Next thing I knew, she was whisking me out of the house to her car. Her driver was waiting for us, once again. I got into the car and texted my co-leader, Jon, to let him know what I was doing. Each moment of this crazy adventure felt like a risk. I was praying through each step of it, and all I knew was that I needed to stay with my professor. As we started to drive, Mable explained that we weren’t just going to any house; we were going to a billionaire’s house—the tenth richest man in the nation. Mable’s husband was the manager of one of his five companies. No wonder they were so well off.
When we entered the neighborhood, it looked like a version of the mansions in Hollywood; yet this was even grander! We arrived at the mansion and walked over cement lily pads that were surrounded by water to get to the front door. The home was unique, with detailed architecture. The landscaping contained multiple fountains, specially imported trees and lush green grass—all of this in the middle of the desert!
After Mable rang the doorbell twice, a voice spoke through the outside intercom, asking who we were. Mable explained who she was. Then the 10-foot-high copper door opened to reveal the billionaire’s wife. Olive-skinned, dyed blonde hair and appearing to be quite anorexic, she extended her bejeweled hand, welcoming us into her home. I thanked her for letting me join my professor for the evening.
The living room in front of us held an infinity pool near the glass wall. You could go swimming in their living room. Everything—paintings, sculptures and furniture—was exquisite. Each item seemed to have been imported from all over the world.
Kissed by a Billionaire
I noticed immediately that there was no one else in the house. The dining room table was set for an intimate dinner, but where were the guests? The billionaire’s wife ushered us toward the backyard where there was an outdoor living space of plush couches, pillows and surround-sound TV. I met her husband, Mr. Billionaire, and he kissed me on both cheeks. Apparently, that is the custom in this culture. It was the one time that summer I wished I had Internet so I could put on my Facebook status, “I was just kissed twice by a billionaire!”
Mable introduced me to her husband, Shady. He again thanked me for coming home with her since she’d had such a difficult day.
I looked around and realized that there were only two other men there. As I was introduced, I quickly learned that I was meeting the CEO of a large French car company and his business partner. They were in the country for just two days, specifically to make a deal with Mr. Billionaire about bringing their cars into the country. This was a private dinner party. I was the odd woman out, making the total dinner guests seven.
My head began to swirl with questions. What in the world was I doing there? How did I end up in this situation? How am I to interact with these elite people?
I usually joke with my friends and say that I prefer not to network in my job, and that small talk is not my cup of tea. I prefer engaging in deeper conversation to really get to know a person. I like to be intentional. That caused me to ponder, Why am I in this crazy, unusual situation?
The only reason I could conjure up was that I was to be a support for my professor. All evening, through hors d’oeuvres, wine, cheese and intriguing (though slightly pointless) conversation, Mable kept coming up to me. She would hug me, say that she loved me and was so thankful I was there with her.
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