LAYERS OF CLAY
A man in khakis and a yellow polo swayed in the doorway. “How’d the presentation go?”
I was shuffling papers into my bag after a four hour night class. “Excuse me?”
“The presentation,” he quiet burped. “That’s what went on here isn’t it?”
I stood from my spot at the computer and met him in the center of the room. The smell of booze and optimism reached me before his hand which I shook.
“I’m just finishing up a college class I teach.”
He nodded as if this made perfect sense to him. He nodded as if everything made perfect sense to him. Everything except for standing still anyway. “Well I’d like to talk to you, but I’m a little drunk right now. You got a phone?”
“Um, what do you do?”
“I own a company. Energy. You must be pretty good at this, so I’m gonna give you a number to call.”
He was really staggering now. I took out my phone and entered his name and number, not expecting to actually call. I told him he had a good Irish name.
He said “true story” after everything. Then he gassed me with a laugh and threw weak backhand jabs at my stomach. Drunken boxing barfly style.
“Go ahead and call the number right now,” he said. “That way I’ll have your number and call you tomorrow. My phone’s at the bar.”
I was 97% amused and 3% creeped out and ready to block a real punch, but he clearly had no weapons or balance. Part of me wondered where the secret camera might be.
I finally said, “What do you think I do exactly?”
He swung his head towards the blank screen and back to me with movements reminiscent of the title character in Weekend At Bernie’s. “You must be pretty good.”
His judgment was clearly sound since I was standing alone in a hotel conference room with a projector screen successfully illuminated.
“True story. Call me tomorrow and you’ll find out.”
He shook my hand and wobbled away.
I punched his cell number up in Google and found an expired Craigslist ad looking for sales people of some kind. I never called or heard from him again.
In life I suppose there are magical encounters of fate, even divine meetings that seemed to have been set up by God himself. Opportunities of a lifetime. Then again, sometimes the next person to walk into your life is just drunk and confused and should be ignored.
I guess the point is that not everyone who approaches you with flattery and promises can be trusted. Sometimes people are just putting out empty words like smoke rings. We take a risk by not scrutinizing exciting guarantees. Most charlatans aren’t as transparent as my drunk visitor. True story.