oday, a piece in the Times about a Washington archeologist who recently uncovered a brothel in D.C. While searching for something entirely different, her team discovered buried garbage going back to the 1800s. It was the strange mixture of trash that gave the building's former game away. Hundreds of champagne-bottle wrappers, mingling with humble dishes that weren't good enough to rub shoulders with the champagne paraphernalia Digging deeper, they found two kinds of china: fancy stuff for the business and sturdy everyday stuff used by the girls when they weren't working. (Sort of like the apartment at 444, where Bianca, the madam, kept two sets of towels! In one closet, the "elegant towels" for clients. We girls got our own from a separate closet filled with clean but faded washcloths that had seen more elegant days.)
Back at the D.C. dig: Almost a century later, after the business had been literally buried, this building could not escape its past. Because two kinds of trash--high-class and middle-class--were revealed in the dig. Whereas the other buildings in the vicinity produced only one kind: common, or garden-variety, working-men's trash. So something funny had to be going on.
There's a moral here. If archaeologists, a hundred years later, can figure out what you were up to, well, think of the present! You can't be too careful about separating your trash.
Ever since recycling hit, I've been religious about separating the respectable trash and the bedroom trash. Never mix the sex trash with old bills or junk mail! Don't even let female trash--tell-tale signs of makeup removal, tampon wrappers, and the like--enter the same bag as the condoms. (This way, if anyone should find three discarded Trojan boxes and ten little K-Y tubes, they might assume a popular gay guy instead of an industrious call girl.)
Your landlord might be snooping around the incinerator room. Like the D.C. archeologist, he's looking for something else. An illegal subletter. A recycling transgression. But he stumbles across a suspicious cache of sex trash on the floor where you live. Thanks to an old Con Ed bill, he starts wondering . . . nightmare on East Seventy-ninth Street!
Pleased with my foresight--I've been two steps ahead of all this for at least five years--I clipped the Times article for Jasmine. I bundled my used coffee filter into a partly filled D'Ag bag. Then I trotted down the hall to the disposal area, a four-day "growth" of New York Times Metro sections tucked under my arm. After popping the bag down the chute, I gazed at the neat spotless floor. The tall blue bag was empty, and the porter had left behind his signature aroma--pine-scented Lysol, which inspired a wave of regret. It seems a shame to desecrate a tidy recycling area with more of the same old same old!
A minute or two later I was back in my apartment, standing in the kitchen and rinsing out an empty Astroglide bottle, trying to decide whether to recycle it here or toss it into a garbage can on York Avenue when nobody's looking.
At which point, the phone rang. I picked it up with my free hand and scrunched my neck over to talk.
"Suzy! At last! "
A male voice from the past, calling me by my work name . . . who-? Then my internal voice-ID "software" kicked in.
"Wally! I thought you were--" I gulped hard. "Just one second, okay? My hands are full."
I stuffed the Astroglide bottle into my gym bag and dried my hands on my jeans.
"How are you?" I asked. "It's been ages! Is everything okay?"
"It's been exactly a year and nine months," he said. "I've been counting the days. And I'm very pleased to have my health back."
Actually, I'd thought Wally was never going to call. After twelve months of silence, I had gotten concerned. I'd figured he had gone off me or started seeing someone new. After a year and a half, I'd believed he was dead. Client attrition is something you start seeing more of when a high percentage of your clientele is over sixty.
"You should have called," I told him. "I was worried about you! " But I did my best to sound light and chatty.
What does it mean when you think someone has died--and he resurfaces? Could it be that I'm too vain to believe a regular client would choose not to see me? After I hung up with Wally, I stared into the mirror. Vanity, thy name is . . . well, for today at least, it's "Suzy."
Excerpted from The Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl by Tracy Quan. Copyright © 2001 by Tracy Quan. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.