My friend Liesl squeezed me into a rhythm nation-style black dress, with silver buttons on the shoulders and actual epaulets, for God’s sake, for a date with a rich boy named Tanner Godfrey, whose father owned a meat packing company. Tanner wore a cashmere coat, had a bowl haircut and thick lips, and liked always to be impressing someone.
Tanner was offended that I was a vegetarian and tried to get me to eat some of his pork chop, just one bite, because then I would see not just how good it tasted but how natural the food chain was. “We’re meant to eat meat,” said Tanner, who had worn a tie to dinner. I had never been on a date with anyone who wore a tie, not counting prom. “Humans are at the top. If we disrupt the way things should be, who knows what can happen?” Tanner, who had just finished telling me about his hockey team and how well they were doing this season, finally lamenting the way his coach had been cracking down on them for fights during a game, shifted to his thoughts on politics. “Liberals are weak. They live in a dream world.” Tanner hated my major. “What are you going to do with that? What do English majors do, besides teach?” It reminded me of the Bell Jar, when Buddy calls Esther’s poems “air,” only to go on to write his own crappy poems, but I was fairly certain that Tanner would not only miss the reference but find something else objectionable in it that I would be asked to answer for. So I just shrugged.
Tanner did like one thing about me, very much. By the end of the night, we had a deal. I would write his term paper for economics, on something called health maintenance organizations, and he would pay me fifty dollars. It took me three days to write that paper. I actually did the research, studied up on HMOs and then wrote a fairly standard cut and-paste research paper that Tanner had assured me only had to “look good, not actually be good,” and even though he made me wait until he got a grade to pay me, I eventually got my fifty dollars, in an envelope with his father’s company logo on the front. When Tanner called me again, I was surprised, because not only had it been a terrible date, but, despite the effort indicated by my epaulets and his tie and his near-constant talking, it was clear that we had no attraction to each other. Instead, he had a business proposition. He would be my “manager,” he said, and would arrange for me to write papers for all his friends. The logic was persuasive: as pilots in training, did they really need to write well? When you’re 10,000 feet up and something goes wrong, what are you going to do, write your way out of it? “And we—you—could stand to make a lot of cash, if you don’t say anything and we don’t get caught,” he added, almost as an afterthought.
That is how Tanner Godfrey became my pimp.
From “Nothing you are is not a Commodity,” She Lived, and the Other Girls Died. http://www.bauhanpublishing.com/lived-girls-died/