Have you ever tried to sell something that, for years, you had been trying to give away for free? Well, I have.
It all started when I saw posters for ‘Student for Sale’. The organization, made up of a group of Hanze students, was advertising a charity auction where students were being sold for a date to raise funds for kids in Kenya, led by local So you think you can dance celebrity Floris Bosveld. It was a good cause and whatever happened, I thought it would be a fun experience to take home.
So with several friends, who I managed to rope in to share the experience, I decided to volunteer and go ‘under the hammer’.
I did have some doubts, though. One of my friends is a likeable, veritable stud and charming with it. Little girls who kiss frogs expect them to turn into a close likeness of him, so I did not rate my chances particularly highly alongside him. However, the guys are good friends, so I thought it would be good to have them come along.
Of course, I did what I could to make myself appear to be the very cutting edge of cool. I even wore cufflinks which, I believe, just ooze style and sophistication. My friends did likewise (without the cufflinks) as we prepared to put ourselves on the block for the crowd in Huize Maas on the Vismarkt last week.
The competition? Big, butch, impressive specimens. Some tall, some dark, but – damn them – all handsome. The monetary figure that I had estimated as my ‘price’ dropped by a euro or two. It dropped even further when I saw the buyers.
You might think that people who buy dates are the kind who can’t get them for free – as in middle-aged women dressed too young for their age and size. However, the girls were definitely all right. Most of them were stunning and none of them were unattractive. I don’t know what I had been expecting, but wall-to-wall beauty never crossed my mind, and these were the people I was trying to sell myself to?! I unconsciously straightened my hair and checked that my flies were closed.
When my friends arrived I was sipping a drink which I was holding on to for dear life, and we made a pact: no matter who buys us, we go on the date, no backing out.
However, my call came up too soon. I was the first of us to be called. Lucky me. The guys before me hadn’t been sold for a huge amounts and, true to expectations, the girls sold for considerably more, some receiving bids of €70.
There I stood, trying to look nonchalant and confident, smiling as widely as I could and trying to hide the fact that my heart was beating so fast that it was amazing the room couldn’t hear it over the auctioneer’s introduction.
I was announced as an ‘International’ from Manchester. It sounded almost accusatory, but that was probably just my nerves. The call for bids came.
No hands went up.
More impassioned calls for bids.
Still no hands.
I was starting to wonder how on earth I had got myself into this when, finally, I saw a hand go up. My heart stopped. Then I saw that the arm to which the hand was attached didn’t belong to a woman – I had been bought by a guy! A quick glance over to my friends told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to forget this for a long time.
‘Just so you know dude’, I said, wanting to make myself clear straight from the start, ‘I’m not gay.’
‘That’s fine’, he said with a smile, ‘neither am I.’
I could have cried. I had been ‘pity-purchased’ by a guy, no less!
After a quick handshake and laugh – although mine was a little forced – he introduced me to his friends. One of them, a gorgeous girl, came up. ‘It was the whole group that bought you’, she said with a smile, ‘not just him.’
’Why couldn’t you have been the one to come and claim me?’ That would at least have looked like I had an interested lady.
Despite the pact, I suggested that my ‘buyers’ find a different use for the date: a coffee luncheon, hardly worth the €5. They didn’t seem to mind.
At that point a girl took to the stage, a girl I recognized. I had seen her do improve. comedy and she had been great, so I figured, why not?
I made the first bid, €5.
Another hand went up. A contender?
Of course I won, so now I’ll have my date anyway. It only cost me €20.