I knew if I kept seeing him, I would drink. But I was scared. How would I pay my bills without him?
When I first got sober, I had two sugar daddies. I had quit my job at a law school where I spent most of my time in the bathroom sitting on the toilet, crushing lines on top of a bar review book.
My solution to finding another job was posting a headless picture of myself on Craigslist in heels and red garters.
“Sugar Daddy Wanted.”
I met two nice men. Omar, the Iranian, and Harry, the Orthodox Jew.
It was two weeks after our very first meeting that Harry and I had our sixth date downtown at The Georgian. He had on a crisp white shirt and black pleated pants.
He sat on the bed and untied his polished black shoes. “You’re all I’ve been thinking about.”
All I was thinking about was how I was going to be with him without getting high or drinking. I had never been sober with him before. I turned my back, unzipped my skirt. He undressed. His stomach hung and there were patches of gray and black hair. His thighs had red and blue veins. He walked towards me, breathing heavy, a scent of spearmint and baby powder. I just wanted it to be over. He kissed me with his big, too warm lips, and we were on the bed with me on top of him holding my hips, moving his. He groaned and it was over.
He showered, bringing his clothes into the bathroom. I sat on the edge of the bed and waited until he came out. He put on his yarmulke, handed me an envelope and left. I had made a thousand dollars.
I knew if I kept seeing him, I would drink. But I was scared. How would I pay my bills without him? I didn’t have a job. Harry and Omar were my jobs. I had been to enough meetings where I had heard about becoming self-supporting through one’s own contributions. I didn’t think that was possible. How would I ever do that? At the same time I was desperate to get sober. I was 38 and there was something in me that knew I was at my end. I didn’t know how I was going to do it—get by without Harry’s help—but I knew it was either Harry or sobriety. I chose sobriety.
Omar was different. The only time we ever had sex was the third time he took me out. He put on Sade and made me an Iranian dinner and I drank lots of red wine. After that, he never pushed for sex. It was like he was courting me. I didn’t understand him—why he was patient and wanted to do things for me like drive all the way from Sherman Oaks in his black waxed Audi to take me to Trader Joe’s, filling the cart with coffee, dish soap and tomatoes on the vine (not the cheap Roma ones that I usually got). He’d help me inside with the groceries, leaving half the month’s rent on the table and kissing me goodbye on the cheek.
He’d buy me things that I never wore except when I saw him. I wanted to tell him what I really needed was money to pay the phone bill or something practical, like a new hot plate for my makeshift kitchen, but I didn’t feel right saying that to him.
Once a week we went for sushi on Larchmont. One time, the hostess took our picture. The next time we came the picture was on the wall, the two of us smiling, Omar’s arm around me, a sushi chef’s hat in the background and under the picture in black ink: “Happy couple share fresh squid.”
As time went on, I knew he really did care for me and I liked him, the way he smelled, talking to him, going out to dinner once a week with him. But I didn’t feel anything for him romantically. The thing of it was, being with him felt like more than placing an ad on Craigslist and having an arrangement with a sugar daddy. Now that I was sober, it became harder to continue seeing him and I felt that I was using him. And I was, but I was too scared to not have his help.
When I had about three months sober, I talked about Omar at a woman’s meeting. “I can’t keep taking money from him, I’ve got to get a job but I don’t know what. And I can’t, I just can’t, be shut in an office for eight hours and I’m a terrible waitress.”
“Honey,” a lady said. “What you need is a simple sober job. A job where you don’t have to think, you just show up and learn to be on time, honest and accountable.”
“And make ten dollars an hour?” I asked. Read more “the fix”…