Friday, September 12th, 2008
Kevin Sampsell is one of those guys so in line with SMITH’s ideals, we want to put him in our collective pocket and take him home. He’s runs a small press, works at an independent bookstore, and writes intensely personal true stories. Thus far, we’ve had to settle for sharing root beers with him in Portland, but today we get to proudly present him to all of you. The piece below is from Kevin’s upcoming memoir A Common Pornography, due out in early 2010. Enjoy this special sneak preview now, and look forward to an extensive interview when the book hits stores.
I wouldn’t say I had a prostitute obsession, but when I was sixteen—just old enough to drive my Chevy Malibu—my friend Matthew and I would cruise around east Pasco, looking at any cheap hooker the streets had to offer. We did so in silence, an unspoken pull toward what our small town had deemed “the ghetto.” The first few times we trolled this area, we just looked around, our imaginations coloring in details about every abandoned building and the discarded pieces of torn clothing that littered the cracked sidewalks in front of them. We eventually got comfortable enough to wonder aloud about how much the women charged for their services. We’d pull over and ask them sometimes, careful to strike some sort of balance between business-like firmness and non-threatening friendliness. The girls humored us, talking dirty and sometimes letting us touch their breasts. We must have looked out of place on those streets, two puberty-wracked white boys—me with my pimples and braces, Matthew with his red hair and freckles. We were virgins.
There was one thrilling night when we actually let two of the girls in my car. They wanted a ride to a hotel that was on the other side of the tunnel that separated Pasco from east Pasco. Matthew and I listened in on their conversation during the ten-minute drive. They talked about clothes, cigarettes, and carrying guns. When we let them out, they walked to our windows and kissed us like pimps.
This was around the time I started working my first job. I was a waiter at a small restaurant and made anywhere from ten to thirty dollars a night in tips, which I carelessly spent at the record store. I hadn’t had a girlfriend yet—in fact, had barely kissed a girl. But I was eager to have sex and had, coincidentally, been training for such an event for at least two years, masturbating regularly with my mom’s back-rubbing vibrator, timing the seconds it took for me to ejaculate, like some crazed scientist.
I had no prospects for girlfriends. I was shy and anxious and probably a little gross. But the prostitutes weren’t that far out of my league. Most were not pretty at all and actually rather unhealthy-looking. If they were better-looking, they probably would have been working in Seattle or Portland or even Spokane. That’s what I came to reason. Still, they were women who had sex a lot and, I imagined, could show me a thing or two. I wasn’t picky. I was desperate.
My sexual yearning came in two prominent fantasies: One was romantic love. I listened to sappy love songs by the likes of Lionel Richie, Peabo Bryson, and Luther Vandross and I cried my eyes out, wondering if I could ever experience the depth of love in their music. When they sang about happiness or heartbreak, I felt that happiness and heartbreak, minus the actual presence of a female. The other fantasy was simply fucking. As in, fucking anything that moved. Humping, screwing, boning. You get the picture.
I began forsaking Matthew and going out by myself. He was my only real hanging out friend at the time, so it was hard to pull it off sometimes. I’d get off work and call him to tell him I was just going home or had to work late. It felt a little like I was cheating on him.
One night I decided I’d had enough of my virginity. I hit the gloomy streets of Pasco, my Malibu crawling at a steady twenty miles per hour. There was no one out. I stopped at a taco stand and ate something disgusting, killing more time and shaking with nerves. That’s when I saw her, coming around a corner a block away. I jumped back in the car and drove over. For some reason, I couldn’t just walk down there. I had to have something to hide behind, a getaway. The car would make me feel like I was in a position of power.
As I got closer to her, I realized I didn’t have a choice. She was the one. I wasn’t going to wait any longer. I rolled my window down and asked her the question. She gave me a couple of options, like a menu or a list of the nightly specials. Fifteen dollars for a handjob, twenty-five for straight sex, and fifty bucks for a suck and fuck. Apparently, it was a bargain night. I told her I wanted what she called “straight sex” which sounded like a good introduction for a beginner like me. She got in my car and gave me directions to a motel. She was probably in her mid-20s, short and a little chubby. Her dark hair was styled unattractively and she looked bored. If this were a girl I saw at a school dance I wouldn’t have looked at her twice. Her name was Mary.
When we got to the motel, she opened her room door for me and went immediately to the bathroom. She called out to me to take out the money and take off my clothes. I took off all my clothes except my boxers and socks. She came out of the bathroom, wearing a bathrobe, and walked to the bed. She gave me a condom and told me I had to put it on. She lay on the bed and opened her robe, letting it stay under her like a beach towel. Her body was unfit and slack. More like a trucker’s body than a prostitute. I didn’t feel any hot sexual vibe from her at all, more like a “Can I smoke my Marlboro yet?” kind of vibe. I started to have second thoughts and wanted to renegotiate the price. I told her I was nervous because it was my first time, maybe hoping for some sort of discount. Her demeanor softened a little and she started cooing warm sentiments to me as she touched my penis with her hand to make me hard. I struggled with the condom, afraid I’d lose my erection if I didn’t get it on fast enough. I had experimented with a condom just days prior, putting one on and jacking off with it. My hand smelled badly for the rest of the day but I couldn’t help instinctively sniffing my fingers when no one was looking, like some of the boys who actually had girlfriends, who actually fingered their girlfriends before and after school.
I got on the bed and fell on top of her. I could barely feel myself inside her. I wasn’t really certain I was inside her. I wasn’t sure what to do with my hands or if I was allowed to kiss her. I didn’t know if I wanted to kiss her. I touched her breasts, they seemed saggy, unloved, the huge dark areolas looking like sad raccoon eyes. She said something strange to me, like, “It’s going to be alright” or “Move down a little.” I can’t really remember what was said but it was very little. As I tried to get into a comfortable position, a position where I could feel something, I noticed that she was looking over my shoulder. I heard the hum of a muted television. It was mounted, hospital-style, near the ceiling. She was watching something on TV while I tried to make her come alive. I kissed her neck and her shoulders to see I could regain her attention but she stayed focused on the screen. I still wasn’t sure if I was inside her. All I felt was air. I moved my hips carefully, so I wouldn’t cum before I even felt her. But I was already getting to that point. If she would have grunted once I’m sure I would have lost it in a second. I tried to focus on the fact that she was a woman and we were naked and she was underneath me in a bed and that this was what I had seen in dirty magazines and in late-night fuzzy pay-channel movies. For a moment, I removed myself from what was happening and tried to imagine what it looked like in a magazine or on a screen. Mary, this naked woman I was trying to have sex with, was still watching the TV above us. I compromised in my mind and imagined that she was watching us having a sex. That thought was enough to get me thrusting. I ejaculated quickly and unceremoniously. I tried to keep going but she asked me if I was done. I got out of the bed and thanked her.
As we left the motel, I felt embarrassed and gypped. She asked if I could drop her off at her corner. As we drove I thought she might say something about doing it again sometime, but she didn’t. She simply got out at her corner and slammed the door.
I drove home that night, not feeling changed at all, like I thought I might. I wasn’t about to tell Matthew about Mary and I didn’t feel like driving around those dark streets with him again.