Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saving A C-Note: A Story Of Timeshares and Falsified Homosexuality - Part 2


[Part 2 of the story I started last week]

Two days later we found ourselves at the Outrigger Reef Hotel, where we checked in and were brisked away to a complimentary breakfast, which of course we added to our "income" for coming out to this presentation. While I was in the bathroom washing one of my many accidental cuts on my hand that I sustained on the vacation (this latest one I somehow got while riding my moped, but the rest were all from what you might call sloppy swimming, and no that is not a euphemism) Etkin was filling out the necessary paperwork. Right as he was handing everything in to confirm our participation, he was asked by the man at the front desk if we were a couple. This time, he wasn't getting the vibe that we could get away with our little 'roommate' situation, so he told him with the utmost confidence that yes, in fact we were.

He met me at the breakfast buffet at told me we needed to get our ducks in a row as far as our background story. We quickly determined some basic facts: we were not, under any circumstances going to "gay it up," we felt no need to be particularly affectionate towards one another, and our made-up gay history was going to coincide as closely as possible with our real life history to lower the need to flat out lie.

Now, I rarely get any pleasure out of lying. The second I tell a lie to a person I know even a little, a ticking timebomb appears in my head that takes all of my focus, and until the bomb is defused and the lie is "resolved," I'm not entirely comfortable. It's the equivalent to me of telling a joke without ever getting to the punchline. But more than that - it becomes a fact I'll have to continue to keep in the back of my mind - the narrative between the two of us has now changed into something other than what I tell everyone else. Having said all of this, I quickly got on board with this little scheme. We were going to play a silly role, sit through some bullshit, and get paid. Lies that are like contrived sitcom scenarios are apparently ok with my conscience.

After our breakfast brainstorming session, we came back out into the lobby and were soon greeted by Angie, a tall, friendly and attractive brunette who gave us seashell leis and maintained perfect salesperson poise, posture, and eye contact at all times. She loosened up as we walked upstairs, and soon, as expected, the questions started: Where did we meet? How long have we been together? Where do we want to travel in the next few years? We told her we met at an improv class 3 years ago, and have been together since (replace "in a relationship, with "on an improv team" and it was no longer a lie). We hadn't expected the travel question, but I quickly decided that although I wanted to go to Japan at some point, David wasn't so keen on the idea. Oh, did I mentioned I was now referring to him as David, and not Etkin?

It turns out Angie came to Hawaii to be a 5-0, but she's super glad that didn't pan out because she's very happy doing what she's doing now. I mentally rolled my eyes a little as I heard this, but in hindsight I have to say a good salesperson really does get my respect. I could never in my life get someone pumped to spend money. One of my first jobs ever was selling knives for Cutco and that entire summer I made something like $100 commission - having sold a full pity knife set to my mother and a pair of gardening sheers to another friend's mother. Even to this day, I feel guilty harassing friends to spend $5 to come see my shows. Anyways, Angie was adorable in every way, and she quickly started making assumptions about the two of us. At one point video games came up and she quickly surmised that I was really into them, and David, not so much. "Oh wow, Angie...Nail: Right. On. The. Head!" I smiled as I said this, as I gently (but not effeminately!) rubbed David's back for good measure. I imagined it was something we still were able to laugh about, though perhaps down the line it'd become a bigger point of contention.

As time went on we realized it was going to be tougher and tougher to give a quick "thanks, but no thanks" and be on our way, which I'm sure is the point. She broke down our supposed yearly travel plans by its current value, then adjusted for inflation, and somehow the next thing we knew we were looking at over $500,000 in vacation expenses for the rest of our expected lives (for the record, I gave myself until my early 70's, and boy is that an interesting thought to suddenly contemplate). Timeshares, as they currently stand, naturally alleviate this in the long run, but they require a bigger commitment up front. Once you own your timeshare there's a deed that you get, are now points attached with your property. Those points can be at the location you "own" or elsewhere in the world, and since you own property in one of the most popular vacation destinations, those points carry more weight and thus a week in your timeshare in Hawaii could instead be used for 2 weeks in say, Mexico, or the Carribbean. As far as we could both tell, this was actually a pretty damn good deal. This was another great side note to the event - every time we retold the story, we'd end it by saying just that - showing that had we both been in there in the exact scenario we were claiming we were, they might have actually had us.

Angie took us on a full tour of the property, showing us all the luxury rooms we could be making sweet, sweet love in, were we actually at all sexually attracted to one another. We broke away from her briefly to talk out on a lanai, at which point Etkin exhaled deeply, and looked at his watch. We were quickly closing in on 3 hours with her, which was really hurting our dollars-per-hour justification for doing this. Or maybe he just couldn't stand the thought of looking affectionately at me any longer. Either way, he wanted out, and so did I. Soon enough we went back to the office to finally settle the matter at hand.

It broke both our hearts a little to say no to each of Angie's ever more financially accommodating offers ($15K? Hey, I have that much credit to spare!), and there was an especially awkward moment when, just as I started to say: "I'm sorry, but..." a cork popped as another salesperson had just sealed the deal. In the end, I quickly - and might I add, cleverly - ended the negotiations, telling her we weren't married and thus couldn't commit to something this big. Yes, I played that card, as well as the "we don't know if we want children" one as well, which I threw in, probably unnecessarily, for good measure. Naturally Angie kept her smile and wished us both the best.

My biggest fear was that our experience - the more than three hours of her life that she had to pitch to us - would sour her opinion on the viability of future gay couples. The very idea of it made me feel like shit, however improbable (frankly, she'd have to have already been teetering on the edge of that bias for us to tip her all the way over). Future interested gay couples deserve to be offered an incentive based presentation just as much as anyone else, and I'd march to the streets of Washington DC to protest this, should those particular rights ever be denied. Anyways, we were brisked away to fill out a survey about how we felt about the offer, about Angie, and reminded that it cost the company something like $300 to get us in there for what we were paid, plus marketing, and our breakfast, and this sad, sad meeting we're having right now. Naturally we wouldn't be allowed to get the deal ever again, which I'm sure was fine for all involved.

It was quite a morning (two mornings, technically), and my takeaway from it was I now know how utterly believable the two of us (I'd say just me, but I have yet to experiment on my own) can quickly become as a gay couple with just the tiniest changes in our behavior. I was convinced by the end that she may have questioned our income, our desire to travel, and heck, even our talent as improvisers - but if we had handed her her own survey once we were on our way out the door, with questions about each of these categories, she would have checked the box that indicated she believed were gay and in love with 100% certainty. And I'm comfortable enough in my masculinity to say I'm ok with that.

-Matt

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