We met exactly once, introduced by a mutual friend. I did not even know who I was meeting or where we were meeting until less than an hour before. That I was told later was on purpose. His purpose.
I was warned NOT to ask about his girls in fear of making it sound like I was an opportunist. I never asked.
We were meeting for lunch. Meeting to discuss a sports drink he co created and book Mr. Williams was writing. He needed marketing help. Neither subject ever came up. Not once.
Mr. Williams had driven to Atlanta from his home in Florida in the same day. He was on time too, arriving before me. There were four of us, two women and two men. We met on a sidewalk.
The mutual friend, an attorney suggested Apple Bees for lunch. Mr. Williams dressed casually in short black tennis shorts and flip flops said no. He wanted just a sundae for lunch, nothing more. After a bit of back and forth we settled on Apple Bees. He ordered only a sundae. A very big one.
Mr. Williams kept a tightly folded single hundred dollar bill on the table with his hand cupping it the entire time we met. I knew the value because occasionally his hand moved away from it only to return again moments later. I found this odd. And that's not all.
Our table conversation was controlled completely by Mr. Williams, interrupted at times by patrons and staff of the restaurant wanting autographs. His phone rang a few times. Each time he looked around the table and asked, "Do you mind if I answer this?" He always answered it. About the 4th time it rang, in my head I heard myself saying, "Yes Mr. Williams I do mind. I really do."
Serena called. I know because he called her by name. From the one sided conversation we were hearing she was in California. From what I could surmise she had previously been injured and had not yet complied with her father's instructions to see a particular doctor. Sitting at our table he put her on a private plane and flew her back to Florida to see a doctor of his choosing. Just like that.
After much idle chatter, Mr. Williams turned to me, looked me directly in the eyes and asked, "Do you think intelligence is learned or inherited at birth?" I thought for just a moment, began to speak and then abruptly heard, "I was not asking you young lady I was asking him." Honest to God.
Thinking I was completely crazy, minutes later the same thing happened again. Throughout lunch on several more occasions, he would stare directly at me, ask me a question and before I could answer would say, "I was not talking to you, I was talking to her." For awhile I melted into my seat and sat completely still and quiet. Then I got mad. Inside I was double daring him, willing him, to try that mess with me again. He did!
This time, after he turned to me and before he could say a word, I looked him square in the eyes and said, "I realize you were not talking to me but.....". Bam! Triple slam! Game over!
At the end of lunch Mr. Richard Williams uncupped that $100 bill and paid for our lunch.
We said goodbye on the very spot where we met. I remember saying it was great to meet you. He responded, "If I want to meet you again you will know." Then he got into his convertible and drove off, back to Florida directly.
I got into my car and sobbed, then laughed, then sobbed, then screamed! What the freak was that I wondered?!!!! An hour later my phone rang. It was our mutual friend.
She said I don't know what you said or did, but Mr. Williams loved you! He was mighty impressed.
I hung up the phone and laughed again. This time til my sides hurt.
I imagine him contacting me one day and insisting I cease blogging about him. My response, "But Mr. Williams, I am not talking to you, I am talking to them."