Hearing the ground beneath us harden I tightened my grip on his reins and rose into a galloping position. I pushed my weight down on the stirrups and kept my lower legs at his girth as I sprang out of the saddle. My back was long, my eyes forward and my elbows close to my knees. Feeling him pick up speed, I bridged my reins, anchoring myself to his neck. Slowly, I steadied myself as he relaxed and he accepted my control. Pulling back on my reins and posting the trot, I rose up and down in rhythm with him as he bounced more vigorously beneath me. We soon arrived near the group that was only moments ago a fair distance before us.
“Hey Becky! There you are.” Yordie smiled as we appeared. Slowing now to a walk, we approached the group of riders assembled next to a white columned pavilion.
“We took the long way around,” I laughed, as I squeezed his girth with my legs and decisively pulled on the reins.
The group chatted with each other for a while. I looked around as they talked. In front of us, next to the pavilion was a patch of daisies encircling a tree on a grassy lawn. I watched them sway in the breeze for a while. Further down the lawn was a little white house. It was carefully kept with a welcoming porch at its front. As I imagined what it might be like to live here, I noticed there was a light inside, perhaps a candle flickering.
Eventually, the members of the riding party walked off saying their goodbyes leaving me alone with Yordie. I swung my horse around as I walked us to stand beside her.
“Hey,” she said “I’m sorry I was such a pill on this trip. A friend of mine had the idea and I was hoping she could help out a bit, but she couldn’t make it. Each of these adventures we seem to learn something. Thank you for coming.”
“Not at all! I could tell you were a bit tied up, so I left you to your tasks mainly,” I said. “Thanks for the invite, it was a good idea.”
“Yeah, that’s the best. I was so frazzled. I missed so much. I got bombarded from every angle it felt like.”
I could feel she was stressed. I tentatively offered a suggestion: “You need help to do this.”
“And me being the center for all issues is really demanding on me” she said. “I feel like everything just passes me by. I suppose that if I weren’t participating, it might be much easier.”
“Yes”, I said “it’s too much sometimes, it’s like hosting a party all by yourself, you never have any fun that way.”
“Yes, exactly” she said, “It’s been that way every time I’m afraid. Maybe we have the person with the adventure idea, someone has the idea and a couple help do the work. It makes it easier… different roles…”
She paused for a moment as I waited for her to continue. She seemed to be lost in her thoughts. I began to wonder what we were really talking about.
“Yes, that makes sense,” I offered. “When I run events at the Club, I have to do it that way or else I just work all night and don’t enjoy anything.”
“Yes.” she said.
I noticed the pauses began to lengthen between her replies. She seemed clearly preoccupied in her thoughts.
“Is everything else alright, Yordie?” I asked.
She seemed to be constructing a response as I waited.
“I may leave SL.” she said.
“What?” I asked. Leave SL? Yordie Sands can’t leave SL, I thought to myself. That’s like the head cheerleader leaving the game before the referree blows the whistle! We had been friends now for about half a year. We first met by commenting on each other’s blogs, well before finally meeting in world. I have always admired her adventurous spirit. She seems to be on a mission to explore the world. How strange, I thought, that she’d already felt she’d explored all she needed, and was now planning on leaving.
“I’m just so tired of it, yanno?” she said.
I wondered what she meant by “it”, but she answered before I could ask.
“It’s the guys… I’m just tired of the guys. I’ve just lost all trust in them. I just don’t care anymore,” she said. “They just seem to be looking for a quick piece of ass or want to visit you in real life or are just bored – and boring. I’m just tired of getting disappointed. It just seems that with every guy I meet, I’m always looking for signs of when the thing would burn down to a bang and fizzle.”
I nodded, signalling my understanding. “So why not just stop seeing guys Yordie? Why do you have to leave SL?”
“I think I still like guys. but i just don’t want relationships. yanno? Does that make sense?” she asked.
“Ok, so when you say ‘you still like guys’, what do you want from them, if not relationships? Companionship? Sex? Adoration? Admiration?”
“Oh yes, I love the way guys make me feel when desired. I love having fun with guys, but most of the guys I meet just don’t have any sense of how to have fun” she said.
“Ahh, I see,” I said.
“I know, it’s complicated. I just want to keep things at an arm’s length… ”
“Yordie.” I said, “maybe leaving SL isn’t the only answer here? I mean, if you’re finding you’re constantly being disappointed with guys, maybe you should consider changing the way you relate to them?”
“How do you mean?” she asked.
“Look,” I said “I know what you’re saying. You’re tired of having your expectations dashed by reality. I know what that’s like. I’m just saying that perhaps it might be time to trade in your expectations for appreciation.”
“A few years ago, I felt the same way. “ I continued, “neither really knowing what I was looking for, and definitely never finding it. So I dropped my expectations, and decided to just enjoy the moments. I don’t expect things to happen anymore. Most men seem interested in transactional relationships here, so I go with it. It’s now a game for me, and it’s a game that I really enjoy.”
