After growing up with a miserly father, a young woman auctions off her affections to sugar daddies.
If money was my first love, sugar was a close second.
When my father killed himself during my first year at college, I had already begun to date men for money. The men were all much older, the youngest 35 and the oldest almost 50. I sought only men who were wealthy and white, men as different from my father as could be. Men who would give to me freely. Sugar daddies.
I was 18 when it started. I wasn’t poor, exactly. Only broke. My relationship with my momma was tense and withering—she told me that if I left Georgia to go to college in New York, she would not support me. So I got scholarships and loans to pay the steep costs of NYU. I had a work-study position at the recreation center where I sat behind a kiosk, writing down the names of sweaty women waiting to use an elliptical. It paid 10 dollars an hour. I had a meal plan. I was doing fine.
But I have always loved money. As a girl I preferred to watch my allowance pile up in a dresser drawer rather than spend it. I stole instead. At the grocery store, I would tiptoe away from my momma and head for the candy aisle. If money was my first love, sugar was a close second. With my allowance snug in one coat pocket, I would fill the other with Snickers and Starbursts.
I was never caught. This was when I first realized that the rules of money were not fixed, that I could make money simply by not spending my own. Then as a woman I found men who were willing to give me money to spend, while my own little work-study paycheck remained snug in a checking account.
My father was a handsome man. The youngest of three brothers in a Nigerian village, he came to America in the 1970s on an engineering scholarship. Over the next 15 years he would have five American children with four American women, one of them white. He lured them with dusky tales of village life and the Igbo chants he sang as he cooked them meals of fufu and egusi.
All of our mothers were made to beg and borrow when our father refused to pay any kind of support. He started the slow, painful process of killing himself when the county sheriff came knocking with an arrest warrant in February of 2009. Unluckily for my daddy, they take child support evasion seriously in Georgia. And I suppose he knew this. Because before answering the door, he drank half a bottle of Liquid-Plumr.
The police later told my momma that he went into convulsions in the backseat of the sheriff’s car. At the hospital, my father vomited blood and drifted in and out of consciousness. During one lucid moment, they had him sign some papers. He signed my momma’s name. He wrote my momma’s name all over the forms, not just on the signature line. Then he lapsed into a coma, and never awoke.
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