the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Dating Life

(taken down the block from my mother’s apartment building)

“How much?” I asked the woman in the tight shorts standing on the corner. She seemed the perfect partner to help me complete my humiliation.

“Ten dollars for a blowjob, twenty-five for sexual intercourse, and two hundred and fifty dollars to sit around your apartment for a hour and talk about your marriage.”

I pulled out a wad of bills.

“Here’s two hundred and fifty dollars for the conversation.”

She was surprised, and looked at me with pity.

“You know what? I’ll throw the blowjob in for five dollars.”

I had left my keys on my dresser earlier, so I had to ring the doorbell to my mom’s place when I returned with the hooker. My mother answered. She was opening a box of Entenmann’s cake. She was surprised to see me with a women.

“Hi, Mom. This is… uh, Clarissa?”

“Clitrissa,” stated the hooker.

“Clitrissa,” I repeated for my mother. “She’s a hooker from the neighborhood.”

My mother didn’t blink. That’s the best thing about getting older. At a certain point, you’ve seen it ALL and nothing seems that weird.

“I was about to have a piece of cake,” said my mother, politely. “Would you like to join us?”

My mother, always the perfect hostess.

“Sure,” said Clitrissa.

The three of us — me, my mother, and the hooker in the tight shorts — headed into the kitchen. As we passed the living room, Clitrissa noticed that a sitcom was playing on the twenty year old RCA TV.

“Two and Half Men! I love that show.” cried Clitrissa.

“It’s my favorite,” said my mother.

“Charlie Sheen cracks me up,” Clitrissa laughed.

My mother lead the giggling hooker to the couch.

“Sit down” instructed my mother. “The show just started. Let me catch you up to speed. The two brothers just had a fight and the nebbishy one — not Charlie Sheen — is thinking of moving, and you know…”

Within minutes, we were all plopped on the couch, in front of the TV, individual TV stands propped at our knees, munching on the Entenmann’s cake.

After “Two and a Half Men,” My mother and the hooker turned on the DVD to watch the episode of “Glee,” from earlier in the week. It was another favorite of both my mother and the hooker.

But I was getting impatient. I don’t usually complain about service in restaurants or at the dry cleaners, but in this instance, I wasn’t getting anywhere near what I paid for.

I slid my TV tray to the side, and forced a fake cough, hoping to catch Clitrissa’s attention, but apparently Clitrissa was a huge “Gleek,” and had seen every episode of the show.

I finally spoke up.

“Uh, Clitrissa, don’t you think we should get started before it gets too late.”

“Oh, yeah, right. Uh, but I’m really enjoying this Glee. Rachel’s going to sing in a minute. Do you mind if I give you your blowjob during the commercial?”

I almost spit out my cake.

“I’m not going to have you give me a blowjob with my mother sitting right here.”

My mother agreed that it was a bad idea, especially since she usually fast forwards through the commercials with the DVR, which would mean that she would have to give me a very fast blowjob.

But my mother is as accommodating as she is a good hostess.

“I guess we could pause the show, you can do whatever you have to do, and I’ll go finish making my brisket for dinner tomorrow.”

Clitrissa and I acknowledged this as the best plan of action. My mother headed into the kitchen. Clitrissa took off her ratty boots and made herself comfortable on the couch.

This was exactly what I needed. To reach rock bottom. To be humiliated. To expose myself to the cheapest whore, a person only interested in my money. It’s better this way. Love is all an illusion. Relationships are impossible. Better to live like the wild animals that we really are, only caring about our immediate gratifications and our beastly yearnings.

“What would you like to do first, the blowjob or talk about your wife?” she asked.

“Let’s talk about my wife,” I said.

Clitrissa sighed, a bored expression on her face. She was apparently more of a doer than a talker.

“Ok, go ahead,” she said, lying back against the pillow. “Don’t worry if you see me closing my eyes. That means I’m listening very carefully.”

I have long considered myself a storyteller, but this was one of the hardest stories to retell. It was the story of my marriage to Sophia.

“To tell you the full story of my marriage, I will need to go back in time. To a happier time. It was our wedding day. I wore my first tuxedo. It was black and regal. And she was like a beautiful Queen, in a flowing white dress…”

Two and half hours later, the story had shifted gears. It was now filled with romantic drama. My mother had gone to bed, leaving us to our privacy.

“The next stop on our honeymoon was Sevilla. We didn’t really like Sevilla that much. We went to a touristy flamenco show, thinking it was going to be very authentic, but instead the dancers were an elderly couple, one of whom had a leg brace. Later that night, Sophia got a pebble in her shoe, and a blister, and I spend two hours trying to find a pharmacy that was open at night… and there wasn’t a CVS in sight…”

Clitrissa had her eyes closed tightly, and was breathing rhythmically. I could only assume she was listening to my story very carefully. And she was an excellent listener, not interrupting my speaking flow even once.

