"You can’t meet anyone nice in a bar. See I told you that." Capricorn hits Libra’s shoulder.

"Are you kidding? How can you meet two women, obviously good friends, insult one and expect the other to want to be with you? Where’s the logic?"

They leave.
Electra’s face is vibrating.

"God! I can’t believe what a jerk that guy was to you."

"I know. He was. Why was he?"

"I don’t know. Men can be jerks sometimes can’t they?"

"Oh yeah."

"You know what I like about going out like this and meeting guys like that? It’s like a fix for me, you know?"

I raise my eyebrows, questioning.

"Because I go and then I meet a jerk like that and then I go home and see what I’ve got and I really appreciate it all over again, you know? And then when I get disenchanted again after a while and I go out again and I see one of those guys again, it’s like a fix. You know what I mean?"

"I do."

She goes home and feels better about her choice.

And she should.

I go home after nights like these, (which is why I rarely venture above ground) and feel a profound sense of despair.
Despair I usually manage to keep at bay by staying away, staying far away deep in the bowels of Hades.

But tonight, I am rescued.

I am rescued one: because I am too tired and tipsy to dwell; two: because I am so tired and tipsy that I immediately fall asleep (snoring I’m sure) and three: because I come home the next evening from work to a flurry of emails from Electra:

From: Electra
To: Persephone

Thanks sweety.

Guess what, this guy I know, is so interested in you. He used to work around the corner from us. I was speaking to him today. He was describing you. I was describing you. He says 'she has big breasts'. I say 'yes, and a tiny body'. We are trying to determine whether we are speaking about the same person. He says 'she has dirty blonde hair', I say, 'do you mean blonde, strawberry hair?', he says 'yes, yes'. Whenever you were more red I guess. I say, 'she has large lips', he says 'yes'. I say 'she a beautiful, tiny nose', he says 'yes'.

He actually has brought you up a number of times. He is the serious type. He knows how to look after a woman too! He is splitting up with his wife. She is leaving him. He seems very giving from what I know of him. I guess he is a free man now and wants to have a nice time, but if the right girl came along, he would commit to a serious relationship. He is that type of guy. He also doesn't care about people's backgrounds. He is quite open.

Anyway, he always talked about this gorgeous girl in my building. I said 'I think you're talking about my best friend'. He goes 'really'. I go 'yeah'. I told him what a wonderful person you are and all that kind of stuff. The only thing is, he isn't a really big, huge man that you like. He is the opposite. But then again, you never know, you still might really like him.

I don't know. I think he is quite cute. He has that All-American next door appeal. I would describe him as the 'pretty boy' type. Actually, he is Jewish also. The fair type. Not tall, but a 'tall heart'. Tell me what you think. He would like to go out for drinks. Anyway, whatever, I thought I would mention it to you. I think I told him that if you found the right guy, you would probably settle. So there you have it some goss for the day.

Then another email:
From: Electra
To: Persephone

Now it's 1.20am. I just read your last three bloggs. They were great. I'm telling you, they are very entertaining. It's like when I'm reading my latest favorite book. My eyes wide open, waiting to see what you are about to say next. It's so fantastic. Damn when is the next episode. Have to wait. It is really strange. It's like watching something on t.v. and you have to wait until next week. You write so, so well. I love what that editor or whoever wrote. I feel like I am getting to know you better from your stories. I know what it is like when you're young and something happens to you. It sticks in your head for the rest of your life.

Funny thing is, why doesn't all the positive things stick. You know, everytime someone tells you how beautiful you are, gorgeous, stunning. Funny thing is, if a woman says it, you somehow think it is believable 50%. Why would a woman lie, you would like to think. What does she have to gain from it. But men, well, anything a man says, somehow we are made to believe that they are just lying. I guess it comes from our mothers. Don't believe the boys, he will only trick you.

I've always believed that our world would be much easier for males and females if we just decided to say that having sex with lots of people (if one desires) is okay. If the men didn't treat us like sluts and talk about us like that, then they would for sure get laid a lot easier. Do you know what I mean. If I as a girl, knew I wasn't going to be judged by the guy, society then everybody would be happy. No games, no bullshit. Just great lovemaking. I'd get off, he'd get off and no-one cares. Guys would be a lot happier, if it were like that. They created the mess, so I guess we should let them suffer. We as girls could get laid a hundred times over in a day, they can't. I wonder why??

Anyway, your writing is brilliant. I would definitely buy a book if I were to skim through a book with text like that. I often buy books like that. I flick through, find interesting text and make a decision. I'm telling you, push it. I'm as ordinary as one could be, (sort of) and I love what you are writing. It would sell. No doubt about it. There are lots of people like me who like something out of the ordinary. People would be fascinated, it's a different world. The way you put it, is so fascinating. Even I, am getting into your head, and it is making me think so differently. I can't explain it. You write in a way, that shows you as a real person, not just someone who is there to provide a service that no-one values. From what your colleagues are seem to be saying, it is so obvious that you do something so different to them and different that society even thinks. Like your Asian girlfriend, people think of it like that. In and out. You're not like that. You're a threat to them. I reckon.

See, that's why you could write a brilliant book. You're not one of them. I understand you. You are a Courtesan and nothing less. I understand where that belief comes from you. Most would think what's the difference, but from the way you work, there is a huge difference. Do what you do best (including all your other talents, writing etc.). You're a smart cookie. It is obvious. That is threatening to others. You have sex appeal, you're beautiful, and you’re smart. The world punishes you for that. Doesn't it suck!!

Anyway honey, I find your bloggs entertaining. I'm not even reading my books anymore. Haven't picked one up for a few weeks now. Keep writing, I love it

love me xx

And suddenly I am new. The words of the night before vanish.

From: Persephone
To: Electra

Oh my! Thank you for the 'goss'! How nice to be thought of by someone anonymous! Kinda tingly!

I am in the middle of writing a blog about you and about us.

I can barely express through words how much your even reading the blog, much less allowing it to affect you, means to me…

It is the only creative outlet I have left in my life and it means so much when someone I love takes the time to explore it.
So many of my friends haven’t cared to even peruse it at all.

Through our friendship, we have the rare opportunity to look back in time and see ‘what would have happened had I taken a different path, when standing ‘neath the crossroads had chosen the other road'.

We rescue each other just by being together.
That is the Bliss of finding a Kindred Spirit.

We are Known, we are Felt, we are Understood.
And that is the ‘something’ between us I knew existed but couldn’t name.

Thank you beyond words…

I love you.


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At 5:39 PM, Blogger Mellow Blue said...

Dear Perse...

Sitting here reading your blog again while I should be working. Bad boy am I! Electra hit a number of things right on. Like how a man feels remembering you (how does she know????). Or like your blog replacing a favorite book. On the jerk at the cigar bar, for some reason we (men) all put on a face in trying to pick up a woman. It's awkward for most of us and ugly for many (as you've found out). And sometimes maybe even expected by you (women). Anyway, maybe that's why you find the underground times better. (And I do too.) In that setting I think we (I know me) can be honest, not worry how we're coming across, or about rejection, or worry about promises we can't keep, or raising expectations, or lies. With you I can just be myself and do what makes me feel good (part of which is doing what makes you feel good). Make any sense??? (Needless to say although you might find me in the cigar bar you won't find me hitting on women --- whether that's good or bad you tell me.)

Much love!


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