Ride This: Confessions of a Whore on Santa Monica Public Transport

As I glide up Lincoln Boulevard on the No. 3 Santa Monica Blue Bus, there isn’t much to look at on a Monday evening. “Dona nobis pacem” from Bach’s Mass in B minor blazes into my headphones, tempering the bus’s gut-jostling ride.

But the reverie induced by Bach’s chorus of angels is short-lived, interrupted by two women, one white and one black, sitting behind the driver. Both ladies appear to be in their 20s. The white woman ties her brown hair into a ponytail. The black woman holds high heels in her hands and wears jeans and a jacket covering a skintight midriff top that exposes a sliver of her stomach. She has high cheekbones and a nasal voice that ricochets off the windows. Her words drown out Bach’s chorus:

“You got to feel it in the back of your throat — all the way in the back.”

She points to the back of her throat, in case her friend doesn’t know where that is.

“If you put it in straight, right past the gag reflex, you won’t puke, see. There’s no excuse for barfing, that’s just unprofessional, not if you put a whole lot of slobber on that big dick, you get it good and wet, then shove it straight in.”

The white woman, whom I’ll call Mona Lisa, bears an enigmatic, twisted smile and plays with her hair.

“You also gotta play with the balls and ass. I had this one guy with his ass up all the way over his head, his face all red and twisted, screaming, ‘Oooh baby, I’m coming!’ ”

The driver finally speaks up: “Miss, there’s people on this bus don’t want to listen to that.”

On the basis of an informal visual survey of the six other passengers, including two women, I’d have to say that the driver is wrong.

“Oh, okay,” the black woman demurs, and the bus rolls past Washington Boulevard. After 15 seconds of silence, she turns to the driver: “Hey, you’re sexy.”

The driver replies guardedly after a pause, “Thank you.”

“You married?”

“Yes, I am.”

“You goin’ straight home after work?”

After another pause, he says, “You’re too young for me.”

“You ain’t that old!”

“Baby, I got two daughters older than you.”

“That don’t mean nothin’! My ex-fiancé was 38. I had another ex-fiancé was 47. My first ex-fiancé was 24, and he couldn’t do it at all.”

“How many ex-fiancés you got?”

“Three. And one ex-husband. He’s the one that put me in jail.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-six.”

“Jesus,” he mutters to himself.

“How old are you?

“Fifty-two,” the driver replies.

“You look good!”

“You done a lot, for 26.”

“I been a stripper. I been a businesswoman.”

Next, she rises from her seat, sidles up to the driver, holds onto a support pole so that her butt is facing him and then lowers her jeans about an inch to expose a tattoo at the base of her hip. While she’s perched in this position, the bus slithers to a halt; the doors swing open and three people board, angling around her to drop coins into the fare box.

By the time the bus is rolling again, she’s back in her seat.

“And I’m gonna start a gentlemen’s club,” she announces.

“What you go to jail for?” the driver asks.

“Attempted murder.”

Three of the passengers who had been plugged into various listening devices now discreetly remove their headphones.

“Who’d you try to murder?”

“My ex-husband. He was trying to tie me to the bed. So I pulled out this small pocketknife, and I cut him 14 times across the back and the shoulder, but I couldn’t bring him down. He was so mad, he said, ‘Bitch, you gonna die tonight!’ That’s why the judge gave me only 30 days.”

We pass an LAPD cruiser arresting somebody.

“Not here! I don’t wanna go back!” she shouts mockingly. “I don’t wanna go back!”

Then, silence. I think for a moment of returning to the Mass in B minor, but before I do, she catches the eye of an older guy with a pocked face and a goatee, sitting across the aisle from me.

“You married?” she asks.

“Oh, me, noooh.”

“Well then, come on, baby, come sit over here.”

“I’ve got a girlfriend,” he says, his face showing panic.

“She don’t have to know,” she counters.

Throughout, Mona Lisa’s expression never changes. I step off the bus at Pico and watch the blue carriage hiss up Fourth Street in a belch of fumes.

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