Thomas Wictor

Do you have a price?

Do you have a price?

In the last year of my mother’s life, we talked a lot about the state of the world. Mom was born in 1928. Can you conceive the changes she saw in her eighty-five years? She asked me over and over why people did the things they did, and I told her that it was because most people can be bought. She said she initially didn’t accept that, but she was forced to conclude that it was true. It’s an interesting question: Do you have a price?

The reason I ask is the awful tale of Forrest Timothy Hayes.

SANTA CRUZ — A high-end prostitute injected lethal doses of heroin into a former Google executive before callously stepping over his body, downing a final swig of wine and then leaving him to die about[sic] his yacht, officials said.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported Tuesday that surveillance video from the boat shows 51-year-old Forrest Timothy Hayes losing consciousness.

Investigators say the suspect, Alix Catherine Tichelman, makes no effort to help Hayes and instead gathers her belongings and even gulps a glass of wine before leaving.

Hayes was an executive with Google X, the tech giant’s experimental lab, according to USA Today and Forbes. Google X focused on the company’s “moonshot” projects such as Google Glass and driverless cars.

Hayes was a divorced father-of-five and his body was discovered on his 50-foot yacht, Escape, the next day on Nov. 23 at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor.

“The video also shows Tichelman stepping over the victim’s body several times as she is gathering her belongings,” according to a police statement.

“At one point, she steps over the body to finish a glass of wine. Finally, she leaves the boat and reaches back in to lower a blind and conceal the victim’s body from outside view.”

There’s no need to say anything about Hayes, who was my age. Instead, let’s look at the “high-end” prostitute Alix Tichelman.

That’s a high-end prostitute? She looks like a crack whore.

I’ve read that she commanded $1000 a night, if you can believe it. She’s allegedly twenty-six years old.

“It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage,” to quote Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Doesn’t do a thing for me.

Those who have a price are desperately unhappy. They yearn, but generally speaking they lack imagination, which is why their price is so low. I know and have known many people who sold their souls. It was always for the equivalent of the mythical $24 worth of beads with which the Dutch bought the Island of Manhattan from the Canarsee.

When people get older and more unhappy, their perceptions change. Look at Donald Sterling.

A billionaire, yet the whore he chose looks like a man in drag. The sound of her voice is absolutely intolerable, and she’s so vacuous that being around her would make me want to decapitate myself.

When I was a music journalist in L.A., I went to more parties and concerts than I can count. I saw thousands of old men with hard-eyed, young gold diggers. At first all I could think of was, “How do the men perform in the boudoir when they know that the woman is with him only because of his money?”

Later I realized that this precise dynamic was what the man sought. He had the power to buy such “beautiful” women, and that turned him into a raging stallion. The thing was, I never once came across a single piece of arm candy that made me think, I wish I were that old guy!

Lets be honest: After a certain number of…encounters, they’re all the same, physically. There isn’t much variation in equipment among women. I mean, going from woman to woman, it’s not like one has a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, another has an ocean liner, another has the Large Hadron Collider, and another has the Empire State Building.

Gradually I understood something else about those who have a price: There has to be an element of sordidness to it. There has to be sneaking around, lying, and some form of degradation. Somebody has to demean to someone else. The person who sold their soul is getting off on fooling those close to him, or he does something unsavory to the whore, or the whore does something unsavory to him. Or all of the above.

The point is, it’s never healthy. It’s not supposed to be.

I assured Mom that I don’t have a price. She found that comforting. On some level she worried that we’d just dump her in a nursing home. Her death was hard because my presence made her uncooperative, but my absence made her afraid. I don’t hold any of that against her, even though she put us through hell. She didn’t mean to.

When I think of Mom, I picture her like this.

There’s no longer any sadness. She’s made her presence felt here many times, and I know she’s happy, clear headed, and strong. Boy, is she strong. She’s become the person she was intended to be.

The ending of the movie Fargo is quite brilliant. Watch Frances McDormand’s face closely. She nearly bursts into tears after she says, “For a little bit of money.” It’s very subtle.

Frances McDormand is the only reason I like that film. She reminds me of my mother.

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