Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness - Suzy Favor Hamilton (2015)

Chapter 14. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE

I loved the fact that I already had regulars, and I was excited to see Bob. When I walked into his suite, I kissed him with the passion of a lovers’ reunion and perched myself on the edge of his couch, wondering what he’d want from me that day and eager to give it to him.

He seemed excited to see me, which I liked. He poured our drinks and then sat down close to me on the couch. I was expecting him to compliment me, maybe even say something sexy he wanted to do with me. Instead, he dropped a bombshell.

“I know who you are,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I said. “I’m Kelly.”

“Sure, when you’re here in Vegas, but I put two and two together, and I know that you’re Suzy Favor Hamilton when you’re home in Wisconsin.”

Mark had warned me, and I hated that he was right, hated being reminded of the old life I’d just pried myself out of. But I wasn’t worried. I knew I belonged in this world and nothing bad would happen to me while I was here. Bob watched me eagerly, as if he was enjoying this moment, as if knowing my secret meant that our relationship was somehow special, deeper than any others I had.

“Don’t worry,” he continued. “I’ll never tell anybody.”

“I know you won’t,” I said. “I trust you.”

“Good,” he said. “You should. Now let’s go get you some new lingerie.”

I liked the sound of that. Having men spend money was now a big part of the thrill for me. The high was already building as we entered the shops at Caesars and approached the Agent Provocateur display window, with its mannequins in naughty poses in gorgeous lace. The store looked expensive and exclusive, and I felt very special as I walked in next to Bob, standing by as he flipped through the racks of skimpy lingerie with confidence, picking out pieces he liked and giving them to a saleswoman.

“She’ll be modeling them for me,” he said to the woman, nodding my way.

The woman, who was very thin and pretty enough to have been a model herself, gave me a knowing look. Instead of being embarrassed, I felt excited by the fact that she knew why we were there. I strutted along behind her into the fitting room as Bob sat on a small sofa to wait for my version of a runway show. As soon as I had the first bra-and-panty set on, the woman came into my dressing room to check the fit. Seeing her come up behind me in the triptych of mirrors was enough to turn me on, even before she’d put her hands on me to adjust the straps. It wasn’t that I wanted to have sex with this woman, but I liked the attention, liked having her focused so intently on my body. When she had gotten the fit just right, I pushed open the dressing room door and, without a moment’s hesitation, strolled right out into the store where Bob was sitting, not caring that I might be visible to other shoppers. Bob beamed at me.

“Holy shit,” he said.

Head held high, wide smile on my face, I paused just in front of him, close enough that he could have reached out and touched me.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” I said.

“Turn around,” he said.

I made a slow circle, allowing him to admire every inch of my bare skin, which I knew was toned and tanned and ready for a close-up.

I modeled several combinations for Bob. Finally, I put on one that was made entirely out of black netting, which I found pretty strange, but as soon as he saw me, his whole face lit up. “That’s the one that I like,” he said.

I stood beside him at the cash register while the saleswoman wrapped the lingerie in tissue paper and rang it up. The total for one bra and one pair of panties was three hundred dollars, more than I normally spent for an entire outfit. Of course, Mark and I made good money selling real estate, and I’d done well as a professional runner, but it had never been a part of our lifestyle to pay that much money for decadent purchases like lingerie. This was a whole new thrill. I throbbed with the pleasure of the entire outing and the knowledge of what was to come when we got back to his hotel room and I modeled it for real.

From such a young age, I’d been told I was special, a prodigy, destined for greatness, and I had spent my whole life chasing that dream on the track. Now, in Vegas, I was looking to be number one, too. At first, it had been enough to have the men I slept with tell me how amazing I was. And then, when I’d needed to take it up a notch, having sex for money had been enough. Then my need to compete turned into wanting more and better gifts from my clients. Now, chasing the high, I became obsessed with the rankings that clients gave escorts on the go-to website for information about escorts all over the world, the Erotic Review. The rankings were the thrill for me, and they fed my insatiable desire to compete. Vegas was no different than the track. If I was going to compete, I had to win.

Formulating a plan of attack to climb through the rankings, I thought of regulars I could surely receive 10s from, and prepared myself to go the extra mile for new clients who, in turn, I trusted would write me a positive review. I wouldn’t rest until I was number one in Vegas.

Meanwhile, I continued to text with Bridget, checking in with her about my schedule. Although I was never sure who was behind the service, she was the only person I ever dealt with there. And the longer I knew Bridget, the more impressed I was by her and the more I liked her. She began to show me the ropes, explaining that there was a schedule of conventions to suggest which weekends would be the busiest, so they could make sure the best girls were on hand to meet the demand. In late February, she texted to let me know that there was going to be a NASCAR race in Vegas the weekend of March 10 and 11, and that I definitely wanted to be in town because I could make as much as five thousand dollars for two days. When Bob texted me to request an overnight when he was in town for the race, that sealed the deal. I booked my ticket. Mark didn’t say a word.

AS THE PLANE DESCENDED, I could almost feel the lights of Vegas waiting for me, reaching up into the sky to welcome me home. To welcome Kelly home. She wanted to come out in all of her sexy, fun, manipulative glory. She couldn’t wait to put on her black eyeliner and false eyelashes, her Agent Provocateur bra-and-panty set, and her black high heels. She couldn’t wait to think only about sex. She couldn’t wait to be free. Finally, Kelly couldn’t wait any longer, even though we were still landing.

I pulled off the bulky sweater I’d been wearing to cover up my figure in Wisconsin, revealing tight black leggings and a tank top. I could hardly stay in my seat. It felt so small and restrictive, and I felt so big and sparkly. I’ll show them how sexy I am, and that I have all the power. My heart beat even faster, echoing off my breastbone. Get me off this plane. I am so ready to be the real me. I never was meant to be Suzy Favor Hamilton. This is who I am.

Toward the end of my time in Vegas, when my mania was at its most pronounced, I didn’t want anything to pull me out of my high, and it became increasingly difficult for me to make myself go home to Wisconsin, or even think about the life I’d left behind there. But my normal life was going on while I was away. And now that I’m looking back on this period of my life from a healthy perspective, this is probably the most difficult part of my illness for me to come to terms with—how I temporarily abandoned my husband and daughter, and absented myself even further from my parents, making up lies when necessary to explain my absence.

Thankfully, I had a wonderful husband who was at home during this time, covering for me in every way possible. He made excuses for my time away to our real estate colleagues and family members, saying my public speaking career had taken off, removing me from home more than ever before. When I was gone, he got up every morning at six o’clock in the morning, began the day’s work that would keep our real estate business booming, got Kylie up and off to school, devoted himself to all the demands of our business during a nonstop workday, picked Kylie up from school and took her to her various after-school activities, and made sure she was fed and bathed and fully loved before tucking her into bed again at the end of the day. Only to get up the next morning and do it all over again. When pressed by friends and family, he lied on my behalf, hid his unhappiness, and put on a brave face for the entire world to see.

I know this time was anything but easy for him, and it makes me so sad to think of him there all alone. I also feel terrible about lying to my parents, although I can see this was just my way of internalizing and continuing the cycle of denial and silence that plagued our family. This was how we’d dealt with Dan’s illness when I was a kid. And this was how it happened all over again when I was an adult. Of course, none of us knew any of this back then. We were all just doing the best we could in the moment, no one more so than Mark, who earned my eternal gratitude by holding it all together during such a difficult time. I can only hope he becomes an example for other spouses and family members out there who are struggling to support a loved one who happens to be bipolar. You are not alone. It can and does get easier. And our family is very much rooting for yours.