By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
On my walk home over the white blossoms that cover the sidewalk like confetti, I reflect on how, if this had been a "real" date with Carlos, I would have thought he was a nice guy, but that there was no chemistry. I didn't feel objectified; it was more like I was obligated to be friendly. In a pinch, I could even see doing it again as a slightly uncomfortable, but relatively painless, way to make some extra cash.
After I get home and take a closer look at the ticket, I realize something is crossed out with black ink. Tilting the ticket at a certain angle, I can make out a name underneath, and it's definitely not "Carlos." It turns out he had his secrets, too.
Cara, meanwhile, has found a full-time job at a nonprofit, and April is on unemployment again after a short-term government job. Both continue to "date" on weekends. Julie plans to work for the agency again upon her return to the States this summer. Though they've noticed a recent dip in business, which they attribute to the Craigslist Killer case, like the savvy entrepreneurs they are, the girls dream of expanding, hiring others, and taking the agency to other states.
I do wholesome things with my earnings. Following Cara's suggestion, I donate the money to a local nonprofit called Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, or GEMS, that works with teenage girls who have been a lot less fortunate about where to draw the line with regard to sex work. The little Coach purse, I send to my mom. As for Carlos, a week or so after our date, I send him a message telling him that I'm writing a story about the agency and our date and ask if there's anything he'd like to share about the experience and why he was drawn to it. His response was refreshingly candid: With his longtime girlfriend working in another country, he was feeling lonely and in need of some female company. "I was only looking for a companion, something platonic and temporary," he wrote. "Going out with somebody like you through Austen's Janes is just simple. No complications and no expectations." Just what the girls had in firstname.lastname@example.org