The Non-Fix-Up—Clark Humphrey
It took a lot of looking, but eventually he was found. Exactly the way he’d been described.
Just a little shorter than the average of the males here. Designer eyewear but a discount-store suit, a little too tall and a little too small. Cropped dark hair that looked like it desperately wanted to escape its pomade restraints. The slightest hint of a beer gut. The only man looking anything like him here at the main DB station in Bremen.
The only detail Lily’s best friend had not mentioned was the color of his shirt, a sickly institutional off-yellow. She knew she would have to assert control of his wardrobe if this thing was going to work out.
She also knew precisely what she was to do. Her best friend Cynthia, who had discovered this 32-ish man at a film screening, had given her detailed instructions.
Lily was to feign a lot of ignorance. She would tell him he needed much more from him than he was originally supposed to do. She needed an English speaking person who could lead her around the city, who could get her to her hotel and to the obscure little arts center where she supposedly had a residency. Who could show her the best little shops and nightclubs that didn’t blurt out loud repetitive techno all night (something she knew he hated). She would go where he liked to go.
She would discuss his favorite books and music and films, and turn him on to hers.
She would tell him how much America needed the influence of Europeans to help adjust into a more urban, more sophisticated future. Europeans such as him.
She would lure him out of his introverted shell, a centimeter at a time.
She would lead him into her arms, her bed, her heart, and eventually her life.
All this was possible because of Cynthia’s groundwork. She had test-dated him, and yes, “test driven” him.
Cynthia’s conclusion: He was not, and would never be, “intense” enough for her tastes. But in his quiet charm and his low-key playfulness and his solid soul, he’d be perfect for Lily.
Cynthia had made many things happen to make this moment happen.
Cynthia had gotten Rolf involved in the little contemporary arts collective, as a part time administrative assistant; even though he had no experience, and had previously expressed little interest, in the visual arts.
Cynthia had arranged for Lily’s small, quiet, sensual mixed-media works to be displayed there, in her first exhibition outside the U.S.
Cynthia had emailed what Lily should and should not say and do.
Do let him ramble on about why Germany knows what to do about the world economy and America doesn’t.
Don’t interrupt him, even when he’s struggling to find the right English word to say.
Do make the first move sexually.
Don’t lie about liking any film/book/music/food you really hate.
Most of all, Lily must never let on that Rolf is being fixed up with her.
Because the one thing Rolf had always told Cynthia he’d hated most of was a woman who played games, who manipulated a man for her own priorities.
No, this must be a carefully staged work. A performance art piece, if you will.
Lily looked ahead toward Rolf. She held her breath for a second, silently told herself to break a leg, walked up to him, set down her suitcase, and said hello.