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The Punter's Progress



'Anyone who's ever said "excuse the mess, my house looks like a brothel" has obviously never stepped inside one.'


So began Vivienne Reid's column in the third and sadly final issue of Australia's Black Magazine (Brimstone Press, November 2008). At the time I read her article, I had neither stepped- or indeed pushed my wheelchair- inside such an establishment, nor did I believe I would ever have a reason to. Through teenage years and beyond, I told myself and anyone who would listen that I didn't want or need sex or any other kind of intimacy and, if a time ever came when I felt I did want it, I didn't deserve it because I was something Different. Something Other.


That sense of difference and otherness is a badge of honour I'll wear until the day I drop, but I'm relieved to say my attitude has mellowed quite a bit in recent times. My life underwent a drastic change in the last days of 2013, and from the ashes of that personal tragedy arose a new self. I cried in front of strangers as I held my dying mother's hand, I let people hug me and held them even closer in return. All the emotions I thought were either beyond or beneath me rushed to the surface and, rather than overwhelm me as I feared they would, they showed me I had the same desires and feelings as anyone. I wanted, and needed, to acknowledge and explore them.


I couldn't do this in the traditional way because I'd shut myself off from the possibility of romantic relationships. Despite a few fleeting crushes and one long distance unrequited love who will haunt me for the rest of my life, to this day I have never managed to 'couple up' with anyone. When it seemed all my classmates were passing furtive notes to the objects of their affection, stealing kisses and fumbling desperately with school uniform blouses, I did my homework, listened to music, read Sherlock Holmes and watched Doctor Who. Three of those things are still important to me but, even as I enjoy them today, I wonder if the hours I spent on them in my youth could have been put to better use locking buttery fingers with someone over a bucket of popcorn in a dark cinema or trying for a clumsy snog behind the bike sheds. I won't know that for certain until some clever sod perfects time travel, but many of the professional ladies I've been fortunate enough to meet since the end of January have done a fine job plugging, as it were, some of the gaps in my knowledge and experience. You know who you are and I thank you.


As long as the providers and punters are of legal age and sufficient mental competence to give informed consent, I have never had a problem with the notion of sex for sale. Years of reading crime novels have exposed me to the usual horror stories of abuse, human trafficking, drug use and exploitation within the industry. I have no doubt this goes on, largely in other parts of the world I hope, but I also believe it's wildly exaggerated by the sort of people who fly into a fit of moral outrage over the merest suggestion of anyone getting their rocks off in exchange for an envelope full of notes. It's no coincidence that many of those same people identify as either 'Christian' or politically conservative, the kind who would limit sexual activity of any kind to once a year with lights off and nighties on, between husbands and wives only. That line of thinking is just as restrictive as mine once was, but at least I only put such ridiculous limits on myself.


Having missed the relationship boat through my own stubbornness and stupidity, I believe it's now too late to settle into my own version of happily ever after. I'm still not sure I want one because I've got used to my own company and have grown far too set in my ways to let anyone else into my world and my space for longer than a few hours or, if I feel particularly adventurous, a whole night. The ladies I've come to know give me the sense of physical closeness I've long wanted and left even longer unacknowledged, they talk and laugh with me and, as the song says, they 'show me things they never told me in school.' There is no sensible reason why they should be treated as criminals for the services they offer. A tolerant and respectful society ought instead to recognise what they do and reward them for it.


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An interesting read, thanks.


On the relationship front I suspect a healthy dose of the “never say never” attitude will serve you well.


An older gent in my life found love and sex again at sixty, and so began his roller-coaster ride of acting like a teen and having affairs all over the place.


Prior to that he had his mind firmly made up about what he liked and what he didn't need.


Maybe go to a Confest and meet some people that can see past superficial appearances and behaviour ;)


Good luck with it though.

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Thanks, Cap'n. I guess you could say it took me longer than most to twig that 'I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.' 

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