|Anne Francis – From the Memoirs of an Old Man
I suppose I should backtrack a bit and dissertate some on my first foray into the World's Oldest Profession, for it is also how I gave up my virginity. I’m not ashamed to say that, I’ll have you know. I’m not sure I’d recommend it to young men today, but I’m from a different time, don’t you see?
Early in my senior year of high school, some friends and I decided, one weekend, to travel up to Indiana State University, attend a football game, and check out the college scene. My pocket was still full of the money that I had earned doing rudimentary farm and orchard work over the summer. We all, no doubt, put forth the most positive spin possible to our parents about what the accommodations would be like for us up there. I told my mother that we wanted to stay overnight in order to attend some parties. She, no doubt, had visions of wholesome young sorority girls. Actually, a friend’s older brother, who was all of about nineteen, was to be our host at a large, rundown old house out in the country that he shared with his schoolmates. Several of them were just bums and draft dodgers, though. It turned out to be a place overflowing with beer, whiskey, and young women taking a respite from parental supervision.
Terre Haute, IN, was a town that was notoriously vice-ridden in those days; a "Saturday night town," it was called. As far as I know, it still is. After the game, and at least a dozen beers each, we all decided to go to a whorehouse. That was something that had been vaguely in the planning stage for some time. Larry’s brother and his bud took us into what appeared to be an ordinary residential neighborhood, full of large old houses that were surrounded by gigantic old trees. It was called Mulberry St. It was right near the big highway and was lined with cars on both sides. The Heat patrolled constantly, but we were told not to worry, as they were in on it and would not bother us as long as we didn’t cause trouble (or get very unlucky). I was scared to death but understood, on some level, that this was something that had to be done. I was seventeen; it was time, and this was probably the easiest and safest way. Besides, opportunities like this hadn’t come along before. We would later discover that Evansville had its share of brothels as well, but we were not, as yet, plugged in there.
I should clarify that I was not at all afraid of girls or of the act that I was going there to perform with one of them; that part of it was very exciting to me. But it was also illegal and immoral, and I knew that my puritan parents would be destroyed if they knew what a degenerate son they had raised. They were extremely important to me, but at some point priorities must evolve, don’t you see?
It was very dark and misty when we arrived at about nine o’clock or so. Lennie led us all on foot into an alley and to a place where we saw a light over a door. Every dog in the neighborhood seemed to be welcoming us. I guess that’s why such places are often described as public nuisances. We went through a gate in a high wooden fence and up a sidewalk. He rang the lighted doorbell, and the madam answered. We were in luck. As she let us in, she mentioned to us that for a football weekend, it had been a bit slow. There were, altogether, about five or six of us ranging in age from seventeen to perhaps twenty-one. We were all strapping lads though, and so our ages were never in question.
She showed us into a big living room where we sat on couches and in chairs, waiting our turns. There were a number of other men waiting as well. I wondered what it would have been like on a night when business was brisk. It was actually a pretty nice place. There was a large console TV that was showing the musical Oklahoma in color. Our family didn’t have color yet at that time. In fact, I can remember when we didn’t even have television. We would sit around in the evening listening to Fibber McGee and Molly and even President Truman speaking over the radio. One time I saw the madam arrange a stack of magazines and fan them out invitingly on a table.
I will interject an exchange that I heard between the madam and several of her regulars. She was telling them that it was getting hard, in the good economy, to find the right kind of operative for her establishment. If they weren't pretty enough, they couldn't attract clientele. But if they were too pretty, they kept getting married on her.
A guy, who was drunk as hell, got into an argument with another guy. The madam came running in with a broom and used it to evict him from the building. The rest of us laughed our asses off at the sight of the ruckus. In fact, that burst of levity did a lot to put me at ease with the situation in which I found myself. Somebody said that had the madam’s efforts been unsuccessful in evicting the man, there was someone listening from another room that would have come out and taken care of the matter, definitively. Every brothel has such a dude, but you only see him under extreme circumstances. A sense of decorum is important to maintain, don’t you see?