“How do you mean?” she said.
I worried about going too much into detail. I liked Yordie very much. The world she introduced me to was in so many ways more ordinary than my own, but it was a world that I craved at times. In Yordie’s world, we’d do what ‘normal’ people do. We’d go on cruises, powerboat rides, camping trips, horseback riding. This world, while so extraordinary to me, was her ordinary. While she knew about what I did, we rarely discussed it. I had a sense, that she might not respect me if I told her everything. She had had similar experiences as a Geisha, but they had never delved past polite entertainment. I knew it wasn’t the same. What would she think of me, if she really knew what I did?
“If you’re looking for something with no strings attached,” I said, “something more ‘arms-length’, you may want to try the date auction we’re holding in a couple of weeks.”
I paused to gauge her reaction. As I waited the sun sank below the horizon and it became noticeably darker.
“Date auction? How does that work?”
“Well, basically you put yourself up for auction at my Club. Guys will bid on you and the highest bidder gets a date with you.”
“I’ve done that for charity in the past. What happens on the date?” she asked.
I laughed as I recalled some of my previous “dates”. I’d long since stopped participating in date auctions, as I have been in a position to choose my clients for quite some time now. With date auctions, you really don’t know what you’ll get. Today, my clients are almost as discerning as I am. As I’d progressed in my ‘career’, I’ve been able to raise my rates to the point that I need work only 4 hours a week and make enough to pay the tier on the Club. Being able to pay for the biggest cost of running the Club from my own earnings leaves my share from the dancers and escorts that work for me as mainly profit.
“That’s entirely up to you.” I said. “Obviously, the more you offer in your note card, the higher bids you’ll likely get. But, what you offer, and what you give, is entirely up to you.” I said. “In a twisted way, putting yourself up for auction is a form of putting a value on yourself.” I laughed at the rationalisation as I said it. “Clearly though, it’s not about the money, which is peanuts if I’m honest. Rather, it’s about keeping things transactional, and just enjoying yourself.”
“I’m not sure I’d be up for that to be honest.” She said.
“Don’t worry about it,” I smiled, “it’s just an idea, and it’s definitely not for everyone.”
“No, it’s not that.” she said. “I’m not sure if any guys will want me. And, I am genuinely worried about my height. I know there are guys who want to feel much bigger than the woman. I’ve been told I’m too tall by a couple of guys in my past too. And, in general, guys rarely chat me up or even ask me to dance. I think it’s like in real life where the only guys who talk to you are goofballs and jerks, other guys are afraid of being shot down. I really don’t know how to deal with this, never have.”
Listening to her worries, I recalled my own first, clueless days dancing at strippers beaches and escort clubs. I almost shivered at the thought. The last thing I wanted to do was to pressure her into something she didn’t want to do. Of course, if it came to a choice between leaving Second Life versus trying something a little different, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least try. Further, despite her misgivings, I knew Yordie had what it takes to do well: she had brains.
“Guys like all sorts of girls, Yordie. Sure, our Club, like Second Life in general, has more than its fair share of petite and busty blondes with perfectly tanned bodies. But, we also have girls that are a little more full-figured, and girls with slender, tall sophisticated shapes. What I’ve always told new girls working for me is ‘your looks will attract them at first, so that’s important, but what’s more important is your brain, because that’s what will keep them engaged. So, looks, is not the most important aspect of being a dancer, or an escort.’”
“Oh, I’m not sure I’d want to go that far – being an escort I mean – but the date auction sounds interesting, Becky.” she said.
I smiled knowingly.
“Give it some thought, Yordie, before you decide,” I said. “It’s not for everyone.” I paused for a moment. “But there is one thing I know for sure Yordie, if you’re looking for no-strings attached desire, this is certainly a way of getting it.”
A little while later, my horse now in his stable, I stood in front of the group of them as I pulled off my riding boots.
Advice, I thought, can be a dangerous thing. I’ve been doing this for years now: selling my body and my words for money came as second nature to me now. A part of me, however, was worried. What if she signed up for a date and didn’t enjoy it at all? What if by opening a door to a different life, I was in part responsible for speeding her departure? What if she was so disgusted by the whole idea that it changed her opinion of me? I’d tried very hard to make friends in the ordinary world, what might I lose if I bridged the gaps?
Thinking back on my time before and after starting down this road, was I better off? What had I given up? Was what I had gained been worth it?
“It’s only a date auction,” I thought to myself. “She’ll be fine…”
I sat on a bale of hay holding the boot in my hands. Slowly, mindlessly, I picked at the horse shit on my sole, staring into the indefinite distance of a blackened sky.
(Note: This post is Part 2 of The Sex and the Virtual City series written by Yordie Sands and Canary Beck, the first post is here)