Updated: May 18
I was 20 years old when I had my first sugar baby experience.
What is a sugar baby?
According to Wikipedia:
Sugar dating, also called sugaring, is a relationship of an older, wealthy person and a younger person in need of financial assistance or mentoring, achieving mutual benefits...The person who receives the gifts is called a sugar baby, while their paying partner is called a sugar daddy or sugar momma.
Before you judge me, please let me explain.
When I was a junior in college, I was at a crossroads in my life.
I was disenchanted with the insipid, fraternity-dominated social life in which I never felt accepted.
While my grades were excellent, I was failing in what I believed to be the most important task of my life - finding an internship in finance - and I was stuck in the mindless drudgery that accompanies being a working college student (study, work, sleep, repeat).
All I wanted was to obtain a great internship and have some fun in college - sounds easy enough, right?
I had no idea that one unsuspecting evening would bring me closer to both goals.
It was Parents' Weekend at my university, and my Dad, stepmom and little brother were in town to visit me.
Our family dressed in formal attire to dine at the fanciest steakhouse in town on a Saturday night, and after dinner, feeling like big shots, we ushered ourselves next door to the steakhouse’s jazz club, which was adjacent to the restaurant.
The music venue was an elegant but intimate space, with seating for 40 patrons at round cocktail tables encircled by red leather chairs and loveseats facing an elevated stage in the center of the room.
As I sat down with my family, I noticed three attractive college-aged women sitting at the table next to us.
Knowing me to be intensely shy, my family jokingly nudged me to speak with them; however, I didn’t dare do so, especially with parents watching my every move. I texted my roommate saying: “Get your ass down here, I need a wingman.”
It was a very stormy night outside, and after what seemed like an eternity of thunder and lightning outside, my roommate finally arrived and joined us at our table.
Shortly thereafter, I made it clear I expected my family would vacate the premises immediately so my friend and I could attempt our best pick-up maneuver.
Knowing that I would never start a conversation with a woman out of the blue, I let my roommate make the first move.
My roomie was handsome in a Tom Cruise kind of way, and stood over 6 feet tall. He glided over to their table with confidence and smoothly sat in an empty chair next to the trio.
After a few moments of pleasantries and smiles, he waved me over to join
them. The group ordered more drinks, and we were all having a lively discussion, huddled closely together and speaking in loud voices to overcome the blaring music from the band on stage.
According to the ladies, they were from a neighboring college and were having a girl’s night on the town.
I was so engrossed in my tête-à-tête with one of my new-found friends that I failed to notice two well-dressed, regal-looking Asian men sitting at the table directly next to ours. One of the gentlemen was about ten years older than me and the other seemed to be my age.
I felt a tap on my shoulder, and the older gentleman leaned over to me and asked if he and his friend could join our impromptu squad.
I remember thinking to myself: “Really? We just did all this hard work to make the acquaintance of the most beautiful women in the place, and now you two just wanna crash our party?”
Ultimately I tamed these anti-social thoughts, and I invited the dapper duo to join us - a life-changing decision on my part.
So there we were: a party of seven handsomely-attired strangers all getting acquainted with one another.
The older gentleman, a Mr. Park (I have changed his name to protect his identity), ordered two bottles of the most expensive champagne in the establishment, and explained that he was doing his Masters degree at my university, and that his friend was also studying as an undergrad.
Over the course of the next hour, we also learned he was the scion of one of the wealthiest families in Korea; we are talking billions of dollars of net worth.
Seriously, BILLIONS. His family runs a blue chip Korean company whose name you know.
Closing time was rapidly approaching, and Mr. Park decided that we were all having too much fun for the evening to end. He called the manager over and asked how much money it would require to keep the party going.
In Texas there are rules governing the service of alcohol in a public place after a certain hour (2am), but Mr. Park did not want to play by the average person's rules.
The manager came over and explained that the only way the jazz club could legally remain open would be for Mr. Park to rent out the entire venue until dawn, thus making it a private party.
Without hesitation, Mr. Park pulled an $1,000 Italian leather billfold out of his $5,000 Italian pinstripe suit and said, "How much?"
A $10,000 check and 10 minutes later, every other patron was escorted out of the club and the band kicked back into song for our now legal after-hours party.
We had the place all to ourselves, and soon the women were onstage dancing to the music, and cigars were brought round to accompany the free-flowing fancy champagne. I happened to have my camera with me, and I have the photographic evidence to forever document the joyous debauchery.
Here is a selection of photos from my time with Mr. Park, including from that very first evening:
When the staff at the jazz club had finally had enough of us, Mr. Park decided to escort the group to the Four Seasons Hotel, where Mr. Park kept a permanent room.
