“He’s worth millions and millions, you know.”
That’s nice. He’s almost old enough to be my father.
“He wants to fly you down to the islands on his plane next week. You would stay on the yacht, attend several parties with him. That’s all. You would, of course, have your own stateroom. Do you think you can get a couple of days off?”
He wants me to do what?
I am having dinner and drinks after work with my girlfriend. The gentleman saying this to me is the millionaire’s assistant, whom my friend and I have met once before at this very spot. He is buying a round of our drinks on behalf of the millionaire who has yet to join him, whom we also met briefly that same evening a week or so ago and later ran into elsewhere a few days ago. The millionaire’s assistant is very serious as he says these words to me about yachts and private planes, and I am positive I am not hearing him correctly.
“He likes you. He thinks you are interesting…and very pretty.”
There are moments when a tiny corner of your life hangs in an unexpected, quite sudden balance. A choice looms, even though you know the choice you will make. But you wonder how it is that such an unusual choice is so suddenly thrust before you at the end of a long, tough week, when lonely tears were the order of several evenings, when you were questioning so many of the major choices you have already made.
When the millionaire arrives, his assistant knows how to quietly stand near to him, always at the ready, but very much in the background so that the millionaire and I can talk. In the books and movies, my millionaire would be my age and incredibly handsome. In the humid night air at the outdoor section of this enormous upscale eatery, he is neither, although he is actually quite sweet, savvy, and fun to talk to, even about politics. For a half hour or so, I feel a little like I am chatting up an important somebody at a D.C. cocktail party.
A casual silence ensues, and then he says he’d like me to join him on his yacht in the islands. I pretend as though I am hearing the invitation for the first time. I talk too much and too fast about my impossible work schedule and what short notice this is and how it’s very nice of him to ask.
“You don’t have time off?” he asks after a moment, taking a long sip of his drink.
In the briefest of seconds, I see my life fast-forward before me if I say yes: I will panic about what to wear, about who else will be aboard the yacht as his guests, and about how being there makes me just another dumb girl on the arm of this millionaire. I see his unmarried son and two married daughters worried that their beloved, millionaire father has taken up with a girl closer to their own ages than his, and what does this mean about his intentions for his millions. And it will turn out that the private jet pilot and I hit it off far better than I do with the millionaire or his kids, and this will either spark a scandal or result in much confusion in the millionaire’s realm.
My millionaire seems confused by my refusal. Really, can’t I just let my manager know I need a few days off? he asks. I smile to myself, picturing my GM’s expression if I were to explain to him exactly why I need three days off in the middle of this upcoming week. I thank my millionaire for his generous invitation and gently decline it, one last time.
He clinks my glass and tells me he is sorry. He likes me, he says. Maybe another time. I watch his assistant watching him and then me as we end our conversation. He, too, seems surprised by my response.
Clearly, neither of them has met a restaurant gal who never calls out.