I sprayed Versace Bright Crystal all over a sports bra and tossed it in the back seat of my Jeep so that when he opened the door the scent would hit him like a ton of bricks. I knew ahead of time where he’d be sitting -- we were transporting a lot of old computers to a local elementary school in the city and the only free seat was on the passenger’s side, second row. Knowing I’d have a captive audience, I also tucked the latest issue of Road & Track magazine into the seatback pouch. This issue had a cover story on my favorite car, the new 755 horsepower Corvette ZR1. He would see the magazine, smell the perfume, and think of me.
I hung around the break room at work one day last week pretending to drink tea because I knew he would eventually show up to get coffee. I got a cup of Earl Grey tea, which I hate, took it over to the window, pulled out my phone and pretended to read emails. I know when he’s approaching by the sound of his footsteps. His tread is heavy and you can hear his loafers clomping. When he arrived, I hunched over my phone and began typing a fake text message. He mumbled hello, we chatted a bit, and I said a lot of stupid shit. Nothing came out the way I planned.
I wrapped my wrist in white first-aid tape and when he asked about it I told him I tweaked it while climbing rocks in Great Falls Park. I explained there were various rocks you could free-climb without much worry because if you slipped off the rock face you’d fall into the water. He said I was hardcore and I laughed and said not really, then I wondered what he would say if he knew I spent the day in Great Falls Park drinking wine, lying in the sun and watching people climb rocks.
I bought a new car with the idea that one day I would take him for a ride in it. This is not as extreme as it sounds. My Jeep is ancient and I wanted a manual transmission, something fun to drive. The car I bought is a black 2017 Honda Civic EX-T Coupe and it’s perfect for my daily commute to east Baltimore. If you’ve ever been in east Baltimore you know it’s like the Wild West in terms of traffic enforcement. I pretty much drive Formula 1 style through the streets and there are rarely any police around.
Last Friday after work I ran into him in the parking garage. He was on the phone trying to get an Uber because his car wouldn’t start and he had to get home to meet the cable guy. I said forget the Uber, I will drive you. No joke, I actually stepped up and took control. We walked to the Honda and I tried to act normal. He got in and said it smelled new. I warned him that the ride would not be smooth due to the high performance nature of the Honda and I added that these types of cars were designed to go fast. I joked that there was a barf bag in the back seat and I also said he should consider taking a Xanax. He laughed.
As we drove I explained that my aggressive shifting was inspired by Formula 1 drivers. We got on the highway and I pushed it to eighty. He asked if my wrist injury bothered me when I shifted gears and I said the pain was always there. I lifted my right arm and flexed my wrist, noting that I liked to tape it in a way that restricted movement.
When we arrived at his apartment, he mumbled something about the repair shop being booked and his car having to sit in the garage overnight. I volunteered to give him a ride to work the following morning and he accepted. This was huge. I would now have a whole evening to prepare. I’d been thinking about a new story that featured me surfing in Ocean City during a thunderstorm. In addition, I needed to keep the wrist story going, and the best way to do that was to stand in front of a mirror and practice wincing every time I rotated my hand.I drove away thinking that things could not have gone better. Tomorrow his car would get fixed and he would certainly spend some time thinking about me. I knew this instinctively. I also knew that I was getting closer to transforming myself into a one-of-a-kind, ass-kicking machine. Whether or not this transformation actually took place made no difference. The goal was to make him believe. If I could do that, I’d be in the clear.