“But as life continued, as in any relationship, things changed. Events changed us. We changed ourselves. We were brought together by happiness and generosity. Sophia threw me a giant surprise birthday party online. We were burdened by tragedy. My father died. There were health issues. Breast cancer surgeries. There was dinners and concerts. There was separations and reunions and dancing. There were more deaths in the family. There were laughs and trips and wild weekend trips to Bakersfield. My entire blog has been one long memoir of a crazy marriage, of two people bound together by love and holy matrimony, two lovers never quite sure if their personalities meshed in the way absolutely necessary for two people to live together without killing each other. There was always more chaos than comfort in this marriage, which made for good blog fodder, but a tremendous amount of real life stress…”

Clitrissa snored, and it finally hit me that she was fast asleep. Money down the drain, I thought. I didn’t even get a fast blowjob during the fast-forwarding of Glee on the DVR.

But as most of you know, I’m a pretty decent guy, and Clitrissa looked sleepy, so I covered her with a blanket, and went into my bedroom.

I called Sophia on the phone.

“How ya doing?” I asked her.


“Did you turn in the filing papers for divorce yet?”


“So, what are you waiting for?” I wondered.

“Not waiting for anything. Today’s Sunday. You want the courts to stay open just for you?”

“You’re gonna do it tomorrow?”

“Maybe. But I have a dentist’s appointment.”

Despite our tentativeness on the phone, we had signed the papers on the day that I left town. I wanted to make some sort of ceremony for us, but we ran out of time. We were busy the previous day cleaning out the garage before I left to make parking the cars easier. We had both just taken showers, and we signed the papers, both naked, much like Adam and Eve might have after the infamous “apple incident.”

Sophia and I were both tired of this on-again and off-again life. I hated ping-ponging back and forth from NY and LA. We had discussed getting “filing papers” for at least three years. If you are a long time reader of this blog, you know that we considered ourselves “separated, but living together” for as long as five years ago! Last week, after years of avoidance, she brought the papers home. I was slightly pissed because I wanted to be the one who brought them home; it would make me sound more decisive when I later tell this story. But then again, I can always change the details when I tell the story in the future.

The last year has been such a hard one for Sophia and me. Both her parents died, one after another. This changed things, especially for her, but for me too. I can’t exactly say in what way. Perhaps it reminded us that life is short, too short to play around with a happiness that only hovers around the 61% percentile.

We are now in a six month transition period. I’m in New York again for a few months, plotting my course. I have a lot of writing that I am behind on. The past year took an enormous toll on my creative output. It is hard to write when real life is much more dramatic than anything you are putting onto the page.

During the travails of the year, I was asked often, “Did the turmoil of her parents’ illness and dying bring you together?” In many ways, it did. But it also broke us apart. The last year has not inspired much romance.

It is time to start dating other people.

“So, have you started dating yet?” I asked Sophia, still on the phone.

“No, but I will start soon.”

“Good for you!”

“How about you?”

“There’s a woman with me right now on the living room couch.”

“There is? You’re with a woman right now at your mother’s place? Isn’t your mother THERE?”

“My mother’s an adult. She’s hip. She even read Sidney Sheldon back in the 1970s.”

“Where did you meet this woman?”

“She’s a hooker. Her name is Clitrissa.”

“I see. So, you paid her to sit with you and talk about “relationships?”

“F*ck no. Well, yeah. But also, for a blowjob.”

“Why didn’t you go for the full sex?”

“It would be another twenty dollars.”

“Why are you always so cheap with yourself?”

“Maybe because I’m still paying for half YOUR apartment.”

“That’s just an excuse. You still should have gone for the full sex. It was the same with the airplane. Just because they charge you another twenty five dollars a suitcase on Virgin America, doesn’t mean you can’t take two bags. You need to treat yourself better.”

“What is this lecture about? Do you really want to talk about this now?”

“You’re the one who called me!” she yelled back.

She was getting my goat, as usual.

“Can’t we just talk about something safe for once? Something that won’t tick either of us off?”

“Like what?” she asked.

“Did you see this week’s Glee yet?”


The next morning, my mother served Clitrissa breakfast (challah french toast!), and she went back to the street corner to go to work. I never did get a blowjob, which is probably better since I didn’t really know her that well..

It was the start of my new dating life.

Truth Quotient: 8%


  1. thepsychobabble

    Pure. Awesome. 🙂

  2. suburbancorrespondent

    I think this whole story just goes to show that Entenmann’s is perfect for any occasion.

  3. andy

    You write as a job? And people pay you to do it? WHY?

  4. Tex In The City

    If I were Clitrissa I would have offered your a hug or a cuddle instead of a blowjob. Much easier to do while watching tv and you still get a little “action.”

