She sat back, and stared at him. The dimly lit restaurant cast shadows on his features. The result was very attractive. His moist eyes glistened behind the shadows created by his high cheek bones. He really was beautiful, but she just couldn’t abide his comment, regardless of her situation.
“Who vilified the Gold Digger?”
“What?” he had a nervous smile in his eyes. The semi-prescient sense from her tone warning him his comments struck a nerve.
“Who vilified the Gold Digger?” she said again.
“If this is a serious question, I don’t have the answer for you. If it’s a joke my response might be Kanye? Jamie Foxx? They seem like a safe place to start pointing fingers.”
She decided to give up on this one, or at least she wasn’t going to play this from her typical playbook. She looked back at him and returned the smile. He was bating her, hoping for something, but like all the other men in his position—wealthy, handsome, ambitious— he was already anticipating a back and forth he’d have to guide her through. His face said I desperately want a reparté, so much so that I’m willing to hold your hand through it.
“How much money did you make last year? Honestly. I’m not an auditor or ‘the face’ for an elaborate heist. How much money did you make last year?”
He paused for a moment, the smile never leaving his face, never breaking eye contact. “I think my taxes said 1.7 million.” He was going to play.
“How much of that do you think you spent on nights out like this? How much do you think you spent on wining and dining your next conquest? Did you buy any gifts? I bet you buy really great gifts. You’re probably scientific about it, maybe you even have a formula for it. Hotel rooms and vacations? No you wouldn’t go on vacation with someone. Too much time. So how much?”
“Well, you seem to have me figured out. How much do you think I spent.”
She paused to consider this. Her face pinched a bit to compute the mental math. The delay was merely her way of accepting his challenge. She had agreed to go about this differently, but that didn’t mean she would be bitchy to him. She refused to be anything less than sexy even in taking a man down a peg. She wanted him to want her even as he learned that he wasn’t going to get her.
“I’d guess you didn’t make it through the thirty first without spending at least 150 chasing.”
A momentary look came across his face, it told her she wasn’t far off. Close enough to keep this going.
“How much of that strange was worth it? How many of those nights ended with a lack-luster grunt in the dark? Your energies spent, an itch scratched but not quite satisfied? How many of those mornings began with a hard-on you’d rather just jerk-off in the shower than prolong the façade of interest any longer? She rolls over and rouses you or wakes as you sneak to the shower. You can see the scene, right? Your faces are interchangeable for anyone else’s. This is an archetypical story, the specifics don’t really matter. You’re just following the script.”
He was leaning back in the chair now. He had yet to break his gaze. He still smiled but instead of the patronizing knowing in his eyes, she found a quizzical puzzlement. A look that said he wasn’t sure if he’d like where this would end up, but he was willing to keep playing.
“I think it’s safe to say most.” He sat up. “There were a handful of memorable encounters. An interesting setting. An interesting request. An interesting technique. But not many memorable people.” His forehead showed a deep pensive wrinkle, but still a smile persisted. “The play has an incredible plot, all of the right devices, but the characters were all wrong.”
Now she leaned in, the position of power had shifted. To any onlooker their smiles would have indicated a comfortable date— the conversation hadn’t broken, their postures seemed comfortable— but their body language would belie the interplay below the surface. She was throwing body blows with each of her accurate assessments. He leaned in to these blows as if to say is that all you’ve got?
“And how many of those women did you prey upon? How many of them were interns? How many of them were people who were persuaded by your position of power? Weak fawns who fell victim to this gaze? A secretary, maybe? A waitress?”
“More than a few.”
“Is there even any sport in it?”
“In some, certainly, but even a hunter wouldn’t pass by a lame doe. He needs to eat. Not every meal needs to posses some badge of an honorable hunt. Not every hunt needs a story.”
“But this is my point. You sit there and deride Gold Diggers, but what makes you different? Men use their positions of power constantly in sex. In fact, they fabricate it when it doesn’t exist— maybe they rent a car, borrow a friends apartment, dress in a manner that well exceeds their income. Men lean on their power like a crutch.”
“Of course. Why wouldn’t we? It works. Time tested, lover approved. I suppose it lacks a certain originality, but if it ain’t broke, right?”
“The reason it works is because you can prey on some biological imperative, that our desire to make babies is stronger than yours. Women who want to find ‘Mr Right’ have to sift through mountains of men like you. They have to take a leap of faith to find out if you suck, or if that charming warmth in your eye is real. Could you be as sweet as your eyes are implying? And of course, YOU aren’t, so they slog on through the others. Those women are doomed. They so desperately want you to be good, they’ll let you in no matter the cost.
“But this makes my point perfectly. You use what you have to make things work for what you want. You want something warm and wet, and you get it. A Gold Digger is just a derogatory term for men to call women who see what they want and take it in their own way. Are you better because you want sex and take it instead of money? If you think so, I have to tell you I don’t see it.
“You spent time ascending an imaginary career ladder. Going to school, shaking hands, kissing babies. All of that was so that you could find yourself in the position you’re in, to have something to appeal to the opposite sex. I spent my time eating right, taking care of my body, doing pilates, doing yoga, doing kegels. You studied business, I studied business men. What makes us different?”
His smile had dulled. His mouth kept the crescent shape, but his eyes showed something else. His eyes told the same story the tautness in his pants told.