So, there’s a handsome guy sitting a few seats away from me on the subway. He’s got a polished, suited up Javier Bardem look about him. At the station, the man steps off the train, follows me up the escalator and tells me in gorgeously accented English, “your hair is beautiful.” He says he’s from Costa Rica and owns his own cleaning business. Barely can I get a word in edge-wise as he’s boasting about the luxury hotels and skyscrapers his “people” clean, the mammoth initial investments he procured, the colossal profit he now makes.
Though I’ve hardly said a word, the man wants to know me better and asks for a way to make contact. Because he’s left his cell at home, he says he’ll write down my number then proceeds to pull out a wad of hundred dollar bills from his pocket. Flabbergasted, I watch as he writes my (fake) number on Ben Franklin’s mug.
Eagerly, I make my way to work to share the encounter with my colleagues but one of them has a story that trumps mine. Seems a guy at a bar once peeled a fifty off his own roll of bills, wrote his number on it then slid it across the table and instructed her to call.
Immediately, I regretted giving Mr. Costa Rica a fake number. As a writer, I mourn lost opportunities to unravel the thinking behind kooky situations. If I had the chance, I’d have asked our good man what guys like him expect from these money shows. Did Costa Rica truly think this the best way to plant the seeds of love? Does the unfortunate fellow think money is all he has to offer a woman or does he actually want the kind of girl who’d only dig him for his cash? And what kind of shallow wench would she be?
Maybe when men who’ve never had money finally get some, they think flaunting it is the only way to attract a higher echelon of women. Although, what would make Señor Money Bags think that I, in my second-hand dress and CVS flip flops, was from that echelon?
Whenever men do weird things to appeal to women – feign indifference, brag about work, yell out of car windows to gals whose asses “be tight” – I assume the approach works on some women, otherwise they wouldn’t make the effort. So there must be women out there who say, “criminy, look at all that money” and go right for the guy’s crotch.
I wish I was impressed by money. I’ve got student loans to pay, exotic cities to visit, beach houses to live in while writing Great American novels. Being impressed by men with creative talent and personality may only get me a dingy apartment and a trip to Cleveland. And, dang it, I’ve already been there.
An ex-friend of mine was determined to marry a rich man. At an Obama fundraiser in ’08, she even went so far as to flirt with a member of the Kennedy clan who was speaking at the event. Admittedly, if I was the type to go for money, it would be Kennedy kind of money; that fabulous, East Coast liberal wealth, or even better, old money European riches. This way, I could travel, send my kids to good schools and spend my leisure time building charity organizations in small African villages. All I’d have to do is lounge at the compound and cultivate an addiction to pills.
Alas, as I told my friend at the fundraiser, making eyes at a Kennedy will not lift us commoners from the fray. I guess I’ll have to stick with cleaning moguls still forced to ride the subway. But perhaps these lesser rich boys would impress me if they tried something more useful to flirt with than money. Write your digits on the new Franzen novel or peel off a Whole Foods coupon from your cash wad and put your number there. If you’re like most guys I’ve dated, you could simply scribble it onto an unemployment check or the back of a comic book you don’t want any girl to know you read.
My colleague said her mother has a superstition about taking money from men. When you do, mom says, it steals your spirit. I may not have my beach house, but I’d give it up to keep my soul.