I was doing exactly as I had been instructed, so of course, I was terrified.
The room was dimly lit, which was strange for a dressing lounge, but at least it was clean. The mirror in front of me fogged instantly, which meant I didn’t have to look at my face. I didn’t have to see my nervous excitement or the lines under my eyes from not sleeping the night before. Of course, he wouldn’t see any of that either. At least not really. I tried to count the seconds to distract myself, and I must have looked at my watch six times to be sure of the time. Without even realizing it I was constantly holding my breath before letting it out once more. I had thirty seconds before he was supposed to arrive, whoever he was. I had twenty more seconds of standing there in the empty room with my hands on the wall, my skirt around my waist, and my panties around my ankles. I had ten seconds left before I let a stranger fuck me.
Maybe I should start at the beginning because I’m still not sure I believe it. Who would? When Jessie told me of the service I didn’t believe her either, and besides, who would want it? Fantasy was one thing, but the reality was a whole different ball game and it sounded as horrifying as it did anything else. We were having drinks and oysters at Sel Rrose when she first told me, and I didn’t believe her for a second. She leaned back in her chair with a look on her face that reminded me of my mother after her third glass of scotch. It was bliss and stupidity all mixed into one smile, and I nearly spat out the oyster in my mouth.
“Why would you do that?” I asked, making sure to swallow the little oyster. It was too good to waste.
“You have no idea,” Jessie said. “It’s not even about the sex. I mean, it is, of course, but that’s not the whole thing. It’s about the freedom and the excitement. It’s about the risk and the fear and the adrenaline. Besides, Gary is about as interested in sex these days as he is in ballet.”
“So you just let a stranger fuck you. Do you at least get a drink out of it?” I was trying to laugh about it because it was all so ridiculous. I understand hook up culture, and I had my share of it in college and even for a year or two after. Tinder, OkCupid, hell, even eHarmony all have their place, but after a while, those hooks up are just exhausting. Listening to one man after another go on about things I don’t care about just for a half hour of mediocre sex just wasn’t worth it. I’d rather spend times with friends, go out for dinner with people I actually know, and end up in bed with my Hitatchi and no questions. It’s just so much simpler.
“It doesn’t work like that. Haven’t you listened at all? I told you, it’s not a dating service. It’s not about meeting people, in fact, it’s almost the opposite. The point isn’t to find a partner or even to have an affair. The entire point is to enjoy yourself, get exactly what you want, and not have to worry about anything else. When was the last time you just got off without having to think?”
“Last night. Come on, I’m not in high school, I can get myself off without having to worry about a damn thing.”
“That’s not what I mean, and you know it. But look, I was skeptical the first time too. I had to fill out a thousand forms, even go to their damn medical office in midtown, and even then I didn’t really get it. I assumed I would be talking to someone. That at least I’d chat with the guy, even if it was just to set up the details, but it doesn’t work like that.”
“Fine, so how does it work?”
“They do everything. I’m serious. You just answer the questions, and the rest is up to them. All I do is click the button on the app that says I’m ready, and within an hour I get directions. I can narrow it down a little if I want to, but that’s it. Do you want to see?”
“Are you serious?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at her. Jesse has always been adventurous, but this seemed like a bit much. I knew she wasn’t a stranger to having affairs either, but still. Anonymous sex just didn’t seem like her cup of tea.
“Totally. I can click the button right now and they’ll hook me up. I mean, it’s not cheap, but it’s quick and easy. Seriously, I could be getting laid in fifteen minutes without ever having to talk to anyone. It’s like Uber for sex. But without a chatty driver. It’s amazing.”
“You don’t talk to them at all?”
“You can’t. That’s part of the deal. I mean, you can say, oh yeah, just like that, fuck me harder. But you can’t try to have a conversation. They’ll report you and you’re out. That’s the deal. No exchange of information, no pictures, no numbers. You go, you fuck, and you leave. If you try to find out who someone is you’re out. If you ask them anything at all you’re out. It’s just sex. Quick and easy.”
“I can’t tell if you’ve lost your mind or if you’ve found something perfect. Either way, I don’t believe it though. How do they get away with it? And aren’t you worried about catching something? I mean, they wear condoms right?”
Jesse just looked into her drink and shrugged. I stared at her, my mouth open as she picked up another oyster and swallowed it. There was no way it wasn’t safe. This was 2016, not 1974. It was ridiculous.
“Jess, you’re not serious!”
“I told you, you have to get tested first. That’s the whole point, Tina. You don’t have to worry about anything. You just get to fuck a stranger.”
“Without a condom on?” I asked again, trying to make her admit it out loud. Trying to make her admit how fucked up the whole thing was. She just shrugged again and smiled at me like I was missing some inside fucking joke. It was ridiculous, and I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Dating was scary enough, but this was insane. I mean, sure, I like to get off, and nobody like’s condoms, but that’s not the point. But it wasn’t my life, and she wasn’t my wife. Thankfully.
“Let’s just have another glass of wine and talk about something else,” I finally said.
“Just tell me if you want the referral code. You have to be recommended to get in.”
“I think I’ll be fine without it,” I said, shaking my head.
“Whatever you say, Tina,” she said, waving the waiter over. She ordered another two glasses of wine and six more oysters before putting her phone on the table between us. I watched in silence as she clicked the softly glowing white button in the middle of the app. It turned soft red for just a moment and then it was gone, replaced by a short message I couldn’t read upside down.
“I have another half hour before I have to be at the Rivington Hotel. Cheers! It’s good to catch up. It’s been too long. You know how it is though. Married life, right?”
“Cheers,” I said, raising my wine glass and wondering how my old friend suddenly looked like the happiest girl in the world…