August 23, 2008

Imagine all the terrain...

...between the ear and the other ear.

I just had the loveliest experience getting glass cut.

For about a year and a half, I have been meaning to get a piece of glass cut that would be a shelf in my medicine cabinet. It hasn't happened for a wide variety of reasons (which are not only due to procrastination and are much more complicated than you might expect from a need-to-get-glass-cut story), but today and I woke up and decided it was the day to go to Pacific Glass at 19th and Balboa.

Though the hours were posted as 9am-1pm on Saturdays, the door was locked when I got there at 10:00 and I thought, 'Curses. My glass-cutting plans are foiled again..." A tall Asian man with graying temples rushed up to unlock the door and let me in. He smiled pleasantly as I greeted him, explained what I needed, and handed over the measurements I had taken.

As he was getting the glass ready, I wandered around the cluttered, dusty shop. Some items that he had tacked on the wall caught my eye. One was a page with part of the lyrics to "Hey, Jude." The were written in careful penmanship by a hand obviously unaccustomed to writing the English alphabet. I was charmed.

"Do you mind if I take a picture of the song lyrics?" I asked.

He looked up from his work and smiled with puzzlement. "The words?" he asked. "You like them? It's Beatles. They are very famous old band."

I smiled. "Yes, I love the Beatles," I told him, "and this is a great song. But what I really like is that you put the words up on the wall. Is it okay if I take a picture?"

"Yes, but they are not finished," he cautioned, because it was only part of the song.

"It's okay. I like them just the way they are," I assured him. I pulled out my camera.

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He watched me curiously as I continued to amble around, taking a couple more pictures of things he'd put on the wall.

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"You are artist?" he asked.

I laughed. "No, no. But I really like to keep my camera with me and take pictures. Especially of words on walls and signs."

"You are interesting girl."

I laughed again. "Did you draw these pictures?"

"Yes," he said proudly. "I am an artist."

He took me over to where he had some more.

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"Who is that man?" I asked him, pointing to the picture that appeared to be an autographed picture of an actor. He told me his name and I asked him to repeat it, but for the life of me I couldn't understand what he said and I couldn't read the hand-writing on the picture.

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"He is French," he explained. "He was actor in the 1950s in movies that weren't very famous, but he is my favorite. He is what I want to be if I get another chance."

"Another chance?" I asked.

"Yes. If I die and come back again, I want to be this man. Of course, he is old man now. But when he was young he was very handsome. And when you are handsome the women like it. When you are handsome the women want to...give you the love." He flushed and looked away.

"Yes, yes," I agreed. "It's true."

"Who is your next chance?" he asked.

I thought for a minute. "I'm not sure. Maybe Audrey Hepburn?" He frowned in thought. "She was an actress--also in the 1950s. She was very beautiful." I pulled out a scrap sheet of paper and carefully printed her name. I waved my hand in the direction of his computer where he had been looking up song lyrics. "You should look at some pictures of her on the internet."

"What is your name?" he asked. I told him, and bent over and also printed it on the scrap of paper. He gave me his business card, and introduced himself as Tommy. I asked him about himself.

He is from Mongolia, and has only been in the U.S. for five years. He says he loves it here, because it is more peaceful here and he can relax. He explained that he'd only started drawing a little bit again recently--he hadn't done it for twenty years.

"My country is very screwed up," he explained. "I didn't have time to dream. I have to work. I have to feed my kids. No dreaming and drawing allowed. Now that I have time to dream again, my friends say I should draw. So I practice." As I admired one drawing in particular, he pulled it down off the wall, signed it and gave it to me. I took a picture of him while he signed it, and I thanked him profusely.

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Drawing by Tommy Shabbu

"You are interesting girl," he said again, shaking his head and smiling. "Do you have web page?" I showed him the closest thing I had to a web page--my MySpace page. He liked looking through my pictures. "I hope you will come back to visit," he said. "I will practice drawing."

I promised I would, took a couple more pictures, and shook his hand and paid for my glass. It fit perfectly. And I'm still smiling.

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Toad's Lair said...

Note: My friend Patrick has since told me that this actor's name is Alain Delon.

Rebecca said...

this story made me happy. thanks for sharing, a.

I'm just me... said...

I know I've already told you, but I love your interesting encounters.