At first, I thought for sure that he was merely walking in my direction; it —the possibility that he would ever walk toward me— never crossed my mind that he might actually be walking toward me. Absolutely, I saw him; everyone sees him. If he’s in a room, he is to whom everyone pays attention. He saw me seeing him, and like any sane person, I immediately looked away and soon began to feel that dreaded internal temperature rise out of embarrassment. I prayed for the first time in over a decade that I would not a) turn red and b) release sweat through the pores in my face.
As he drew near, I turned my shoulder toward him in a subtle turn to look out the window. I knew he would be passed me in no time and that if I just held my breath, maybe, just maybe I’d turn invisible and be completely ignored. But the impossible happened. A mumble penetrated my squeezed-shut face. A gentle tap on the shoulder sent me flying out of my flesh and I jumped in (what I can only assume was) an unsightly jumble of emotional terror. Quickly, I spun around only to be confronted by his tall body and smiling face. “Whoa, hello. Are you alright?” he asked in that intoxicating accent shared by so few in the world. I stared blankly in his face, mouth agape, a fool. “So sorry to bother you, but you are Iya Cant, yes?” he spoke, so fluid, the words spilling with such indulgent luster to the ears. All I could muster was a slight nod.
Eventually, I came to and responded, “Yuh” … [throat-clearing cough] … “Yes, uh, yes, I am she.” Reaching out a hand, he introduced himself, “Hello, I’m Elon.” Frozen in shock, I lucked out that my body defaulted to automatic social cues; I held out my hand, and we shook hands. Attempting to establish myself as something other than a fool, I gushed not, took a cool sip from my beverage, and then spoke as confidently as I could, “Nice to meet you, Elon. How can I help you?” Being one who notoriously hates social pomp and circumstance or pomp and circumstance of any kind, he took a small step back and gave me a look that I couldn’t help but feel was a look of surprise, if only ever so mild.
He then also indulged in a sip from the glass in his hand. “Well,” he began; “I thought I’d see if I could talk to you about that piece you ran sometime last year?” Not wanting to insult him by assuming he referred to the piece I wrote about him (only a month ago, despite his referring to a much earlier piece) I asked for some clarification, “Which piece?” His eyes veered off over, passed my head, around the room, and then he shifted his weight as if uncomfortable, leaned in and nearly whispered, “The one about me and, as you put it, my options.” I chuckled at his obvious discomfort from talking about the subject, “I wrote that piece last month.” “Right, well, time, for me, moves a bit slowly.” I cocked my head at his words, “Don’t you mean quickly?” His eyes veered around the room again as he leaned in a bit to tell me, as if it were some secret and with another sip of his drink he flatly responded, “No.” “Alright then, what do you want to know?”
“Well, I suppose I am wondering and/or would like to know what you meant, exactly.”
“About my options.”
“You read the piece, I assume.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Maybe if I could hear it from you, I could make more sense of it.”
“You want me to reiterate to you what I wrote, in person?”
Another sip from his glass, with another glance around the room. He noticed a fellow billionaire businessman approaching us and returned his gaze to me, “Yes, please. If you wouldn’t mind.” Perplexed but oddly not taken aback because the unfolding situation felt so insanely normal, I played it cool, “Sure. No problem.” I had eyed the approaching billionaire as well and added, “But not here, not now?” He looked over his shoulder, “Goddammit. Sorry.” He reached into one of his breast pockets, lifted a business card from it, handed it to me and said, “If we can’t catch up again this afternoon, send your contact info to this address.”
Taking the card, I flipped it over in my fingers, “Will do.” “Great.” And then I couldn’t help myself, so I quickly grabbed his arm as he turned to walk away, “Is this how you pick up girls?” He turned back and gave me his full attention, which I hadn’t realized he hadn’t been giving me until now, smiled with that accompanying, odd mouth tick and nonchalantly stated, “You, of all people, should know that I don’t pick up girls.” I felt a sinking gut punch and attempted to shrug off my inquiry as sarcasm, “A dose of your seriousness will last a lifetime.” “You’re serious too, so let’s talk seriously soon.” And with that, the wave of people all vying for a piece of him swept him up for the rest of the afternoon, leaving me to tea sandwiches and dull conversations with people who only deign to be in such company, or worse, who dream only of it.