Knowing that our party would be entirely too raucous for his regular hotel room, Mr. Park gave thousands of dollars to the incredulous night clerk for the Presidential Suite, which was unoccupied that evening.
As the doors opened to The Presidential Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel, I gasped in disbelief.
I had never seen a hotel room like it.
As you entered, you stepped into a large, opulent living room with a grand piano and a dining room which seated up to ten foreign dignitaries - or in this case - drunken college kids.
The suite's outdoor balcony spanned the entire length of the property and looked out onto the lake downtown. On each side of the living area were two bedrooms, both with an ensuite bathroom.
As we were all still exploring, Mr. Park was busy barking orders on the phone to room service, who were trying to explain that no food or beverage was available at 4.45am.
Apparently, Mr. Park's clout and money also solved this problem, as shortly thereafter a tuxedoed waiter came into the room pushing a silver trolley with late night appetizers and more booze.
I don’t know what time we all went to sleep that morning, but the sun was up and early morning joggers were already out on the trail by the lake. Had they looked upwards to the balcony above, they might have wondered about the strange circumstances of the soiree in the sky.
The following Friday, my roommate and I flew in Mr. Park’s private plane to the small airport near the ladies’ college to transport them back to my city.
As the door to the plane shut, the five of us looked at each other with sheepish smiles. I looked out the window and watched us take off out of the Texas dust bowl town and wondered what this weekend would bring.
The plane pulled into the private air terminal back in Austin, and Mr. Park was waiting in a maroon Porsche Boxster convertible. Apparently the local Porsche dealership had begged him to test drive the car over the weekend in the hopes he would buy it (rich people are given more free perks than you can ever imagine, which seems horrifically inequitable, but that’s privilege, and there you have it).
Our first stop was the mall.
Mr. Park took the sorority girls shopping at Neiman Marcus, where he bought one a brand new gold Rolex watch and the other a diamond bracelet, the combination of which set him back at least $20,000.
I received a $5,000 custom suit of the finest Italian tailoring and a $400 Dupont pure silver lighter to match the one Mr. Park always used. He even taught me its signature "flick" to open.
Later that night, the ladies and I were alone as they showed off their new gifts.
After seeing such luxurious items, one question kept burning in my mind - were these women expected to have sex with Mr. Park, and was I expected to provide something in return?
As if they read my thoughts, one of the ladies exclaimed that Mr. Park never broached the topic of romantic intimacy; it was their opinion that Mr. Park was rich, bored and simply wanted to be around cool people in a strange, new town.
I spent the next few weeks trying to determine the motivations of Mr. Park's largesse.
Was it simple generosity or were there strings attached?
In the meantime, I decided to indulge myself and finally enjoy the fun I felt I deserved. Most days I spent at the Four Seasons on Mr. Park’s dime. I would study outside by the pool overlooking the lake and have coffee delivered to me on a silver tray.
In the evenings, I would accompany Mr. Park to the fanciest restaurants in town, and he taught me about “first growth” French wines, which are the finest Bordeaux wines and the most sought-after vintages in the world.
These wines had names like Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild and Latour, and cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a bottle.
As we sipped Dom Perignon and Crystal and smoked Cuban cigars, Mr. Park would instruct me on the finer points of living like a billionaire.
Over the course of the semester, I ended up developing a great amount of respect for Mr. Park.
Mr. Park provided me an unparalleled education in luxury and never asked anything from me in exchange except for friendship. In addition, I believe he was authentically generous with everyone with whom he came into contact, and we had quite the entourage.
Tangentially, his tutelage helped provide me enough polish and poise to obtain a prestigious investment banking internship on Wall Street, a story you can find here.
Not only had I achieved my dual objectives for the semester - have more fun and launch my career in finance - but also our companionship was a turning point in my life. His friendship was the catalyst for me to feel more confident about the prospects for my future.
However, all good things do come to an end.
As the end of the school year approached, Mr. Park invited me over to his plush downtown condo and sheepishly told me that his family had noticed his profligate spending (which I estimate in the excess of $200,000) and that they were recalling him back to Korea. He wished me well, and I did the same.
A few days later, Mr. Park was gone.
Sadly, I never heard from him again.
I think it must have been hard for Mr. Park to feel accepted as a wealthy Asian man in the late ‘90s in my small Southern town. There wasn’t much diversity at that time, and Mr. Park must have recognized the need for an entrée into the social scene, which my roommate and I provided.
Was his money well spent and were his objectives achieved? Only he could answer that question.
All I know is that it was the most unbelievable semester at college, and I will never be able to repay his kindness.
I hope you have enjoyed this exclusive excerpt from my forthcoming book. To read more of these passages, click here.
Disclaimer: The above original fiction story is based on actual events; however, all names have been changed and some scenes have been fictionalized more than others.