DO YOU WANT A BLOW JOB?

The following is an excerpt from the memoir



I am 12 years old walking across Lincoln Center Plaza on my way to catch a cross-town bus to go to the Harkness School of Ballet. I just got out of my classes at Professional Children’s School, a private school for children in the arts: dancers, actors, painters, models, musicians, composers and so forth.



My weeks are packed. I take dance classes six days a week, go to school five days a week, and work off the books for a couple of hours one day a week washing dishes at a local restaurant near my home. My Dad has instilled in me the importance of always having a job, no matter how few the hours, so I can always have a couple of dollars in your pocket.



I am passing the fountain in the plaza’s center when a middle-aged man with red hair begins to walk next to me. He is on my left. I am in a hurry.



He says, “How are you today, young man?”



“Fine,” I say.



He says, “Where you off too?”



“Dance class.”



“Dance class, really…that sounds nice.”



He continues at my side as we reach the end of the plaza. He says, “Can I ask you something?”



“I gotta catch a bus.”



Would you like a blow job?”



“I already have a job.”



He looks bewildered. “No no. I wanted to know if you want a blow job.”



I am not the most patient 12 year old on the planet. “I just told you, I already have a job.”



We have reached the bus stop. The bus is arriving. He looks at me. “I’m asking you if you’d like a blow job, kid.”



I’ve had it. “What are you, stupid or something? I just told you I have a job.” I glare at him before getting on the bus.



The middle-aged man with the red hair stands outside the bus giving me a strange look. As the bus pulls out, I give him the only reasonable response I can think of, the finger.



My Dad and I are driving home that evening on the Palisades Parkway when I tell him some guy kept offering me a job today.



He sounds surprised. “Somebody offered you a job?”



“Told him I already had a job.”



“Where did this take place?”



“Lincoln Center.”



“Really. What kind of job?”



“He asked me if I wanted a blow job.”



Had I known at that moment what a blow job actually was I would have been immediately as impressed with my father’s ability to keep the car on the road as I am today.



“Oh, Pete,” he said, looking worried. “We need to talk.”



“You okay, Dad?”



“Your okay, that’s what matters. And yes, I’m okay.”



My father then explained what kind of, well, job, I’d been offered. And although I didn’t realize it then, I know now that while ignorance may not always be bliss, it can protect you from trauma.

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