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RECAP: Jennifer is twenty-one and enrolled in Boston University. As she’s having sex with her boyfriend, Trent, Jen gets a call from Massachusetts General Hospital. Her older brother Dixon has overdosed again and he needs an immediate an out-patient detox program for eight thousand dollars, according to the social worker, Molly Connor. Since Dix is a waiter with no insurance, Jen must deal with this, raising the money herself. There is no other source of help.
So Jen asks Theresa, her college roommate, to borrow eight thousand dollars for Dixon’s program. Theresa has loads of money from the rich sugar daddies she’s dating, and Theresa suggests that Jen do the same.
Meanwhile, Molly Connor admitted Dix into Hope Gardens Rehab Center. Jen tells the social worker she will pay for it with a non-existing inheritance. She then lies to Dix as well, telling him that state grants will fund his detox.
Through the website FindingSugar.com, Jen interviews four prospective suitors who could fund Dix’s program with a sugar baby allowance of $5000/month. She rejected them all. Number one was gross. Number two was conceited. Number three was married. And number four wanted to pimp her out as an escort.
With only one day left to find deep pockets for her brother’s rehab, Jen now waits to meet potential sugar daddy number five.
YOUR LAST CHANCE TO MEET MR. “RIGHT” – Is he? [Part 4 of 14]
My last meet up, and my last chance to find a decent guy, if there is one in this “special arrangement.” Dix begins detoxification Saturday, assuming I can start the deal with an infusion of cash. That would be tomorrow, with a check I get tonight…IF I get it tonight. This whole sugar daddy thing, it’s insane. And my heart’s pumping backwards about it.
I check my watch for the second time. It’s five to eight. Tonight I dressed down in a Elie Tahari sweater and Adriano Goldschmeid jeans, both of which I found in thrift stores. I buy most of my clothes in thrift stores.
I wonder if Dix is shooting up now, thinking it’s his last rush before detox. I’ll never forget the first time my brother drank alcoholic. Dix was fourteen, the day Mom left for good, with a man we never met. He stole a bottle from Dad’s liquor cabinet and got plowed in his room.
And Dad, he got smashed that night too. And I just cried, ‘til four in the morning. And at eight, Dix let me come into his bed, and we watched TV for hours. Dad let us stay home from school that day. And he stayed home too. And that night, we all watched TV. I can’t remember what was on, but we ordered pizza. And we sorta had some fun.
Oh, he’s walking through the door now – Mr. Regular; Number Five named Mel Kleinman, looking just like his pictures, which I would forget in a minute if I didn’t need his help. Is that horrible to admit? Yeah, it is. He’s a person, like me. And for whatever reason, this is the way he’s meeting girls, like this is the way I’m meeting money. It is, what it is. And it’s okay. And so is Mel, as I look him over. He hasn’t seen me yet.
He’s got an average body for a guy his age. Mid-fifties, I guess. He’s not fat, but a little over-weight. If muscles exist, they’re hidden under his suit and coat. And he’s about 5’8”, and balding.
The upside? His teeth are white when he smiles, as he’s doing now, and I sense a kindness about him. Or is it meekness? Can’t tell. I stand and extend my right hand for a shake, looking at his left. No wedding band.
“Hi… Mel… I like your hair.”
“Thank you. You look nice too. Mel.”
Actually, in his own way, he does. I just wish he had a flair for clothes. I wish Trent did too. But Trent’s a country dude, a friend of the woods. Natural, like Tarzan. And here I am, thinking about my boyfriend as I smile and act receptive. Is this phony or what? Gotta stay focused.
Mel moves to reception and gives his name. The pretty girl at the desk leads us to our booth. This is my fifth consecutive night in this restaurant and I can imagine what she’s thinking about me. I will never come back here.
We’re sitting across from each other, pretending we both feel relaxed. Neither of us would win a Thespian Award for feigning sincerity, so Mel is first to confess…with a question. “How long you been doing this?”
“Actually it’s my first time.”
“Me too.” He rubs his hand together, discharging angst. Or trying to.
“You married, Mel?”
“Married? Oh, no. Why’d you ask?”
“Just checking. I don’t date married men.”
“Nope. Not married.” His eyes move off me, and he rubs his hands again. A few seconds pass. He comes back to me, straightening his back. “You’ve met other guys from the site?”
He reaches for water, takes a swallow. God, he’s nervous. And it’s getting to me. His gaze meets mine again. “You’re my first time. I mean, meeting a woman like this.”
“Okay…” What can I say? He told me that already.
“It’s a nice way that people can help each other, don’t you think?”
“That’s why I’m here.”
