I’ve got to share this vignette from Mistress Matisse’s much longer article about the ups and downs of sex work around Christmas time. I simply can’t read these paragraphs without cracking up:

It was midafternoon on Christmas Eve. The client and I had never met before, but I showed up at his house at the appointed time, and he quickly ushered me inside. The man of the house was thin and pale, with faded blond hair, and he looked nervous. I could understand why: There’s a reason married guys rarely have whores come to their homes.

How could I tell he was married? Well, the fact that the house was decorated in a nauseatingly cutesy-country-crafty style was a big tip-off. Not just decorated—the place was stuffed full of ruffled chintz and gingham, designer teddy bears and American primitive wooden plaques with bunnies and angels and hearts burned on them. There was a flowered platter of homemade iced cookies sitting on the hall table. And there were a lot of family portraits on the foyer wall, with Mom, Dad, and three little rug rats.

“So you can be gone by six, right?” he asked.

“Sweetie, I’ll leave whenever you want,” I replied.

I paused before asking the obvious question.

“Is your wife coming home?”

He nodded jerkily. “She and the kids are at church.”

I couldn’t believe it. This guy had a hooker come to his house on Christmas Eve while his wife and kids were at church? He is so going to hell for this, I thought, and I’ll undoubtedly see him there.

“Well, let’s not waste playtime,” I said, moving toward the stairs. “Where would you like to…?”

“No, not upstairs!” he said, practically panicking. “I don’t want to mess up the bed. Let’s just—do it in the living room.”

Easier said than done. We edged around the eight-foot Christmas tree that dominated the room and sat down on the powder-blue couch. He handed me an envelope with the cash in it. I tucked it into my purse and then looked at him, waiting for him to give me some sign of how he wanted to proceed. But he just stared at me like a trapped rabbit. The room was dim, and the lights from the tree threw alternating red and green splotches on his face. The effect made him look like he had some kind of facial tic, and I doubted that it was enhancing my complexion, either.

“Okay,” I thought to myself, “if I have to be gone soon, I am going to have to take control of this fuck.”

I stripped down to my tarty black lace lingerie and stockings, got his pants around his knees, and started unrolling a condom onto his dick with my mouth. He moaned and leaned back on the couch—and then we both gasped and jumped as the tinkling strains of “White Christmas” suddenly rose into the air. He looked wildly around the room for a moment, then relaxed and said, “Oh, wait, it’s this pillow. It’s got a music box in it, when you lean on it, it plays…” He fished a red-and-green throw pillow from behind his back and tossed it away. It played on for a minute, before ceasing abruptly with a mechanical click.

He lay back again, but it seemed that our musical interruption had made his little Saint Nick unhappy. Or maybe it’s this house, I thought, as I sucked him. It’s completely antisexual. Interior decor as visual saltpeter.

I stood up, pulled off my panties, and bent over the couch. I knew I should give him some dirty verbal encouragement, but my vast repertoire of porn talk had deserted me, and the best I could manage was a come-hither expression that felt as painted-on as the faces of the knee-high nutcrackers flanking the fireplace. I watched him maneuver into position behind me in the gilt-framed, holly-draped mirror over the mantel. In my black bra and stockings, I was jarringly out of place in the room, an affront to the relentless, smothering cozy cuteness. It was hard to even breathe. As he fumbled around behind me, the bowls of cloyingly sweet potpourri that sat on both end tables began to make my eyes water and my nose itch. I was going to start sneezing uncontrollably in a minute, I thought, and my mascara was going to run down my face in black streaks. It was like a Stephen King Christmas house, where it looks all sweet, but if you don’t behave, it kills you.

At first impression, this story is sad. But the more I read it, the funnier it gets. This guy was a fool (“I pity the fool!”) but he was also a rebel. What, he couldn’t sneak out and rent a room where he didn’t have to worry about the sheets? No, he was in rebellion. His wife had made his house uninhabitable (trust me, ladies, there’s only so much chintz and gingham we can tolerate, and those stanky bowls of boiled flower petals are nasty!) for him, and this was his way of trying to reclaim it, if only for forty minutes.