When I was 14, all the hookers at the Imperial 400 Motel in Akron, Ohio, knew my name.
No, it wasn’t because I was a pimp-daddy with a caddy, fuzzy dice and curb feelers. Damn it.
It was my mother’s fault. She was always “delayed” to pick me up at St. Vincent High (home of Lebron James).
I was usually done with my shit before 6. She usually showed up at 7:30 or 8. She had 5 teenagers, taught full-time and led the teacher’s union. There were days when she forgot me. (This was before cell phones, so fuck you douchebag millennials and your instant status and tracking of parents). I was happy when she showed at all.
When the sun was going down, the drug dealers across Maple Street were opening up. Cars slowly rolled in and quickly fled. Whiffs of burning hemp floated my way (maybe they were coming from inside the school — it was hard to tell).
You douchebag millennials won’t believe me, but it was the 70’s, the “Catholic” school had a place for kids to smoke outside. Sometimes it was tobacco. At least enough cigarettes to cover the stink of weed and seeds.
After dark, all the other kids were long gone. The hookers wandered out of the Imperial 400 on Market Street. About 4 or 5 of them, sat on the limestone wall in front of the church. But Father Corrigan snuck out of the rectory to drive them away.
They were cussing and throwing their hands up at the bald priest like they were Lebron James and he was an NBA referee.
Hmmm, what would Jesus do? Father Corrigan turned the hose on them.
Screeching and screaming down the street, they came at me like a flock of wet, pissed-off chickens. The “choice meats” — breasts, butts, and thighs — were sticking out and jiggling as much as possible. I could hear the heels clicking on the concrete as they crossed Market and headed north on Maple.
The druggies driving toward the dealers’ houses saw the hookers, slowed, rolled down their windows and did the “Detroit Lean” (right elbow on the passenger seat; left hand on the wheel).
Then there was a bunch of call and response bullshit. My personal favorite was:
Call: “Hey baby, how much for a pound of fish?”
Response: “Fuck off.”
If you wanted to get the hookers’ attention, you had to stop and talk like a gentleman. Not call out like you are auctioning a goddamn pig at the county fair. (40 years later, I now know it’s kinda like marriage — don’t follow the rules; no pussy for you.)
None of the druggies actually stopped. Apparently drugs are a bigger draw than sex. The saying “hookers and blow” is wrong — it should be “blow and then maybe a hooker”…
“Hey, isn’t it time to go home to your mama?”
Ohh shit, they were talking to me.
“You wanna become a man in the next 5 minutes?”
I said nothing, but my white face turned a bright, burning red. Despite the chill of the fall night, the sweat poured from behind my ears and the back of my neck.
“What’s your name?” They moved a little closer. “Com’on you can tell us.” I was surrounded. Peer pressure makes you do funny things.
“What the fuck? Karen?. You are an ugly, fat girl… Karen.”
And the circle repeated “Karen”, and “girl” mixed with laughter and words I didn’t understand.
I just remember the humiliation. It was just enough shame to bring on my 14-year-old bravado.
“Kieran with a goddamn “ear” in the middle.” My voice cracked on “goddamn” like I was Jan Brady yelling “Marica, Marica, Marcia…”
“K-ear-ran” they repeated and laughed and laughed. They stepped aside to check out the car that was slowing down.
It was my mom in the 1972 Olds Vista Cruiser station wagon.
“Hey, your mama’s here.. Goodbye Kieran, See you later baby.”
Rinse and repeat every weeknight for the next 3 months. I never asked or learned any of their names. But most nights, the hookers waved and called out to me. Sometimes, a few would come over and talk about how fucking cold or windy or rainy it was. They even came outside in the snow.
Seriously, I spent fall evenings as a high school freshman surrounded by hookers talking about the weather.
Over the months, there were a lot more than the original group of 4. Maybe a total of 20-40 different women (I’m hoping they were all women) came around.
Maybe I just couldn’t tell who or how many because of all the multi-colored wigs, thick makeup and crazy ass clothes (hot pants and fur coats mixed with halter tops and sweat pants). And somehow all of that shit was “shiny”.
Do hookers rotate their shifts like nurses? I guess so. But they all seemed to magically know me like I was the fucking Channel 5 weatherman.
Most nights they would wave goodbye to me and my mom. She never did ask — and I never did tell her why all the hookers in Akron knew my name.