Scantily clad girls in high heels would enter the room, and the next guy in line would follow her to another part of the house. You never saw her previous client because he had been shown to a door that was out of sight. I have to mention, the first couple of times that a comely young prostitute entered the room and asked, “Who’s next?” it stirred my emotions in a way that was altogether new to me. Finally, a young woman walked in and engaged the madam in a short conversation. As I watched her, I decided that she was the girl for me. I started doing the mental arithmetic to calculate that possibility. She was wearing glasses, which was of no significance at all, but she was easily the best looking girl that I had seen there. She made me think of the actress Anne Francis who had a TV show at the time.
Her conversation at an end, the girl turned to the room and asked who was next in line. Incredibly, no one got up. She cast her gaze about the room, cocked her hip, and then asked, “Well, is anyone going to bed?” Still, no one went forward, as she looked about. It was clearly not my turn, and I too glanced around, noting that all of the men were looking away from her. I began to feel a sense of outrage at how they seemed to be dissing this young woman. Not only was she just trying to earn a living there, but she was as attractive a girl as shit bums like us had a right to expect for what we were going to have to pay for her favors. I was embarrassed, for her and for the rest of us as well.
After what seemed like a very uncomfortable period of time, the girl shrugged and seemed to accept her ostensible humiliation. There was a small table and one chair next to the TV set with a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, and an ashtray laying on it. She sat down there, crossed her legs provocatively, and went for a cigarette.
I couldn’t stand any more of this. I stood up and went to her. She did not acknowledge my approach and seemed preoccupied with her cigarette. “I want to be with you, Miss,” I said to her. My voice may have cracked a bit as I spoke. The girl paused but did not look at me right away. Then she looked up and into my eyes.
I will never know exactly what she was thinking, but I would bet that it was something akin to, “This is your lucky day, kiddo!” She placed the unlit cigarette back in its pack, arose, and walked out of the room without saying a word. I followed her, very pleased with myself. I was pleased with myself because I had taken action, and that action was going to get me the woman of my choice with whom to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
When we got to her room and closed the door, she explained to me that her fee was five dollars for a “quickie.”
As I retrieved my wallet and handed her the money, she asked, “What’s your name, darlin?”
“Warren,” I answered, neglecting, in my nervousness, to ask her name.
“I’m Wanda,” she said with a smile. “Warren and Wanda. That’s cute, don’t you think?” she asked, and then not waiting for an answer, “We should go to the prom or something.” We both chuckled. Of course, that led to her next question: “How old are you, Warren?”
“Seventeen. How old are you?”
“Twenty-one,” she answered. I had no reason to doubt her, but she could have said thirty and I’d have believed her.
We went through the obligatory examination and cleanliness chores that the older boys had told me about. It was very exciting. Then, as I got undressed, she threw off her high heels, took off her negligee, pulled off her panties, and I got more and more excited. The last thing she took off was her black-framed glasses, and that was the sexiest part of it for me. She gave me a look that seemed to ask for an opinion. The look that I gave her in return was not voluntary, but it had to have expressed my sincere approval. Her reaction told me that. Wanda was not a beauty queen, but she’d have been worth a lot more than five bucks if I’d have had it to give to her. She was not as pretty as Anne Francis (Honey West), but she made me think of her.
“Is this your first time with us?” she asked, as I pulled off my last item of clothing, my jockey shorts. It occurred to me that no female had seen me naked since my mother had perhaps ten years prior. (Several had fondled me outside my jeans, but they were just kids.) God, what a little exhibitionist I was becoming, reveling in my five foot eleven inch, hundred and seventy pound, weight-trained grandeur! The question also prepared me for another that I hoped would not come.
“Yes,” I answered.
Wanda then lay back on the bed and beckoned for me to join her. As I began to do so, I remembered something important. I got back up and went for my wallet. “I need to use a rubber. Do you mind?”
“Not at all,” she smiled. “We prefer it.” She had to have been totally amused by my naďveté. I applied the condom, and she watched attentively. It struck me what an incredibly erotic experience it was turning out to be already. I then got on the bed, and as I began to mount her for our missionary transaction, she wrapped her arms around my neck and whispered the dreaded question – “Have you ever fucked a girl before, Warren?” You cannot imagine how exciting that was for me. These days, the F-word is everywhere in use, by men and women alike. At the time, I had never heard a woman use it in my life.
“No,” I whispered back. There was no point in trying to bullshit Wanda, and I was actually relieved that it was out in the open.
