Once at a party, a Japanese composer offered to teach me how to play the harpsichord if I would tutor his daughter in English.

One night on a city bus in Austin, a man smuggling gasoline back to his stranded vehicle offered me a job hanging drywall.

Another time, a fellow cook in a restaurant where I worked offered to make me his partner in a subcontracting company. I told him I didn’t know anything about construction, but he assured me it didn’t matter. I know all the local mafia guys, he said. I can guarantee we’d get the winning bids.

Back in 1990, a Chinese friend offered me an all-expenses-paid trip to mainland China. The only catch was I had to marry someone, a dissident, and convince the INS it was a genuine marriage so she’d get a green card.

Hard to remember all the times I’ve been offered redemption of one kind or another: redemption of the soul, redemption of the body. I was never in the market for Jesus or heroin, but sometimes it’s been difficult to turn down an offer of physical intimacy, especially after too many drinks. No, I’d say, but I’m a writer. I’ll listen all night if you’d like to talk.

Five years ago on a dating site, someone offered no-strings-attached sex. There are always strings, I said.

Outside a Greyhound bus station in Columbus, Ohio, I was offered $50 if I would stand there for an hour and do nothing. It sounded good — nothing is what I do best. But the fellow added that at a certain point someone would approach and ask whether I was Roger, and I’d have to say yes. My name is Carl, I said.

10 Replies to “Offers”

  1. Fascinating offers, and the question of why you received them? What was/is it about you that invites these offers? Did you accept any, perhaps listening all night? I think the first one would have interested me.

  2. I don’t know. Doesn’t everyone get off-the-wall offers like this? Well, maybe not. Have done the listening thing, sure. Refused the harpsichord offer because to me, learning an instrument is more work than fun. But he probably just wanted an English tutor he wouldn’t have to pay.

  3. You mean it’s all true? Fascinating!
    I’ve never had offers like that. Now I’ll have to try and think of what offers I did get.
    Too bad you turned them all down – think of the stories you could have written about them.
    On the other hand, why not write what you imagine wouldd have happened if you did take them all up?

  4. Fred – I have a feeling the Roger in question might have been living dangerously, though.

    beth and christine – Glad you found the post thought-provoking. It was one of those things I definitely did not expect to write when I sat down at the computer.

    Natalie – Good suggestion. I may. (Or I may have already – I can barely remember what i wrote last week, let alone ten years ago. After a certain point, I just begin to repeat, I think.)

  5. Beautiful. This is the sort of document that makes life seem full.

    The last one is priceless. As a writer, you’ll lie for money, but only when telling your own lies, not anyone else’s.

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