Love for sale. What a strange topic to be discussing at 11PM (or any time, for that matter). Most people were either asleep or out drinking. For my friend and I, this was the only time we could afford to spare each other- a small two hour window for coffee on a nondescript Sunday evening.
After the obligatory his and hellos, we settled into our normal routine. It was then that my friend announced that he may be in love.
“With who?” I asked, with an excited tone that surprised even me.
“Get this: a masseur.”
I like to think I have an open mind and that there is nothing left to shock me but I must admit I was a little floored. I knew he frequented certain “spas” but I didn’t think it would come to this point.
“Okay…” I stuttered. “How did this happen?”
“I’m not really sure myself,” he began. From the look on his face, I could tell he was editing. “It all began after I broke up with my last boyfriend. I was drunk and I felt like getting a massage.”
“And then?” I asked, feeling confused. “How do you go from getting a massage to falling in love?” I’m usually a fan of happy endings but we were talking about massages, not movies so my first instinct was to berate him. But as he told his story, I felt a little compelled to hear it out before I made any rash judgments.
“His name is JR although that could’ve been a pseudo. It began with a simple massage. Afterwards, he offered to sort of fool around and I said yes. We all know that drunken decisions are not the most thought-out.” He paused, lit a cigarette and continued.
“It was strange. I’ve been with other masseurs before but he was different. He was gentle and caring. It almost felt like we weren’t just doing it. We were being intimate.”
“But that intimacy came with a very steep price tag.”
“True. Be that as it may, I don’t know. When I went home, I felt really light. You know the feeling that you get when your crush talks to you for the first time? That’s what it felt like.”
“Maybe it was the alcohol.”
“I know. That’s what I thought too but then I came back a week later. I was sober this time and it was like… I don’t know. It was even better than the first time.” He had a smile on his face and in his tone.
“Better in what sense?” I asked.
“The massage was still good. We talked the whole time. We got to know each other a little more. We talked about our families, our lives… we talked about life in general. He’s a year younger than me but he’s married and stuff. He told me about his dreams and I couldn’t help but feel like he was showing me a side to him that even his closest friends didn’t know of. It felt like a first date, if you ask me. The sex was the same. It was still really gentle and beautiful. It just got a little strange when we, uh… when we kissed.”
“What?! You let a paid man kiss you?”
“It just felt right at that time. I heard that masseurs don’t kiss on the mouth. JR did and it was mind-blowing. Hands-down, best first kiss ever.”
“Okay. That’s weird.”
“I know! Wait till you hear the next part. I gave him the usual amount and a couple hundreds extra. I was feeling a little generous. He refused to accept it. They say money can’t buy you love. Apparently, it can. I have.”
The story continued with more details I’m not sure I can write about. They saw each other a couple more times. It seemed to me like my friend had found a new vice. JR started charging him again and my friend was spending a lot of money on this new love of his. Honestly, I was baffled. I didn’t even know where to begin. This was just wrong on so many different levels.
“I don’t know what to say. I mean, it sounds really good but if you think about it, maybe he’s just really good at his job. Good customer service and intimacy are two completely different things.”
“I know but if he was just faking it, it was worth every centavo. Growing up, I had a firm idea on the types of people who went to places like that. Never in a million years did I imagine I would become… one of them.”
He was right, too. He had a good job and he looked okay enough. He was never without dates. I never imagined he would be the type of person who would have to pay for sex, let alone do it repetitively. I shut up after that. It was apparent he was convinced to continue this… whatever with his masseur and if it made him happy then I should let him be.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he said. I guess he minded that I bit my tongue. “Money’s not the only currency, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’ve all paid for love. We’ve all been paid for love.”
“Yes, you have.” he interrupted. “In one way or another, we all have. Your last tryst is a perfect example. Don’t tell me that was love. You only liked the attention. I paid JR with money. You got paid with attention- lots and lots of attention. In theory, everyone loves for love’s sake but at the end of the day, our selfish side prevails.”
“With all due respect, I’m not sure I agree with you. There was more to my last thing than just plain attention. We genuinely got along. Sure, we had a strange ending but we had a lot of good times together.”
“It ended when you weren’t getting the attention you felt you deserved.”
Ouch. The truth hurts.
“I don’t know,” he continued. “What I do know is we often love for all the wrong reasons. Some people love because they’re lonely. Others do it to get ahead- no pun intended. Some do it for revenge. You’ve done it for attention. JR does it for money. I don’t really know where this is going but I think I owe it to myself to at least give it a few more tries before I dismiss it as nothing.”
“Just be careful, okay? You never know these days.” On some level, I understood him. In this city, everyone’s looking for love and if my friend thinks he’s found it then I should be happy for him.
That night though, as I lay sleepless in bed, I felt a bit unsettled. There was a question in my mind that I couldn’t afford to ask. I looked to the night sky for some clarity. I noticed that the moon was on its last quarter. It looked like a toddler’s unfinished project. Convinced that the answers were elsewhere, I closed my eyes and went to sleep.
Have you ever wondered what price you’ve paid for love?
Photo Credit: Daily Mail
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