Steffanie Rivers

*I met him at the gym as he sat waist deep in the Jacuzzi. I had just exited the steam room and almost walked past him still trying to clear my vision when he spoke to me. We exchanged a quick hello, then without even a pause he asked me out on a date.

I turned him down primarily because I was in a relationship. But even if I wasn’t I don’t accept invitations from total strangers. I make it a policy to have at least the basic information about a person – his full name, place of work and phone number – so if I go missing the police will have some information about the last person to see me alive.

The fact that he had seen my hair in its perm-less naturally curly afro state and didn’t seem alarmed was impressive I must admit. But I didn’t give him a second thought until we met a second time by chance.

It was at the brushless car wash. I had walked into the lobby to watch my car go by on the conveyor belt when I saw him. He asked me something about the gym.

“Are you working out today?”
“No,” I replied with a hint of puzzlement. “How do you know I work out?”
“I’ve seen you there before,” he replied.

It took me a few minutes of mental prodding for me to remember our first brief encounter. Then we talked for the few minutes that it took for our cars to go through the wash.

He said he was a police officer and a former NCAA basketball standout. That and the fact that we had met once before made me comfortable enough to exchange phone numbers with him. If for no other reason I thought it a good idea to have a police officer in my electronic rolodex. You never know when you might need one.

For the next few weeks all we did was text each other. I thought the texting would progress into an actual telephone conversation, but it didn’t. Instead one day he asked me to send him a sexy picture.

Besides the fact that I don’t have a library of “sexy pictures” stored in my phone waiting to send upon request, I thought the request was outside of the context of our non-existent relationship. And I told him so.

From his first text I noticed that he never used my name only generic greetings. He always called me “dear,” “sweetie” or “gorgeous” so as not to confuse me with other potentially gorgeous women he might text. And when I asked him to meet me at the gym so we could work out together, seeing as he claimed to be into that kind of thing, he never seemed to be available.

So when I got the text from him recently saying “Hello sweetie. Im going 2 ask u 4 a huge favor. My folks put me in a bind. Can you loan me 300 dear. Don’t hurt me. Lol i’m embarrassed to ask already,” I couldn’t believe my eyes!

I re-read the message to make sure it said what I thought it said. I was so taken aback I called my mother to tell her: A guy that I had met only twice and spent less than ten minutes in a face-to-face conversation with had just asked me to borrow $300.

“He must be joking,” was her response.

If it was a joke, it was on him. We laughed about it. Then I texted him back telling him his request had been denied.

Even in the most dire situations I never would ask a person I’d met only twice to borrow $30 let alone $300. And who in their right mind would find it appropriate to do so?

Were our chance meetings the beginning of a setup? Our meaningless banter and his unwillingness to use my given name were signs that something was amiss, but I never imagined where it would end up. He’s a police officer for goodness sake. At least that’s what he told me. Maybe that too was part of his cover. Had I just met someone fishing for prey and he cast his line to see who he could snag?

Since that fateful day I’ve received only one text from him; something about the weather. I guess he realized that he overplayed his hand and it was better for him to cut bait and cast in another pond. This big fish was not biting.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at [email protected]. And see the video version of her journal at www.youtube.com/steffanierivers.