On our last evening in California, two of my coworkers and I met at a rooftop lounge for dinner. It turned out to have a swanky nightclub atmosphere. The view was gorgeous, so we decided to stay for a glass of wine before going out to dinner. One of my coworkers arrived before us and was already in conversation with a man. Another man, his brother, approached us. Mr. Dubai immediately had eyes for me and rudely ignored my companions.
Mr. Dubai was dressed impeccably and had an unlit cigar in his hand the entire time he spoke with me. To be more accurate, he spoke at me, but I am letting my words get carried away as I remember the illusion of power he was attempting to create in his movements and speech as he interacted with me.
As he attempted to test the limits of my political sophistication and liberal arts education, I rose to the challenge. Not because I took him seriously, but because I was curious about him. I didn’t like him or dislike him. I knew it was unlikely I would ever speak to him again after this conversation. That’s how I see the people with whom I cross paths, especially if I don’t particularly like them. If they are different and I don’t relate to them, I want to know how their brain works. I want to know what makes them tick.
So, here I had in front of me this African-American man of Jewish descent dressed to the nines, trying to reel me in with his charm, “power,” and intellect. He made references to a wide variety of topics in an attempt to find a subject in which he was more fluent than I. He jumped from politics to war to world trade and I didn’t miss a beat. Finally, he resorted to flattery. He started complimenting me, talking about how he is attracted to intelligent women and how much he admires and respects single mothers. I have heard these lines so many times, I have a hard time believing it when people say it and actually mean it. He might as well ask me if I come here often for all the good it’s doing him.
I made a reference to the fact that we were going to be finishing our drinks and going out to dinner. That was pre-emptive strike #1. Mr. Dubai was clearly looking for any and every available opportunity to dominate me and I was not going to let him take a single one. No, I am not a shrub and no you are not going to pee on me, thank you very much.
He had a book recommendation for me and insisted that I write down the name of the book: The Twelfth Planet. More about that another time. As he continued to insincerely flatter me with lines he obviously didn’t realize I’ve heard many times before, I told him that even though he was dressed nicely and spoke well, that for all I know he is “completely and totally full of shit” (preemptive strike #2). He played it off, saying he was full of shit and providing some twist on how that was somehow a good thing and meant something different than what I intended.
Mr. Dubai asked me if I was interested in a career in politics (he is supposedly a political advisor). I said yes, possibly in a few years. He immediately told me to find my phone and call “someone.” I knew better than to ask who I was going to call. This is all part of his attempt to dominate me. I played along and dialed the number without asking any questions. He told me that when the person answered or when I got the voicemail to say, “I am sitting here with Mr. Dubai. He told me to call you. I am interested in a career in politics. Call me back if you would like. My number is …”
Allegedly, the person I called was Willy Brown, a well known and well-connected politician. I wasn’t born yesterday, though, so I had my (very serious) doubts. At this point, Mr. Dubai decided it was time to go. Interestingly, this is within a few minutes of our drink bill arriving (he and his friend had paid for their own drinks prior to our arrival). This man, who supposedly travels to Dubai several times a year can’t pick up a $30 drink tab to impress the ladies? It’s not like I was nice to him or anything, but I did watch and listen to him posture for a good 30 minutes.
The next day, Willy Brown (or a recording of his voice and number) left a message on my cell phone. I “missed” the call because I was at a conference all day. I also happen to know that you can use programs on the internet to call people’s cell phones and bypass the ringer so you only have to leave a message. So, I am not about to fall for this pretend phone tag bull sh!t. I can call “Willy Brown’s” number every day and somehow miss every single one of his return calls. I have better things to do with my time.
Even if Mr. Dubai was for real, he was a total jerk. A wealthy, well-dressed, well-educated, well-spoken dumb@ss. Later that evening I asked my coworkers the following question: Would you rather have a man spend his millionth dollar on you…or his last dollar?
Anyway, the moral of this whole story is that this was another one of those times I thought about how much I like Harley. Actually, I love Harley.