December 2017, Tokyo, Japan.
My Mum underwent surgery in Brisbane yesterday. While nothing life-threatening, just undergoing general anaesthetic itself comes with risks. So it was a day of waiting anxiously to hear from my Dad that Mum was ok. Finally the message came through via WhatsApp; Mum was in recovery and ok.
Yesterday’s events brought my parents to the forefront of my mind, and therefore provided the impetus to revisit this blog post and get it finished and published.
August 2017, Sydney, Australia.
For a little while now, my frequent trips to Japan have made my mother concerned. Once, when my Mum forgot to press ‘end’ on a phone call, I heard her turn to my Dad and say, “Why is she off to Japan again? Do you suppose that she’s part of a drug-smuggling ring?”
The fact that I might be working as an escort was not even an option in her mind, I believe. And it’s easy to understand why. For years I had been the young suburban housewife. The person least likely, if you will.
As for being involved in some sort of drug-smuggling activity, again I would regard myself as the person least likely. However, there was one particular event that could lead my Mum to believe that I could be dealing illicit substances…
You see, throughout my adolescence, I was absolutely addicted to those rascally Mancunians, Oasis.
They had a song, Supersonic, with these lyrics:
‘I know a girl called Elsa,
She's into Alka-Seltzer,
She sniffs it through a cane on a supersonic train…”
Of course, at the time I was too young to realise that these lines were referring to doing lines of cocaine. I took the lyrics literally and set about trying the experiment myself at my Grandmother’s house. I sourced some Alka-Seltzer powder from her medicine cabinet, found a plastic drinking straw…. and you can imagine what came next.
Unfortunately my experiment came with a problem that I had not anticipated. The key ingredients in Alka-Seltzer are sodium bicarbonate and citric acid. So of course, the second that the powder hit the moist mucous membrane in my sinus, it became effervescent. And it burnt. Cue me on the floor screaming and in absolute agony. Mum and Grandma rushed into the kitchen. “What’s wrong?! What have you done?!” I couldn’t answer at that second as I was in the process of filling up the sink in order to submerge my entire head. “You silly girl, it serves you right!” admonished my Grandma after I had sunk to the floor flailing around like a fish out of water and gasping out the story. I don't think my Mum has ever forgotten that day.
Fast-forward fifteen years later. The fact that I was involved in an extra-curricular activity of some sort was about to become as plain as the nose on my face. In fact, it was the nose on my face.
You see, I had always hated my nose. It was fully functional, but it had a bulbous tip.
And as I’m quite close to my parents, they have a pretty good idea how much I earn and how much my mortgage is. It wouldn’t take a genius to work out that handing over a significant lump sum for a new nose would have put a strain on my modest RL income.
Even though we are now apart geographically, my Mum has always possessed some kind of ‘Mum Spidey-Senses’. In December 2015, my younger sister flew alone to meet me in Japan. My sister later told me later that as Mum hugged her goodbye at the airport, she said, “Keep an eye on your older sister, you know that she’s always up to something.”
(Mum was right, I was up to something. I ‘snuck out’ to see two lovely clients while my sister and I were skiing together in Japan).
I went alone to the hospital on the day of my nose surgery. I had decided from the outset not to tell my parents about the surgery. As no-nonsense people who literally started with nothing and worked their way to financial security, they would view such an act of vanity as wasteful. Also, my Mum is a nurse and has always maintained that surgery should not be performed unless it is a matter of absolute necessity.
It wasn’t until a month after my successful surgery that I saw Mum and Dad in person again. They both noticed my new nose immediately, but didn’t say a word. The suspense killed me for twenty-four hours until I eventually broached the topic.
To my surprise, no disapproval. My Mum did admonish me for not confiding in them beforehand. She would have flown to Sydney to accompany me, she said.
They were concerned that I’d taken out some sort of dodgy high-interest personal loan. So I lied. I said that I’d been doing ‘Sugar Daddy dates’ to finance my nose. I had never planned to tell them the truth- that I was an escort- anyway.
And while I’m not a parent, I imagine that such an admission would lead to a lot of soul-searching on where they went wrong. As well as worry that I was safe.
Mum wasn’t impressed with my Sugar Daddy explaination. She didn’t ask too many questions, which surprised me. But she did end up saying, “Well I just hope that you can look yourself in the mirror in twenty years’ time”. To which I declared, "Of course I will, and I will be able to admire my beautiful new nose in the mirror in twenty years’ time."
Then I added, “I would invite you to walk a mile in my shoes, Mum, but your feet are too small.” And then I flounced out the door like only an eldest daughter can.
I thought back later on the brilliance of that statement. At the time, I meant it literally- her feet are smaller than mine. But metaphorically, the same was also true. She wouldn’t have what it takes to be successful as an escort, not for a second.
To be continued….