I picked at my mixed nuts, eating my favorites first, and looked around the room, fascinated but trying not to appear owlish. The glass on the window slightly distorted the view of the red-tiled roofs of Lyon. Later, I found out that was because the glass was bulletproof. Our host was wearing a navy blue pinstripe suit. The pinstripes were subtle, not at all ostentatious. His necktie was deep purple. The cut of his clothing was perfect. I mean perfect, as much as a layperson like myself can discern that. Yet simultaneously, there was nothing vain about the man. For instance, he wasn’t like the Surgeon, who is a flamboyant peacock, god love him.
This happened in Lyon, France, a few years ago.
The four of us were seated in the studio-like space adjacent to his professional office. One wall had floor-to-ceiling windows and the furniture was modern and chic, but comfortable—not hard and spare, the way the modern style often is. It was like Ikea, if Ikea furniture cost a zillion dollars and was handcrafted by white Europeans. Lots of glass and white leather; not many visible electronics (but they were there, oh yes. I saw the electronic eyes, but I have always been an observant girl, and I knew how to look).
Our host offered us champagne and small individual porcelain bowls of mixed nuts. We sat on chairs and a sofa, but he sat on the edge of a desk. It elevated him slightly in height over the other people in the room. Not much—hardly enough to be noticeable—but I noticed it. Indeed, I did. His posture was good but not ramrod-straight—he gave the impression of being relaxed. I wondered if he really was, though. Relaxed.
I didn’t talk much at first—in new environments, I prefer to keep quiet and observe my company, and I was also the youngest member of the group by far. Even our host’s beautiful (secretary? office manager? I didn’t understand the French title) was at least ten years older than me. Usually I don’t pay much attention to women, but she was so glamorous —so sparkling–that I just wanted to watch her and listen to her voice. (In truth, I wanted to learn from her. She had regressed me.)
The host suddenly rose from his desk and walked over to me. He was a largish man—a six-footer, at least, and he was wearing hard leather-soled shoes on wooden floors, but he made almost no sound as he moved.
He plucked my bowl of nuts from my hand and said, “Let me refill that for you. I see you’ve eaten all the pumpkin seeds; there are plenty more in the cabinet.” His had a slight smile on his face; his voice was so warm, and amused.
I sat there, blinking. I didn’t know what to say; I was speechless. His small smile opened up and then he was beaming; happy but also self-satisfied. He had a gorgeous smile. (I also appreciated the fact that he served his guests himself, instead of asking his secretary to do it.)
“Don’t let this office distract you. I am a detective. That’s what I am. A detective.”
I had a realization then, crystal clear: men (and probably a few women) had sat on this sofa, in this office, in this chic civilized room, and been seduced by this extremely charming and affable man to spill their guts about whatever the hell he wanted them to talk about—and the entire time, they’d had no idea what was really going on behind his warm brown eyes.
(A priest, a lawyer, would do anything for that sort of talent. Later, I would find out that my host had been both.)
And in my head, I thought: I’m sold. Sold. No effort at seduction is necessary. I will gladly give you access to me whenever you like, as often as you like, whenever it is practically feasible.