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.