F*** You, Pay Me

I don’t mean to brag, but 2016 was a busy year for me romantically. I was busy having sex with people I didn’t really like, and I was busy being reckless and letting myself be rejected by these same people who, despite not liking them, I really really wanted to like me. For our second date, a guy I met on Tinder who invited me on a trip to Arizona to meet his parents and I went, OF COURSE, and I never heard from him again afterward, OF COURSE. I fucked my next door neighbor, more than once, and convinced myself I was semi in love with a guy who had a girlfriend but it was OK because they were poly and she didn’t need to know anyway, at least that’s what he told me, only it was really an excuse to treat me and, I assume, her, like garbage.

In 2016 I gained 40 pounds of depression weight and lost almost all my hair to several bad DIY bleach jobs. I had no eyebrows because I’d compulsively pulled them all out. I felt ugly and unattractive and thought I was lucky that anyone wanted to talk to me at all, nevermind that several of the people, namely men in my life, were using me as an emotional security blanket whenever they needed a confidence boost. There’s this thing I do where I’m really only attracted to people who are completely apathetic or openly uninterested in me romantically, but I convinced myself that if I kept being available and cool they would eventually come around. They didn’t. Duh.

I allowed men to use me for comfort, to vent their feelings at me, to text me when they were sad and horny, but only when they were sad and horny. Guys who never talked to me before 2am would hit me up for nudes, as if I’d just give them without asking anything in return, like a goddamn angel of nudes. I got really tired of listening to men and the masc people in my life talk over me, and started to think I’d rather send try-hard Snapchat selfies to old guys for money than nudes to my favorite fuckboy on the off chance that he’ll somehow come around to liking me.

I met my sugar daddy on Tinder. He was older, not attractive, but he was flirting with me, and asked if I’d ever had a sugar daddy before. I pretended to like flirting with him, and it was weird and creepy but he told me he’d give me $300 to meet him at a Starbucks and I was somehow short on my rent which was due in a few days even though I have three fucking jobs right now so I went to meet him at the goddamn Starbucks. Not because I wanted stuff. Fuck stuff. I would sooner die than go on a trip to Vegas with some crusty fuck in exchange for stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that, it’s just that’s a hypothetical situation that has never been offered to me because I don’t really have the look of a take-me-to-Vegas sugar baby because I’m an adult woman and not a baby, just trying to squeeze what she can from capitalist patriarchy. And I only sometimes shave my pits.

I sat in the Starbucks and our meeting time came and went. I texted him to see what was up. He said he wanted me to meet him somewhere in Orange County. He said that he was in traffic, that he was 20 minutes away, that he was in traffic again and that maybe I could meet him at his office instead. It became clear that this guy had no intention of ever meeting me, which is fine, except that my rent was due in a few days, I was short, and the dude had said he would give me $300, and I was going to get that $300. I reminded him that he’d said he’d give me $300 for meeting him, and it wasn’t my fault he completely bailed, so it would be cool if he could do that, like, right now. I sent him the username to the burner PayPal account I’d created and left, thinking that was the end of him. I checked my phone, and there were the $300.

I’m not a scammer. I didn’t lie or catfish him. I have three different jobs.  I didn’t invent the idea of asking dudes for money in exchange for existing as a sort of conventionally attractive human woman. People do this all the time, not just because they’re desperate or, like me, broke and in a bind. I just realized the old-as-shit concept that the emotional work of femmes is grossly undervalued, and that if I’m going to listen to someone talk about their day and other things I don’t care about, I might as well get paid to do it.

I never actually met this guy, even though he eventually helped pay my rent for three months. I didn’t particularly want to. Contrary to what websites like Seeking Arrangement or the latest trash article about sugar babies on college campuses quitting their jobs and demolishing rich guys’ wallets claim, I don’t believe sugar daddies are sweet benevolent overlords of vacations and shoes and Cartier bracelets. Old, rich, predominantly white men are old and rich because more often than not they’ve spent their lives mindfucking people for a living or heading soulless corporations. They know how to make a deal, and they know how to come out on top. To this kind of person, women are replaceable, disposable. I’m glad I never met him. He’s probably trash. Eventually, he ghosted. Surprise.

Dating is work. Trying to date is work. Texting a would-be date, the getting-to-know-you questions and the how-was-your-day and what-do-you-dos and oh-my-god-that-sounds-fascinating conversational banter is work, emotional work that requires immense amounts of energy and is largely uncompensated, financially or emotionally. Forging intimacy with a someone you like and want to get to know better can be exhausting in itself, not to mention getting ghosted, or dumped, and watching all the work you put in, being available, changing around your schedule to accommodate them, go down the drain. And of course, working is work, being underpaid is exhausting, and being broke, queer, and mentally ill is often too much to handle. All I really wanted going into this whole thing was for someone to acknowledge my work.

Despite being probably trash, my sugar daddy served his purpose. I was able to save some of my online sugar baby money and produced a feminist web series pilot about online sugar babies. I hope that, wherever he is, he knows that he did a good deed by supporting women in the arts, and other things he probably doesn’t care about. In other words, he helped fund his own demise. Wherever you are, thank you, and go fuck yourself. My work here is done.