As the Eliot Spitzer-prostitution scandal followed a now-familiar script this week - hastily called news conference, terse apology to family and the public, stricken wife at his side - and ultimately culminated in his resignation yesterday, a nation inured to this kind of public drama had only one question left unanswered.
What do you have to do to earn $5,500 an hour, the highest figure charged for the Emperor's Club women?
And do you have to wear anything special?
After podium appearances by the powerful to answer charges of gay sex, not-quite sex with interns and airport bathroom sex, we all know more than we need to know about the intimate lives of public officials - except that one important fact: Is it worth it?
I'm willing to bet that was the first thought of every woman out there: What's worth five grand?
"I asked my husband this morning," said one of my girlfriends, "and even he didn't know."
"On my best day, I don't know what I could do that would be worth $5,500," she said.
The governor of New York, who was caught on a wiretap negotiating for the services of a very high-priced call girl, is alleged to have paid something like $4,300.
That's kind of an odd dollar figure, isn't it? I mean, why not $4,500? What was missing that was worth 200 bucks?
And what's the difference between $4,300 and $5,500? And who decides? I mean, is there some kind of sliding scale that the rest of us women could use? Maybe some kind of menu?
Newsday reported that Spitzer may have spent as much as $80,000 on liaisons over several years. The Emperor's Club VIP Web site, before it was taken down, said the top-ranked women cost $31,000 a day (dawn to dawn). I wonder if that included meals or if you get, like, a 15-minute break.
It also showed faceless pictures of the women. Frankly, I've seen more skin in a Victoria's Secret catalog, so I am not sure where the money is going.
My theory is that Spitzer, who as a crusading prosecutor broke up a couple of prostitution rings, found out who the really good ones were so he wouldn't have to settle for some cheap date.
But I also wondered, who decided on the performance rankings - a scale of one to seven diamonds - awarded each of the Emperor's Club prostitutes? It sure wasn't AAA. Was it like American Idol? Did Spitzer and the other clients vote with their cell phones?
We deserve to know what he got for his government paycheck so the rest of us have a frame of reference. I think it should be part of any public apology.
My husband has a theory that the high-powered people who get caught in these unseemly messes - Marv Albert biting his little friend, Marion Barry smoking crack with his - aren't like the rest of us. (Duh.)
He says they need a heck of a lot more than a couple of glasses of white wine or couple of Law & Order reruns to relax.
I guess we know now that it takes about $5,500 to get a powerful man to relax. It is good to have a dollar figure to work with. It puts Saturday night in a whole new light, doesn't it, ladies?
Spitzer apparently paid for his call girl's train ticket to Washington and booked her into the Mayflower Hotel to keep him company before his congressional testimony - on bond insurance, no less.
I can't even get my husband to take me along to a Super Bowl, where his idea of really good room service is being able to get a rum and Coke and a club sandwich after midnight.
There's one more question left unanswered in the Spitzer scandal.
How much did he have to pay his wife, Silda, to take the stage with him? What does she get for going through this?