It’s 10am and what feels like 150 degrees in L.A and I am sitting under a tree, smoking my e-cigarette, my head bowed, watching the movement of sparkling dappled light on the front of my black suede slip-ons, when a woman comes up to me and says-
‘Hi, I didn’t catch your name,’ and then introduces herself.
After I say hello and tell her my name, she tells me she loves my ‘look’.
‘You know, I saw you here last week and I just love your look,’
I look down the tattoos on my forearms, my lint covered black velvet shorts, the 8 dollar slip-on shoes, and wonder how I could possibly have a look anyone could like when I haven’t showered for 2 days.
I thank the woman and she says ‘My pleasure,’ and then she takes out her iPhone.
‘I’ve just got a role playing a prisoner on TV and your look is perfect for it. Can I take your photo for reference.’
I don’t know what else to say so I say sure,
After a few moments fiddling with her iPhone, and me wondering what time GAP opens, I move into the full shade, where the woman has directed me.
‘Do you want me to look mean, and like….um, ‘ I say, feeling awkwardly criminal, ‘put my hands on my hips or anything?’
‘Yes,’ says the woman, ‘that would be awesome,’
‘Do you want me to do a snarl on my face?’ I say, putting my hands on my hips and leaning menacingly to the left, ‘I can look tough if you’d like,’
‘No thanks,’ says the woman, ‘your natural expression is enough,’
Then, while I ponder just how vicious I must normally look, the woman stops taking photos and tells me how much she likes my haircut.
‘I love your haircut,’ she says, ‘it looks so good so short,’
I tell her thank you and she says that it’s her pleasure and that she’d really like a short haircut like mine.
‘I got it cut at Fantastic Sam’s,’ I tell the woman.
‘Oh, yes,’ she says, recognising the name of the chain of stores where cuts can be had cheaply.
’17 dollars,’ I tell her, ‘I went in there and pointed to a picture of a man on the wall and asked the Romanian stylist to please cut it like that, but make it shorter on the sides and not quite so mannish,’
‘Well, that stylist did a fantastic job,’ she says.
‘Well,’ I say to the woman who will soon be playing a prisoner based on my look, ‘that’s probably why it’s called Fantastic Sams.’