I’m considering entering the professional companion business. Part time, of course.
No, not a hooker (though I wish I had the bad-boy bod!). Not an escort. Or an actor. And while I’ve been a minister/Chaplain for 30 years and have some clinical pastoral education, I’m not a licensed professional counselor or therapist.
But I am a good friend, listener, and sounding board.
Sound crazy? It’s certainly different. Did you know, countries like Japan have had rent-a-friend companies for years? Really. Check it out. Chris Colin published a piece about it in The Week, and spent about $115 for two hours with one friend.
And with a Boston Globe article I read today indicating that loneliness is more deadly than smoking or obesity, maybe there’s a niche.
To help people. Anyone.
- Folks who are recently single again who just want someone to sit with them
- Socially awkward guys who need some pointers
- Gals lacking confidence who need a boost
- Business travelers who want to enjoy the sites – just not with workmates
- You name it
We’re talking here about people – real, God-valued people – who just want to fulfill the divine need for flesh-and-blood companionship without the strings and drama.
And I love everybody – from Clinton to Trump. So you know I’ve got to be good!
But there’s one need I like the most. I think it’s the most important. So let me flesh it out for you. It’s rooted in the dysfunctional-but-blindly-accepted norms of American culture.
Think about it. We spend more time teaching kids how to drive than how to find and sustain healthy relationships. And when it’s time to go on a date, what is the cultural catechism? “Put your best foot forward! Shower. Shave. Put on a clean shirt or dress. Some classy cologne or perfume. Be on your best behavior.” Et cetera. Ad nauseum. What are we teaching them to do?
Fake it. Hide your flaws. Be inauthentic.
Sure, the reasons may be noble. Good parents want to protect their kids. They know from the unabashed judgmental-ism exists in our culture. And it rears its ugly head in emotional, psychological, and physical cruelty, ridicule, humiliation, and all the dodge-balls of fear that get thrown at “the other” by the dark side of human nature.
The problem: people can be shitheads, so we teach our progeny to act, to be fake, as a protective mechanism.
Enter the need for people like me. Someone folks can be themselves with and still be liked. Loved. Respected. And enjoyed.
Who wouldn’t want to spend quality time with someone like that?
Someone with whom they could discuss their struggles. Share their unpublished poems. Talk about their grandfathers. Reminisce on life. When all their acquaintances are too busy, with the lie they’ve named life, to listen. Someone who would spend time…. Who would care.
If I can help people in this way, shouldn’t I?
“Kevin Gilbert (Kev), PhD. 55 year-old professional friend / companion with 30 years experience. Someone you can be real with without fear. I listen well, will enjoy you just as you are, and do my very best to bring joy to your life. It can be watching TV; going to a baseball game; listening to your feelings, struggles, or even your life story; enjoying dinner and conversation; being a sounding board for your thoughts; helping you find solutions to problems. “No judgment. Just friendship. (TM)” Testimonials available on request. Two rules: no romance and no lending money. $40.34 per hour plus standard mileage ($0.535). Accept Major Credit Cards, PayPal, Cash. Phone or text 555-555-5555, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
What do you think – Rent me?
Let me hear your thoughts.