    Putting on a pot so I will have something to enjoy with MY Entenmann’s.

  5. Neil

    Andy — It’s all who you know.

  6. JP/deborah

    Now who names their child Clitrissa?

  7. Suzy

    Do NOT take this post down. It was terrific. And now I want Entenmann’s.

    And a blowjob.*

    *I might have skimmed some of this post.

  8. The Checkout Girl

    I contend that, as someone christened “Clitrissa”, she was only fulfilling her destiny.

  9. Karen Maezen Miller

    I believe everything except the part about Neil Kramer.

  10. Loralee

    I knew the truth quotant for this story was only 8% when I read that she only charged $10 for a blow job.


    • Neil

      Should I change that? I have no idea what is the going rate.

  11. subwow

    “The Unbearable Lightness of Relationships”. This is what I thought when I was reading this. Nicely done.

    p.s. Is how awesome your mom is part of the 8% Truth Quotient?

    p.p.s. I’m sorry for what you are going through. Even though divorce may be the best solution for a couple sometimes, it is always unnerving to go through the process.

  12. Kim

    Mmmm. Cake.

  13. subwow

    Now I figured it out: this story somehow reminds me of Haruki Murakami (only that yours contains more LOL moments…)

  14. headbang8

    I’m with Sophia. You should treat yourself better.

  15. ingrid

    ignore andy…

    great post.

    thinking of you.

  16. Deer Baby

    I’m so sorry Neil about you and Sophia. Even if you both think it’s for the best. But yes life is too short if your happiness quotient only hovers around the 61% percentile. Although, like the going rate if for blowjobs, I’m not sure if 61% sounds high, low or normal.

    Wish I could think of something witty to say right now but I’m all out.

  17. afteriris

    I think it’s fine to hide something serious behind hookers, cake and oral sex, Neil. In fact, I’m not sure if it counts as hiding; maybe it’s even more revealing. Whatever it is, it’s a great post. And like Deer Baby, I’m so sorry and sending you and Sophia all my best.

  18. Poor Fish Girl

    AWESOME! I love the vision of your mom and the hooker bonding over sitcom t.v.

    I agree with you that it’s hard to write when reality is heavy. I also find that it’s hard to write when I’m ecstatically happy. Happy people have no stories and no one finds it easy to re-live their trauma on paper. At least I don’t.

    Anyway- excellent writing, as usual. 🙂

  19. unmitigated me (m.a.w.)

    I’m pretty sure I recall Hugh Grant having paid 50 bucks for the blow job in the car that got him busted, and that was about 10 years ago. I am delighted to see that spell-check recognizes the term blow job, and insists that it is two separate words.

    I am secretly hoping the 8% truth included the divorce papers. It’s time for you to find someone new, Neil.

  20. lettergirl

    The heartbreak hidden in the hilarity makes me sad for you and Sophia this morning. It has been a horrific year of loss for you both — my hope for you is that this break is a catalyst for good things.

  21. Rima

    Neil, you are one of the most fascinating personalities I’ve ever met online.

  22. sarah "g"

    I was hopeful that it would bring you both together the love and respect does run deep. I am sorry that it will be the divorce papers-but I’m glad that you will have some direction. It is hard to move on in any manner when there is no direction and one is stuck in limbo.
    you both have my prayers.

    i hope the very best for you both during this time.

  23. Karl

    Don’t feel too badly, Neil. I’ve been divorced for quite a while now and have yet to get the hang of dating. What corner is Clitrissa on?

  24. Danny

    LOVE this post. Your mother is definitely one of my favorite characters. For some reason I’m seeing this post expanded into a screenplay! The actress who plays Clitrissa is guaranteed a Best Supporting Actress Oscar (see Mira Sorvino).

  25. Elaine

    Start practising those tried & tested pick-up lines and a very suggestive wink! (No, I generally don’t give good advice.) Will this become a dating blog?

    You’re too, too wonderful, Neil.

  26. teahouseblossom

    But the most important question is, how did the brisket turn out?

  27. Juli Ryan

    Why has nobody mentioned the challah French toast? Want.

  28. Tuck

    And your mom didn’t invite “the girls” in to meet Clitrissa?

  29. fizzgig

    Another reason being a woman is pretty sweet. If we were men we could get blowjobs for free. wait….did you say entemens? was it crumb cake? because that changes everything.

  30. unmitigated me

    I just realized something. You didn’t say you were happy 61% of the time, you rated your happiness in the 61st percentile. Do you know what that means? It means that you considered yourselves happier than 61% of the people out there? So WTF are you snivelling about? Jesus! What are you, an overachiever? You should…you…y…

    I’m sorry.

    I’m just no good at the troll thing. I tried.

  31. Holmes

    Your mother is a quality human being. Clitrissa seems nice too.

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