“I will show you, baby,” she whispered. Again, being addressed in such fashion by such a woman was exciting beyond words. It was indeed my lucky day.
Mind you, this was the fall of 1965. My knowledge was anecdotal and purely instinctive. There had been several instances of simulation, through our clothing. A friend had once seen a porn loop at his uncle’s house and had described it to me, but that sort of thing was exceedingly rare in those days. Wanda did most of the work, and it was only much later that I fully appreciated what she had given to me. It was a lot more than a quickie. Not only did she talk me through it, but she showed me how a woman responds who is really getting what she needs. Wanda did not just let me fuck her for five bucks; she did me as good as anyone has ever since. “Work with me, honey,” she said at one point and showed me exactly what she was getting at.
Patty Harmon crossed my mind. No, I was not fanaticizing about sex with Patty, but the experience was going down in a similar way to my dance performances with her. A fantastic young woman was giving me the benefit of her experience and expertise in matters of paramount importance.
I would never forget the smell of her. She was wearing perfume, and there was no way those girls could actually bathe between clients. I guess it really was a nasty business, but her scent was thoroughly intoxicating. I won’t go into detail, but cleanliness, where it counted, was definitely their main priority. I’d been told that when you were finished, if they liked you and there was time, they invited you to use their private bathrooms, but since I was using a rubber, it would not seem important to waste time with that.
It was also a good thing that I was using a rubber because I’d not have lasted five seconds without it. At seventeen erectile dysfunction is inconceivable, but, as we know, there is another problem that can rear its ugly head. That didn’t happen, thank goodness. I don’t know if she actually got off or not, but at the time it seemed like she did. In short, the thing was out of the way; it could not have gone any better, and it turned out to have been the best five bucks I’ve ever spent. Talk about starting off on the right foot!
Afterward, Wanda helped me clean myself up. As we were getting dressed and I was preparing to leave, we conversed like we’d become fast friends. I noted that to show me out she donned her glasses, shoes, and a man's shirt. I told her that my friends and I were up from Evansville for the game. She asked who had won the game, and I told her that State had won. She told me that she was acquainted with a number of the professors at the school.
There was something that I wanted to tell her, but I couldn’t seem to. As I grabbed the doorknob to leave, she stopped me, and I blurted it out. “Those guys out there, Wanda. They were assholes for not wanting to be with you. My God, you’re wonderful! You look like Anne Francis, for Christ’s sake.”
“I’ll take that any day!” she responded with a big happy smile. There was a short pause; the wheels were turning in her head; she had something to say as well and was having a hard time getting it out, as had I. “You’re a sweet kid, Warren. I want you to know, it was an honor. Please come back and see me when you’re in Terre Haute.”
Even at the time, I had no illusions about Wanda actually having been attracted to me. Her magnificent performance was payback for my having rescued her. I’d been her champion. She had suffered a rejection of sorts out in the living room by the other men, and I had immediately jumped up and helped her to restore her dignity.
I’ve never understood why no one went to her. Even my friends had no explanation for their indifference to Wanda. Her glasses? That’s hard to believe. Many times I’ve wondered whether or not she’d been sent to me by some unseen but benevolent force.
Years later, I realized that my encounter with Wanda had been a double-edged sword, as it were. I’d come away euphoric; I’d glimpsed the Promised Land; sex was wonderful, and women were like Wanda had been with me. Then for a number of years, most of my experience came with nubile young whores for whom guys like me and my friends must have seemed like breaths of fresh air, compared to most of their clients. Indeed, I’ve seen prostitutes blush when I chose them over their competition, and the competition make good-natured but catty remarks about the wisdom of my selection. But then when that phase of my life ended, and my sexual experiences came with regular girls, I saw that women are at their best with guys that they’ve just met. If you’ve know them for two hours or two weeks, they’re great and may even approach Wanda’s standard of excellence. But then after you’ve been paying their bills for a period of time, indeed have given them unlimited access to your bank account, and being absolutely faithful to them, I might add , , , well, you know.
I never did make it back to Terre Haute, but you can imagine how often Wanda has been in my thoughts over the past forty-five years. I’ve even wondered how her life turned out, though I only knew her for half an hour. In fact, I still see her once in a while . . . in old Twilight Zone episodes.