HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
How would the object of so many female-gazes game this out?
By the end of this essay, you too will be a master in the art of romance.
You might not ever get rich
But let me tell ya it’s better than diggin’ a ditch
There ain’t no tellin’ who you might meet
A movie star or maybe even an Indian chief
At the car wash
Workin’ at the car wash, girl
Come on and sing it with me
Sing it with the feelin’ y’all
(Car wash, yeah)
Source: LyricFind, Songwriters: Norman Jesse Whitfield,
Performed by Rose Royce
When I lived in West Hollywood I had a friend, Suhad, who would come to visit from Beirut whenever we had some work to do. Even with a 24-hour day of travel, the first thing she loved to do after I’d pick her up at LAX was go to the car wash.
Oh, somebody needs to be vacuumed.
She was talking to the Rogue (not me the rogue, the Nissan Rogue).
[NOTE: WHEN PUTTING THIS STORY TOGETHER I HAD NO IDEA FABIO HAD A BOOK CALLED ROGUE. THE UNIVERSE IS A SIMULATION!]
We headed over to the Santa Palm Car Wash on Santa Monica Blvd in Weho.
We watched as my Rogue endured the giant soft-touch brushes, the hot and cold water, the squirts of hot wax and the final blow.
This guy had come in just before us, watching his Lexus SUV go through the same obstacle course. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. Long blondish hair, tan, tight shirt with one more button undone than the norm, tight jeans.
Then it dawned: Oh wow, I whispered to Suhad.
What’s a Fabio? she asked.
After this phase of the wash, we sat in an area for customers as they wait for the crew to dry and detail the vehicles.
Another half dozen customers were already gathered. Fabio was sitting adjacent, angled toward us.
How’s your day so far? Fabio asked Suhad.
You guys from here?
Suhad is a beauty and of course he was hitting on her, but he was politely including me in the conversation.
He’s from here. I’m from Lebanon. I just landed actually.
[Eh, is Yes in Lebanese.]
You guys came straight here? You didn’t even unpack? Your car must have been a mess my man!
She’s anal about keeping things clean.
I’m not anal, she said.
I hear Beirut is stunning. It’s on my bucket list.
Let me know if you go.
Let me give you my number, he said.
I realized I was watching a master at work.
How would the object of so many female-gazes game this out?
She typed his number into her phone as he said it aloud.
Other people sitting around waiting for their cars were listening. I think a lady wrote his number down, too. People were chill, but watching Fabio make his moves was attracting attention.
Text me he said. Let’s make sure your phone works over here in California.
I’ll Whatsapp you.
And she did. And he got her text, which was a simple Hi, it’s Suhad with a sunglasses emoji 😎.
The guys drying the cars were finished with Fabio’s but they saw he was busy chatting up a dark-haired beauty and just pulled his SUV off to the side. I got the vibe he’s cleaned up here before.
He’s pretty famous, I said.
I used to be.
What are you up to these days?
A little of this, little of that. Managing royalties. Shifted into real estate. Launching a hair care line.
Brilliant. I mean, right?
As my looks depreciate, the real estate appreciates.
He’s been on the covers of like a million romance novels, I told Suhad. I searched on my phone and showed her the results.
Oh, wow! she said.
Before filters he said. Just kidding, they airbrushed the heck out of me.
He flung his hair.
By the way, your hair is amazing, he said (to Suhad in case you were wondering).
Are all the girls in Lebanon this beautiful? he asked me.
I kept a poker face. If I said yes, I’d hear about it later from Suhad, if I said no… well, actually, I could have said no. Truth be told, most Lebanese women did win the Holy Smokes lottery.
This is going to sound like line, but I promise it’s true. When I was a teen, thirteen, fourteen, I had this t-shirt I bought in Venice Beach. It was this picture of a woman in a bikini coming out of the surf. I swear on my life, you look exactly like her.
You’re bringing back memories. He laughed. I stared at you for hours. More than stared.
I’ll stop, but jeez. You are beautiful. What brings you here?
They laughed. (Lots of laughing.)
What’s the project?
Suhad looked at me. I didn’t object to her answering even though it wasn’t announced yet.
It’s a thing with Salma Hayek.
She’s part Lebanese, isn’t she? Fabio asked.
On her father’s side.
I met her once. She was a bit of a bully. Didn’t need to be either. They wanted us to do a photoshoot together, a big spread, but she agreed only if I wore my hair in a pony tail.
My hair is me. My signature. She would be in front of me, with her fake you-know-whats at eye-level, you know. He gets it. -This was directed at me.
Exactly, I said. Getting nothing.
She had all these demands, it was awful. We didn’t do it.
We’ll tell her you said hi.
It’ll be hilarious.
I think your car is ready.
By the way, I have a passion project, a film. Maybe you guys would be interested?
What’s it about?
It’s about an aging romance novel cover model.
Okay, yeah, it’s based on my life, but it’s heightened. To make it interesting. It starts out like my life did, you know, kicking around, getting spotted, hitting gyms, teaming up with the right photographers. But then, I am asked to infiltrate a crime family.
Do you have to cut your hair? I asked.
Cutting your hair would be cool. People would pay to watch that. I mean, especially if you go undercover-
No, I infiltrate as myself. I date the daughter of the big boss and get invited to their home in Zurich or Verona or some place where we can get a film rebate. I think like a producer.
So this is you playing this part now, or…
Both, we can use CGI to make me look younger. But it can be me with some years, too.
Okay. I said.
But here’s where it becomes different than anything you’ve seen before. As a cover model, I’ve done shoots with lots of horses, you know. I own a few horses, keep them out in Calabasas. Whitney Cummings and I share a stable. She’s funny. But here’s the thing. The Godfather, the girl’s dad, he wants me to be on the cover of his book that he’s written. But I read the book and it’s awful, right, it’ll kill my brand — not that I haven’t been on the cover of some real doozies, but this is dreck, pure dreck.
It’s about how he has re-invented toast.
He wants me to become the spokesmodel for a new kind of toast. What’s better than sliced bread? His new toast! Yeah, right.
I can’t say no to him or he’ll have me buried in the lake with cement shoes.
Wait, why did you infiltrate the family in the first place?
Oh, right, yeah, see, I’m supposed to get close enough to record him and his goombas talking about their ice cream truck racket. They use ice cream trucks as cover to pick up cash drops along routes in Detroit. That’s where the horses come in. The Feds are on to them and the ice cream trucks, so I suggest that they use Ice Cream Horses. Like they must have done before Henry Ford or whoever invented the engine.
So kids run up to the horses and get their ice cream?
Well, the horses pull refrigerated things with wheels. You guys get on board this and we’ll work all that out. That’s easy.
How’s it end? Suhad asked.
You realize I’m making this up, right?
I’m just trying to figure out how to keep in touch with you. He was looking at Suhad. Maybe if we pretend we’re meeting about a film project, it gives us time to get to know each other.
Slick. I thought.
What do you use in your hair? I asked him.
My own product line. Aston James.
So, coffee later? He asked Suhad.
I’ll text you, she said.
Can’t wait, he said.