“I don’t have to do this, ya know. I could be dating in other ways.”
“But I like the idea that I can solve some of your problems. And we can have a good time in the process.”
I’d love to believe that. Like I’d love to believe I could be attracted to this man. But I respond with, “Yes, that’s what I like about this arrangement as well. What do you do for a living?”
“Oh, I’m uh…regional sales VP for Cadillac.”
“So, you drive one.”
“Yep. I drive Cadillacs.”
The waiter arrives. I order the chopped salad and Mel requests a shrimp cocktail, explaining to me, and to the waiter, that he had a late lunch and isn’t hungry.
“Anything from the bar?” our server asks.
“Water’s fine,” Mel answers, looking at me apologetically, with his follow up, “I don’t drink alcohol.”
Our waiter makes a note. “And for the lady?”
I ask for, “The house chardonnay,” which I already know is just fine here. Our waiter leaves. Mel continues the interview.
“So how would I be helping you?”
“With the money?”
“This is my senior year, Mel. I’ve got college loans due, I’m maxed out on my credit cards, and I borrowed money from my uncle for books.”
“Your parents can’t help you with that?”
“Both my parents died. A car accident, three years ago. I’ve been on my own ever since.”
“So sorry to hear that.”
“It’s just life, Mel. We all do what we have to do to get by.” Like making up this absurd bullshit.
“So how much would it take to cover your debt?”
How romantic. He popped the money question before the starters got here. “Mel, I’m going to need an allowance of five thousand a month.”
His jaw drops. “Five?”
Now I’m getting annoyed. I shouldn’t have to negotiate this, again. “Didn’t you read the website blog? Where they discussed the agreements?”
“Well five thousand is on the low end.”
“You said, you wanted to help me out.”
“Can we make it three?”
Damn it! He’s making me defend my value! Like I want to talk money at all!
“Mr. Kleinman, I do not want to sit here and debate how much I am worth to you. Five thousand dollars doesn’t come even close to a dollar value of my time. But five thousand dollars is what I need right now so that’s the exchange. Starting, right now.”
“A check. Or cash. Before I leave this booth.”
He goes quiet, just staring at me, mouth still hanging. But fuck, what else can I do? Dix needs the money. Now. Like tomorrow! This man’s my last shot.
I break the silence. “Mel?”
“Did you bring a check?”
“Will you get those two things out and bring them together?”
He reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out his wallet. From that frayed leather billfold he retrieves a single blank check. And as he finds a pen in another pocket, I add one more stipulation. “On the question of intimacy? Feelings have to be real.”
“Suppose you don’t like me.” He’s sounding defensive.
“I promise you, I’ll try.”
“But if you don’t and four weeks are up?”
“Can you afford this, Mel?”
“Then let’s hope we both like each other.” I squeeze out a smile. Mel does the same. Business is over, the tension subsides, the starters arrive. I am now a sugar baby.
Dinner was Mel was actually quite pleasant once our deal came together. Mel was
non-confrontational after that, and close to witty. He made me laugh a few times, and he knows a lot about a lot of things. So we didn’t run out of stuff to talk about it. He’s almost charming.
Okay. He’s no d’Artagnan. But he’s no Dracula either. He’s sweet vanilla and easily to get down. He’s my ice cream, my creamy dude. I hate the words ‘sugar daddy.’
I drove Dixon to Hope Gardens, admitted him and wrote a check for four thousand dollars, half of the payment up front. I met my brother’s support team and we discussed Dix’s care; like what kinds of therapies he would get, how often, what programs he’d get in addition to therapy, the success rate, the “aftercare” and the next steps, should Dix need them. The wild card is Dixon’s nights at home. He’ll have a sponsor helping him, but not 24/7. Dix will be unsupervised for up to ten hours a day. This is the challenge for any user in outpatient care. But Dix says he’ll make it, and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. He wants to get well.
My own challenge is college, which has dropped to last priority over these past few weeks. My grades are showing it too. I’ve got twelve weeks to go. Twelve weeks until graduation, and then I’m out. There’s a placement office on campus. I’ve got to get in there. And hit the books too. And see Trent. He’s called me twice. I have to get back to him. But Mel wants to see me again. Soon. And he bought my time. I want a cigarette.
You know, thinking back, there were times I dated girls that I wasn’t particularly attracted to. Some were set ups. Some were fill-ins. And some were girls asking me to the prom who weren’t asked by other boys. When the kissing came, I did my best to heat it up and be real about it. It never quite happened, and I always wondered if the girls felt that way too.
Did YOU ever date people for reasons other than attraction? How did that work out?
Part 5 publication date: 12/23/11