Pay to Play

Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Last Saturday at 11:30 p.m., a crazy little club called Christopher's was thumping to the sound of "Brick House." The crowd, which was mostly middle-aged with a spatter of youth, was mainly gathered at the bar closest to the dance floor, where several couples were tearing it up, and we're talking big-time flair. One late-40ish standout pair was a spinning vision in white -- with the man's blazer matching the woman's white shirt and cowboy boots. They appeared to be showing off moves acquired in a swing dance class, where they probably met ten years ago. Everyone on the dance floor seemed to be having so much fun.

It almost made me wish that the whole drama of meeting Mr. Right -- the courtship, the engagement, the wedding, the birthing (sheesh!), the rearing of ungratefuls, and the divorce -- were all behind me instead of ahead of me, so that I could just get a boob job, ship the brats off to my bastard ex-husband's for the weekend, choose an outfit from my all-spandex wardrobe, and get my gym-bunny ass to Christopher's to shake it.

Then I saw the wallflowers -- they were a different story.

A trio of ladies seated at the table near the dance floor sipped cocktails and looked around the room. One of them had surgeon-tightened cheeks, cat eyes, and straight blond hair. Another boasted heavy eye makeup and a blond yarn mop -- styled in what one might call ragamuffin chic.

Suddenly, the third, who had a sharp little bod and light brown hair, stood up in her tight red dress, threw her arms in the air like she owned the place, and crossed the room toward an unknown destination, leaving a space at the booth.

I squeezed in and hollered over the music to the cat-eyed woman, "Give me the scoop on this scene."

She looked at her friend, then back at me in silence.

I moved in closer. "Do you guys come here a lot?"

Cat Eyes replied, "This is only my second time here."

Then I whispered my request into Yarn Mop's split-end-framed ear.

"I can't hear you," she replied.

So I went in closer.

"I can't hear you," she repeated snottily.

Clearly, a 25-year-old woman with a lot of questions was not who they were all dressed up for. They'd invested in their appearance, and they were anticipating the payoff.

It's sad but true that many of the beautiful ladies of a certain age in Fort Lauderdale lack the most necessary ingredient to make the population salivate over their curves, cars, and clothes: money. Gold-digging is a way of life in a town like this, where there's too much of everything, including filthy lucre, or so it seems, at least until it's time for the gals to pay the creditors.

For that awkward moment, there are guys like Jay, a handsome enough, mid-60s man of middling height with dark hair and eyes whom I met in front of Christopher's moments after trying to talk to the wallflowers. He's no Darcy to your Elizabeth, not even Darcy to your Bridget Jones. No, he's just a man with expendable income and a whole lot of love for the ladies.

"You're not leaving, are you?" he asked me while polishing off a can of cream soda.

"I'm looking for sugar daddies and gold diggers," I told him.

He replied, "Then you want to talk to me."

The man walked easily in his khakis and a short-sleeved, black, buttoned-down shirt, which was open to reveal a dash of chest hair and a gold necklace. He's been "officially" divorced for three years, he said.

How old are the women you date?

"In their 30s," he said. "I can't date women my age."

It raises an eyebrow when men of the Pillow Talk generation want to date girls weaned on Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

He explained his predicament convincingly: "They don't look as good as I look. I work out every day, I don't smoke, and I don't drink alcohol or caffeine. I can go eight or nine times in a night. Five times at night and four in the morning."

Logically, a man with such capabilities should not be rocking Grandma. So I got down to the matter at hand. What about the gold diggers?

"I met one girl and first thing, she wants $20,000 to pay credit card debt. Do you know I could have a beautiful woman with me all day and all night for a year for that kind of money?

"I told her, 'OK, first, I would help you if I had anything to do with you.' She was 40 with a beautiful body. Her boobs were well-done. The next time we went out, I said, 'I have a great idea. Be my girl. I need to have some sort of girl. You look beautiful. I would love to be with you. You pay half of your debt and, whatever you pay, I'll match it. In five or six months, we'll pay it off. '"

Sounds like a one-man debt management miracle, right?

He went on, "She didn't say anything. I continued pursuing her. She never had time. I wouldn't give any money. She wouldn't spend her money."

Cat-like, Jay crossed his arms over the parking meter and leaned his head on them.

Is the dynamic ever unpleasant?

"It's unpleasant when people are not normal. I met one woman at Mizner Park. In the beginning, she asked for no money. I helped her with rent. She was sexy, but she was an alcoholic. The day after I met her, we had the best sex ever. Multiple times. I can't believe myself. We went to Disney. All the way back, she sucked me."

Isn't that too much?

"Yeah, but she liked it too."

Later, however, when Jay was at dinner with the woman, he said, he took to dancing with the belly dancer. Though it was all in the spirit of fun, the woman attacked him. "I had six stitches," he said. "She was so jealous. I had to go to the hospital. I told her I don't ever want to see you again. She called me the next day saying she missed me. But I don't give them the idea that I love them."

Do women always want money from you?

"I've gone with some girls who don't ask for anything. In the beginning, I dated a girl from Miami who drove to my house all the time. My place is nice. Everybody comes to me. Then she started talking about credit card bills. When they ask for money, I don't call them anymore."

They do, however, call him.

"Two women call me every day," Jay began. "One calls to get help to pay for a car. The other one is a single mother."

The nature of his relationship with the women was unclear, but one of them apparently had car payments to make. "She wants to live the way she lived before her boyfriend died. She has a beautiful spot on the water. She only drives the most expensive Mercedes. She wants me to set her up with one of my friends. This morning, she called me and asked, 'Did you find me anyone yet?' She wants to be taken care of from A to Z.

"These women are not prostitutes," he assured me. "They are clean, hard-working girls."

That's all good and fine, but frankly, I was a little concerned about the wear and tear caused by all of Jay's juggling.

I asked him, "What's your ideal?"

"Somebody between 38 and 45 who's nice and accepts me the way I am. When I go out with someone, it's not steady. I like to play."

All right, Sugar Daddy, have it your way. But you're gonna hafta pay to play.

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