A few weeks ago, I was at a party when a friend of a friend introduced me to this guy named Ben. He got my number and asked me out for drinks, and we had a pretty good time. I wanted to go on a second date to see if this could lead to a possible relationship, so I asked him out to dinner at a restaurant downtown. We were supposed to meet at 7:15, but he was 20 minutes late. When he finally did arrive, he apologized profusely.
“Hey, I’m so sorry I’m late. I had to take a cab, I didn’t realize how far away this place was.” Ben unzipped his Patagonia vest and fanned himself with his menu. Aside from him being 20 minutes late, I was also judging him on his choice of day-to-night wear, especially given the fact that it was summer.
“It’s not a problem! Where were you coming from?” I asked, scanning his armpits to see if he was soaking through his shirt. He wasn’t. He also smelled good, despite the sweat beading around his forehead. I was impressed. He was already less gross than the last four guys I went out with.
He opened the menu. “I work on Wall Street. Busy day today. Lots of clients. What do you do, again?”
I tucked my hair behind my ear. “I have an Etsy shop for political t-shirts and I’m also a catalog model for L.L. Bean. The pay isn’t great, but it’s something to cover the rent. Millennials, right?”
I let out an embarrassed laugh. He looked at me with genuine interest. He didn’t feel sorry for me like a lot of the other guys I meet. I liked that.
He took a sip of water from his glass and leaned back in his chair. “You know, I used to model.”
“Really?” He was good-looking, so I wasn’t surprised. Tall, broad shoulders, strong jawline. He couldn’t be more than 28.
“Yeah, when I was 16, I was at SeaWorld with my family, and this guy asked me if I was a model. I told him, ‘No, I’m just in high school,’ and he gave me this handwritten business card with an address penciled in and told me to meet him there the next day with $500 cash.”
“Oh no, he scammed you!”
Ben laughed. “I guess so. That was a long time ago. Thankfully I’ve learned my lesson since then.”
I glanced down at my menu. It was a bit pricier than I would normally prefer, but since Ben was buying, I was all for it. “So what did you get up to today, then?”
“Actually, an old buddy of mine from college, Billy McFarland, wants me to go in with him on a startup.”
“That’s pretty cool! What’s the startup?”
“Well I’m not totally clear on the details just yet. I’m gonna help him find some money though.”
“OK, well that’s exciting!”
“Yeah, especially because this is his first big project since coming out of jail for fraud. I’m really looking forward to working together! He’s a great guy.”
Before I got the chance to respond, the server got to our table. “Hi guys! My name is Jane, and I’ll be taking care of you today.” I was starving by this point. “Have you guys dined with us before? We do things a little differently around here.”
Ben ordered a lamb kebab and I asked for the tuna niçoise. Jane took our menus and said, “I’ll be right back with some bread for you.”
“So a startup, huh?” I continued.
“Yeah. Well, I have that and another thing coming up too. I’m about to get cut into this awesome deal.”
“Really?” I took a sip of water.
“Yeah, I’m getting into the diamond business in Nigeria.”
“That sounds pretty lucrative. How did you get into that?”
“A few weeks ago I got an email from Dr. Alpha Tunde Goodluck in Lagos. His brother found these like, 100-year-old lost diamonds worth millions in a cave somewhere over there, and they need a small investment to get started on excavation, so I said I’d provide some financial contributions.”
“What kind of medicine does Dr. Goodluck practice?”
“You know, he never said. I haven’t actually heard from him since I sent him some Bitcoins a few weeks ago.”
Jane came back with the promised basket of bread. As Ben put a piece into his mouth, I noticed he was wearing a watch.
“Nice watch,” I said.
“Oh, thanks! It’s a Rolex. Bought it with my first paycheck from banking.”
“Wow. Must have been a nice paycheck.”
He stopped chewing for a moment and moved his wrist closer to me so I could get a better look. I took his hand into mine to examine it further.
“Where did you get this from, a boutique or something?”
“No, actually, this woman on the street came up to me in Chinatown and asked me to follow her. She made me promise not to tell anyone, so unfortunately that’s all I can tell you!”
I took one last look and let go of his hand, only to see that the “X” on his Rolex was actually a “K”.
“You said you’re a banker?”
“Yep,” he covered his mouth while he finished chewing. “I’m a sample volunteer at Lower Manhattan Sperm Bank.”