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(Previous chapter)

"Did you notice the op-ed by a trio of feminists who disagree with what you said about not feeling exploited in your work?" 

"No. What did they say?" 

Marc reached into his briefcase and took out a copy of the newspaper.  

She read the column without showing any emotion. She gave him his paper back and took a sip of her coffee. 

"What do you think?" He was genuinely curious. 

She shrugged. "The usual. I've heard these comments before, though not about me personally. It's very easy to judge someone like me when you're a university professor. What do they know about the work I do?" 

"I don't know." 

"Neither do they. So what's for today? What else you need to know?" 

On the sound system Léo Ferré sang Avec le temps with his usual whisper. How you could sing so intensely and so softly at the same time was a complete mystery to Marc. That was one thing about Montreal coffee shops you never found elsewhere except maybe trendy spots in Quebec City. Old unfashionable and decidedly non-autotuned French songs at low volume. Everyone else was always blaring pointless noise. 

Good grief. Was he getting old already? 

“What is it that men look for when they come see you?” 

He made a point of stirring his sugar. "Other than the obvious, of course.” 

“Why of course? There’s nothing obvious about it.” 

Mr. Ferré receded just a bit. Marc could have sworn to it. 

“Well,” he suddenly felt stupid, "aren’t they looking for sex?"

“Sure,” she sipped her coffee so slowly, had she ever noticed that? Probably not. “But what’s sex, really?” 

“Isn’t it obvious? Guy-girl sex isn’t my specialty, for sure, but I rather thought it involved a penis and, well, you know.” 

Her laughter was as sincere as it was painful for him to hear. 

“Yes, I know. But you’d be amazed how many guys don’t want that.” 

“So what are they paying for?” 

“The bulk of my money comes from the skillful use of my mouth. And I don’t mean talking.” 

“I see.” 

“But even when they do want straight-up, dick-in-jane sex - sorry, couldn't resist - the men aren’t especially after the rubbing of body parts. They could get that much cheaper elsewhere.” 

“You mean they could masturbate to porn?” 

“That, or they could use toys. It’s amazing what they sell. Don’t you go to sex shops?” 

“Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been.” 

“You might like some of the stuff.” 

“Maybe. But what is it that your clients pay for?” 

“Listen, I can’t speak for everyone. But in my experience, what clients want is a woman who’s happy to welcome them with her body." 

"Uh?" 

They would have found it hilarious to realize that only two gay people could explain the jist of male heterosexual sex to a bunch of straights. Life is funny like that sometimes.

(To be continued)