At Salon of the rue des Moulins
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
I have known some characters in my life -- Vancouver is full of them -- and one of those characters was Alexandra Rose. I remembered her today, so I thought I would share her story with you. Alexandra Rose and I both worked for an affluent, prestigious law firm. The clientele of the firm were upscale corporations and well-heeled private individuals. The law firm was a very large, national company with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. It was what is referred to as a silk-stocking firm, which in Alexandra Rose's case is arguably an apt description.
Alexandra Rose was one of four receptionists, and she was very good at her job. She was intelligent, friendly, and well-liked by everyone. She and I occasionally had coffee together in the break room, and she was always very pleasant. Being a receptionist is a much under-rated occupation. Receptionists have to be welcoming and hospitable, no matter how they are feeling, or how disagreeable the clients may be. They have to know where everyone is at all times, and they have to know the core business of the organization. Unfortunately, most receptionists are under-valued and under-paid, and Alexandra Rose was no exception. So, in order to save money for university, Alexandra Rose had a second job after hours. Alexander Rose was moonlighting as a "lady-of-the-night". In other words, Alexandra Rose was a hooker.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
One evening some friends from out of town were staying with me, and we decided to take a drive through the city. My friends wanted to see downtown Vancouver at night. As we drove along Georgia Street, we found ourselves in the "local stroll", where the working girls of the evening plied their trade. And there on the corner of Georgia and Howe was Alexandra Rose, in full hooker regalia. Just at that moment, the light turned red and our car stopped. Alexandra Rose, hoping to solicit some business, sauntered over and tapped on the window. My window. She put her face up close to the window, and I stared at her, and she stared at me. It was a moment of horror for both of us -- a tableau, frozen in time -- as she and I recognized each other, our faces inches apart through the glass. It seemed to take hours for the light to turn green, but finally my friends and I drove away and Alexandra Rose strolled back to her place on the sidewalk.
The next day we both acted as if nothing had happened. I did occasionally see Alexandra Rose "out and about" for the next few months after that, and I heard she eventually put herself through university and got a degree. I imagine she is successful in her life, and probably happily married to an equally successful man who has no idea of her previous occupation. Or maybe he does, and he doesn't care. Either way, I hope she is doing well. She certainly earned it -- in a most unconventional way.