Prostitution. America’s dirty little secret: a titillating, tempting practice that, like a particularly inbred cousin, we rarely discuss in civilized society. Instead, like a particularly inbred cousin, we keep it hidden in the dark basement of our soul. Out of sight. Out of mind.

However, while I’m not here to cast judgement on the fourteen percent of Americans who have purchased sex at least once in their life, paying money for pure, physical closeness has never interested me. It’s boring. Prostitution is an old man’s game. Anyone with a ziplock bag full of loose quarters can simply pay for a kiss or two from a professional working girl.

And that just doesn’t feel right.

If I wanted to spend my hard-earned paycheck on a consequence-free hour or two with an experienced call girl, I’d want it to mean something. I’d want intimacy. I’d want a sense of understanding. I’d want the sort of emotional connection that can’t be created by simply touching a stranger’s lips with your lips.

Let’s cut to the chase. I wanted all of those things.

And so, after a lengthy internal debate, I decided to spend two hundred dollars towards turning that “wanting” into a reality – to forge a real, emotional connection with a high-class escort. And what’s the most intimate, personal event two consenting adults can experience as one?

Watching the film Marley & Me on Blu-ray.

Here’s how it went down.

At exactly 9pm, I heard a light tap on the door to my hotel room. I had paid “Kelsey” in advance for exactly two hours of her time. Two hours where, in her words, I could do “whatever my heart desired.” Coincidentally, the runtime of the critically acclaimed 2008 film Marley & Me is just under 115 minutes. That gave me exactly five minutes to figure out how to operate the hotel’s Blu-ray player. Perfect.

Right away, she could tell I wasn’t going to be any ordinary John. I opened the door and we didn’t waste any time on introductions. As she walked into the room, I slowly, seductively, placed Marley & Me into the Best Western’s Blu-ray player. She raised her eyebrow curiously. Coyly. Wearing my most convincing Marlon Brando smolder, I whispered “we’re going to watch Marley & Me on Blu-ray.” After a long pause, she stared at me seductively and said “what?”

Like a tart.

As I took off my jacket and sat on the bed, she began to unbutton her dress. Coquettishly I demurred “what are you doing?” She replied “I thought we were going to-”

I laughed charmingly and motioned for her to sit next to me. She did. And for the next thirty minutes we watched in rapt silence as the fictional newlyweds Johnny “John” Grogan and Jennifer “Jenny” Grogan (portrayed by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston respectively) moved from their home in Michigan to South Florida. We stared hungrily at the screen as John and Jenny adopted a spunky yellow retriever named Marley (after the musician Bob Marley). And, slowly but surely, we began to form a true, emotional connection as we watched Marley get kicked out of his dog-training class (because he was an untrainable, overactive menace).

Then, suddenly, in her most flirtatious voice, Kelsey stood up and purred seductively “are we just going to watch Marley & Me all night long?”

I stood up too. I put my finger up to her lips and alluringly said “ssh. This is the part where Jen and John go to Ireland on their honeymoon. It’s my favorite scene.”

And then we sat back down. It was all very professional. Except that it wasn’t. The more time we spent watching the film together, the more the clearly demarcated line between prostitute and client became irrevocably blurred. Kelsey kept checking her watch, compassionately; I kept mouthing along while John Grogan muttered “you know we couldn’t find a better dog. I love you. More than anything. You’re a great dog.” And together, Kelsey and I began to craft a language of mutual understanding, companionship, and respect.

But then, all too soon, it was over. Marley had died. And, before I even knew what had happened, the film had ended. Staring disbelievingly at the rolling credits, through my mask of tears I sultrily muttered “the runtime of Marley & Me is just under 115 minutes. I only paid for two hours. So… we’re good?” Kelsey stared at me.

Intimately.

Then, as one, as spiritual equals, Kelsey and I got up off of the bed simultaneously.  Kelsey made her way to the door. I made my way to the television to eject the critically acclaimed, 63% Rotten-Tomatoes-rated film Marley & Me from the hotel’s Blu-ray player.

I almost missed her as she walked out of my life, but, at the last possible moment, I turned and saw her staring at me. She softly murmured “that was weird” and then she laughed. Almost cruelly.

But, before Kelsey had time to leave. Before she had time to close the door on me forever… I saw a single tear go down her face.

And the emotional connection was complete.

-Dan Caprera