Melissa met Eric on the sidewalk outside the temple at 17:58. She escorted him inside.

    The Rabbi greeted them, saying, “Melissa! I see you brought a guest this time. Good going.” He shook hands to introduce himself. “I’m Rabbi Stevens.”
    Eric replied. “I’m Eric, a freshman at the University.”

    At 18:00, Rabbi Stevens led the discussion. “For the benefit of the guests who are here the first time, let me explain what we’re about. We believe that human beings are created with God-given rights, and that the only legitimate function of governments is to secure these rights. More information on our doctrine can be found at Libertarian Church dot com.

    “Humans have a right to form governments for the protection of their rights, and also have a right to protect their own rights, and the rights of others, without the help of the government. It is our goal to find ways to outdo the government through free, voluntary solutions, both in protecting rights and in filling the needs of people.

    “We’ve been developing projects toward this end. Yusef over here, for example, has started talking to unemployed panhandlers, about how to find a job. It’s definitely not the job of government to find jobs for people, but Yusef can often help these panhandlers by pointing them in the right direction, giving them rides to interviews and telling them how to get hired.

    “Now, does anyone have anything new they want to tell us about their project? Melissa?”

    Melissa addressed the group. “Last year, police here in Sacraleena broke up a prostitution ring, and on further investigation, learned that some of the girls, as young as 14 years old, had been kidnapped from their homes in Thailand, others in Guatemala. The pimps also trafficked in women from here in the United States. A few of them were doing it willingly, others were enslaved. When imagining the suffering these girls went through, do not overlook the suffering the men also endured, in being so desperate for sex that they had to pay good money for a rush job by a hooker.”
    Rabbi Stevens responded, “Oh, and this will be good. Just how do you propose to solve this problem?”

    Eric stepped in to explain something. “Value depends on scarcity. Men are willing to pay for sex, in many cases because they cannot find it any other way. There are ways to make it easier for them to find it.”

    Rabbi Stevens asked, “And how is that?”

    Melissa spoke up. “Well, there are a lot more women than men at the University. Some are not having much luck. They need a man, and the men need them. All the women have to do, is say so. The really big trouble is, that’s not always easy. I’m sure there have been plenty of people here in this congregation who have had desires for other members, but could not say so, because this isn’t the place for that. Well, in some of those cases, the desired person also would have wanted that, but they never got together, because this is not the place for that. So there’s all this suffering going on, some people going for extended periods without any, because they cannot say what they want.”

    Bert asked, “Are you suggesting making a place for that?”

    Melissa answered, “We don’t need to, because there already is such a place. It’s on North Second Street, from North Burbank to about the Governor William Jayne Highway.”

    Rabbi Stevens observed, “The red light district, or, excuse me, the adult entertainment district.”

    “Exactly.” Melissa said. “With some organizing and some educating, it may be possible to let the men who patronize those places, that an option is available to them, that they’ll like better.”

    Eric explained, “I’ve been known to patronize a strip joint bar once. It was exciting and also depressing. I had a chance to buy a hooker. Sure, I would enjoy having sex, just like I enjoy having people laugh at my jokes, but paying somebody to have sex with me is kind of like paying somebody to laugh at my jokes. I didn’t realize at the time that I did have some opportunities, until Melissa explained how the women speak in code and offer clues instead of just saying they want some, because they can’t. Well, in the adult entertainment district, maybe they can.”

    Rabbi Stevens admitted, “It’s true these signals, codes, or innuendos, whatever you call them, can be difficult to catch. When I was young, there was a song I used to hear on the radio, called Harper Valley PTA, and I always used to wonder what they were encoding with the lyrics, ‘Well, there’s Bobby Taylor sittin’ there and seven times he’s asked me for a date. Mrs. Taylor sure seems to use a lot of ice whenever he’s away. And Mr. Baker, can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town?’ I was able to figure that Mr. Baker got the secretary pregnant, and in those days, it was a scandal to have a pregnancy out of wedlock, so she left town to avoid the embarrassment, but I couldn’t figure out what they were insinuating by Mrs. Taylor using so much ice. Well, they were trying to say the ice man kept dropping by when Bobby Taylor was away, and only Mrs. Taylor was home, inferring that the ice man was having sex with Mrs. Taylor.”

    Sandra wondered, “Well, let’s say a woman can get up the nerve to walk up to a guy and announce her sexual availability. Just where do you propose they get it on, across the street in Governor Edmunds Park?”

    “Not exactly,” Melissa replied, “but there are hotels here in town. If we can get a grant, that might cover the hotel rooms, and we can get discounted, monthly rates and then seek donations. It won’t be that much, when you consider that the daily charge is for 24 hours, and a number of men can be satisfied over that period of time.”

    “Two important issues here.” Rabbi Stevens said, then continued, “Just how will these women be distinguished from other women who happen to be walking by, not only the prostitutes but the pedestrians, and how will they tell the guys about their availability?”
    Melissa answered, “The woman might walk up and greet him, ‘I’m free tonight.’ which says it all. It says she is available, and her price. They could even wear uniforms.”

    Dave observed, “Uniforms would be a big help. That tells the guy he can walk up and greet her.”

    Melissa observed, “Happily married people also have an important role in the process, and that is where education will be useful. Somebody needs to explain to them that if somebody at work, or school asks them for a date, don’t just say ‘NO’ but also offer to help them find somebody. Even just saying three words, ‘Try the internet.’ can point the person in the right direction and make a big difference. This applies when they are asked for a date, or hear somebody lamenting having no luck.”

    Rabbi Stevens said, “A lot of these people want to feel superior, and lose their superior feeling if they help everybody else up to their level. It’s too bad, because what goes around returns around.”

    Beth agreed. “Let’s say it’s almost midnight, and I’m bringing my crying baby with an ear infection to the hospital, and my car won’t start. Some guy is walking through the parking lot, who hasn’t had a date in way too long. The women don’t want him because he is always in a bad mood. He’s always in a bad mood because the women don’t want him. He gets picked on and taunted because he’s having no luck. Well, he doesn’t have to get violent to vent his anger. He can just keep walking, and leave me there. Maybe if he could get a date once in a while, like almost everybody else, he’d also jump start my car for me, like almost everybody else would, and he’d walk away feeling good about it.”
    Rabbi Stevens noted, “Education also is important for children under 18, because we can’t exactly enlist them, but people their age need affection, too. We’ll need to tell them what to say if somebody not their type asks for a date. It is possible the asker may be suffering, or maybe not.”

    Eric said, “The government is involved in plenty of issues already, and it is definitely not the proper role of the government to make sure every guy has a girlfriend and every girl has a boyfriend who wants one.”

    Rabbi Stevens agreed, “The government is involved in far too much, and fails miserably at what it does. Too many idiots vote.”

    Eric agreed. “On my way up here, I saw a sign flanked with flashing yellow lights, saying, ‘Crosswalk, State School for the Blind,’ and another saying, you know, to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk. Like, duh! People who can’t figure that out, get to vote.”


Copyright 2007 Tom Alciere