Sugar Daddy

When Tom Jones opened his concert in Budapest, with the U2-penned song, Sugar Daddy, I cringed. The very words – Sugar Daddy – make me want to throw up. So when I came across a piece in the Irish Independent when I was at home last weekend, I thought it time to start wondering why two simple words, each on their own rather innocuous, can conjure up such feelings of revulsion.

sugar daddyThe article featured an online site called Seeking which is billed as the No. 1 Sugar Daddy site. It classifies an arrangement as a mutually beneficial relationship/arrangement between two people. In other words, both parties give as much as they take. According to the site, most ‘regular’ relationships are not mutually beneficial in nature (here I stop, and think, and do a quick evaluation, and breathe a sigh of relief – I think I’m okay on this score). Many of us are, apparently, in a relationship where we ‘feel used, or taken advantage of’ and give more than we receive (again, I stop, and give thanks that this isn’t me).

The founder of the site, Brandon Wade, believes that ‘successful relationships are formed out of two people being brutally honest with each other – about who they are, what they want and what they can offer’ [mmmm…interesting juxtaposition of ‘brutal’ and ‘honesty’].

So no matter what you are seeking whether it is love, companionship, friendship or some financial help, and whether it will be for a short-term, long-term or life-long arrangement, he hopes users will find the perfect match on his site. 

sugar-daddyNow all this looks like a good marketing ploy and in the finicky field of Internet Dating, not a bad prospect at all, particularly if you happen to favour the more mature man (or woman).  What caught my eye was the growing number of Irish university students using the site as a way to get through college. According to the Indo, some 4,464 female undergraduates in Ireland have joined the site. Four of the ten universities with students subscribed to the site are in Dublin: UCD tops the list, with 399 members, followed by Trinity College Dublin at 395.

The thoughts of young attractive girls (and boys) in their late teens, early twenties actively searching for mature people as a means of supporting their studies is, on the face of it, admittedly a solution that is a little more appealing than saddling themselves with debt, particularly as the hope of getting a decent-paying job on graduation is a hope that is shrinking by the second. And yet, a survey by the site itself shows that 80% of these ‘arrangements’ involve sex.

Why am I not surprised.

I’ve had many conversations here in Hungary about the merits of marrying for love vs the need to marry for money and admittedly my illusions of a sisterhood united in favour of love over money have taken a battering. It would seem that I’m living in the movies and need to get a grip on reality. And yes, I’m fortunate that my reality (while occasionally giving me cause to worry about pensions and providing for my old age) is such that marrying for love is still a viable option with thoughts of securing tomorrow overridden by concern for making the most of today.

On due reflection, it’s not the concept per se that breaks me out in a cold sweat, it’s the terminology. Mention Sugar Daddy, and I think of fat, foolish and perhaps even flaithiúileach (generous) men who have long since passed their best-before date. And I think of them accessorizing with women young enough to be their granddaughters. A sort of Beauty and the Beast, without the romance or the emotion. But hey, that’s my stereotyping at work. I’m sure there is many a 22-year-old who dotes on her octogenarian boyfriend  – I just wish I had faith enough in human nature to believe it to be true.

And, on second thoughts, who am I to judge. Each to their own. And if these mutually beneficial arrangements are really mutually beneficial and no one is under any illusion as to what they represent, then have at it, Brandon.

And not a pair of knickers in sight

IMG_4149I’m not quite sure what happened this evening. I can’t decide if I’ve had a great night or simply one that will take a while to recover from. I think I’m in shock.

The last time I saw Sir Tom in the flesh, as it were, he was strutting his stuff on stage in the RDS in Ireland back in the early 1980s.  Girls my age were losing track of their grannies as the old dears rushed the stage to cast their knickers at the King. His trousers were painted on him. And when his oversized rhinestone beltbuckle caught the light, you could have seen it glitter from Mars. Women older than my mother seemed to have lost their reason. I distinctly remember a group of women from the Irish Countrywomen’s Association flinging a pair of enormous bloomers onto the stage embroidered with ‘We love you, Tom’. I was fascinated. The music was great; the entertainment value was excellent; and when I got over the bout of prudishness brought on by the gyrations, I kinda fell for him… in an I’ll-keep-my-eyes-shut-and-you-just-sing-to- me  kind of way.

De Wimmen bought me tickets for tonight’s gig in Budapest .(Yes, I know the photo says Prague but had I seen this photo before mentioning that I wanted to go, I wouldn’t have gone. The Budapest PR posters were a lot kinder. To say that he’s had a nip and a tuck here and there goes no where near the truth. It is scary. Really scary. Really, really scary to see what a 69-year-old man can look like, if he has money.) Anyway, we all headed off to Papp László (KG and her lovely new boots and me) and were in our seats just before 8pm for the warm-up act: Felicity Rawlings. Great voice. Nice girl But no Delilah. And I was there for Delilah.

Sir Tom took his own sweet time coming on stage. And I was getting a tad fed up. It was 9.10pm before the band arrived and then another five minutes of strobe lights and SFX before the man himself appeared singing Sugar Daddy, a song penned for him by Bono and The Edge. It was downhill from there. Six modern, poppy songs later (all from his new album 24 Hours) we finally get Delilah. And this is where my confusion started.

I’d been slowly seething, like an auld wan, about not getting what I’d paid for (even though technically I hadn’t paid for anything). I’d expected a trip down memory lane, to drop in and see if the old home town looked the same and to learn all about never falling in love again, maybe even see what was new with pussycat. Instead, I was watching some ould lad in leather strutting his stuff on stage as if he was 29, not 69, and Mick Jagger he ain’t.  Tom’s wiggle was a very poor imitation of a bad waggle. Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for doing as much as you can for as long as you can but honestly… this was embarrassing. The man has a fantastic voice –  still as good as it ever was (the eyes-shut trick still works). He was certainly on form and when, an hour later, I finally got a sniff of the green, green grass of home, I started to relax a bit. It seemed as if the modern stuff was over and he was back to the fellah I met all those years ago.

But as we flipped back and forth between old and new and detoured through the southern United States (I had to open my eyes at this stage to make sure it was still him on stage), I lost myself in an internal debate about concerts. Ticketgoers pay to see a performance and have expectations. Performers are in it for the money and to promote their new stuff. You’d imagine that it was all about satisfying the punters’ needs. So why then, when the crowd was on its feet, in rapturous applause for an oldie, why didn’t he stick with the tried and true instead of all this flash?

I’ve been to four really great concerts in my time: BB King many many years ago in Dublin; Kris Kristoffersen in Dublin a few years back; and both Leonard Concerts, this year (Budapest) and last (Amsterdam). All were low-key with minimal, if any, SFX or lighting effects. Tonight was electric…literally. Louder than loud.  Why? Why? Why? …. Delilah. 

The Knighthood didn’t make the crassness disappear and the women love him all the more. The crowd was on fire. They wanted more and more and more (oops, that’s Joe Dolan, isn’t it? I’m getting my shapers mixed up!) But I really didn’t know what to make of it all. Yes, of course, plug the new album (and respect to the man for still putting it out there), but a little more of the good stuff would have been nice. Actually, in fairness, the title track 24 Hours has a hint of Johnny Cash about it… and had I heard it at home, I might have been rightly impressed. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just too old for anything but the unplugged version. Bitching aside though, he did actually play all his big hits… it’s just that he didn’t have that many!