Go ahead, arrest me. I solicited a friend.
That’s right. Just a few days ago, I paid a woman to spend time with me.
Perhaps you didn’t believe me when I promised to try out Rentafriend.com? Well, I did. Verdict? It was almost normal.
I found my rent-a-friend—let’s call her Lisbeth—through the company website. In my search of local women around my age, there were only two people who seemed solely interested in being hired for friendship. The profiles of the other women were more, shall we say, friendly, than even I’d hoped for (except for the one girl who I’m pretty sure is doing the Bloods gang sign in her photo. Awesome). I chose Lisbeth because she seemed more interested in going to farmer’s markets than meat markets.
Keep in mind that in order to even contact Lisbeth I had to pay the $24.99 for a month’s subscription to the website. Then she told me that she charges $20 an hour. Then she suggested an all-day affair.
We settled on lunch and the museum. The strangest thing about the whole experience was that it wasn’t particularly strange. The time we spent together was quite…usual. Almost as if we were actual friends.
Until it came time to pay for lunch. I figured part of the gig was that I pick up the tab, but she totally did the fake wallet reach. Ladies, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It was the classic date move. You don’t actually intend to pay, but it would be rude if you didn’t pretend to offer, right? Um, yeah, I know that move. I use that move.
Over lunch I learned that Lisbeth is 28, like me, and a social worker. She’s renting out her friendship to make extra money since she’s only employed part time. I, however, was her first “client.” The other interested parties were all men who either seemed creepy or spoke such broken English that she didn’t see how they’d communicate, let alone hang out.
She seemed like someone who, under different circumstances, I could actually be friends with. After lunch we wandered around the Museum of Contemporary Art, spent a while in the gift shop, and prepared to part.
Then came the awkwardness. On an otherwise solicitation-free corner of Michigan Avenue, I paid Lisbeth $60 for our time together. “I feel weird taking money from you,” she said.
“Oh, you know,” I said awkwardly as I shoved a wad of bills in her hands. “If you ever want to hang out again, like, for real, you know where to reach me.” Yeah, this didn’t feel like an escort situation at all.
After we went our separate ways, I realized I’d been so nervous about the payment bizarreness that I gave her $20 too many. I tipped my rented friend! Kill me.
I guess she didn’t feel that weird taking money from me after all.