Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Monday afternoon at the Lava Lava Laundromat

When I arrived, the place was empty, which was fine by me. It gave me time to get my bearings. To decipher everything. All of the soap machines were inoperable for varoius reasons, but the fabric softener worked, so I figured better that than nothing. Just as the wash cycle began and my clothes commenced sloshing around, a man appeared in the doorway. He'd only been gone for a few minutes, he explained, half apologetic, half accusatory. No problem, I said. I had it under control. He assessed my situation (thankfully not acknowledging the fabric softener) and then informed me that I could leave my token and he'd rotate my wash to the dryer. A kind gesture, but anyone who knows me knows that I'm pretty cautious about entrusting my delicates to others. Reluctantly, though, I accepted his offer, and left to go see the city. The man was waiting for me upon my return, and he immediately produced his "portfolio," consisting of a number of newspaper clippings and some amazing original drawings stuffed into a school notebook. His interests, I gathered from the materials, are 1) collecting information any time the newspaper publishes lists of the world's richest and most powerful people, and 2) cars. I nodded enthusiastically as he leafed through the papers, running down lists of names: Barack Obama, the Pope, some guy in Abu Dhabi, Osama Bin Laden. He spoke quickly, and I was unable to determine his attitude toward these lists.

And then came the drawings. Oh my. He didn't go to the University, he explained, but he loves drawing. Cars. He loves drawing cars, and he proceeded to show me page after page of remarkable speculative designs of cars of the future. The best part about these drawings is that they were made exclusively with cheap Bic pens. Solo un Bic.

The man prepared some photocopies of these designs. Good souvenirs, he said, and I agreed, saying that they were much more personal than other things. As we parted, he called me over one last time to show me two of his favorite newspaper clippings. One was a piece on Obama's ultra-secure bulletproof limo. The other, a piece on a Maserati hearse.

I was halfway out the door when he called to me, imploring me to write to him when I direct a movie and it hits the big screen.

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