Friday, October 24, 2008
The wig man
This was his home.
I drive past the bus stop on Laguna @ Hayes every day on my way to Rosie’s school, and for months he would be sitting there, relaxing on the corner bench, his arm resting on his thigh with a thinly rolled cigarette between his fingers, his black slits for eyes watching the cars go by. A shopping trolley would be standing close, parked under a tree, filled to the brim with plastic bags and colorful fabrics, a plastic flower garland draped around the side. Sometimes he made a provisionary table in the corner of the bus shelter, making the people waiting for the bus look uncomfortable, as if they were invading his space, Sometimes he would be hunched over his trolley, headless, as he rummaged deep into his grey rubbish bags.
He first caught my eye because he was sitting on the bench wearing a big red curly clown’s wig, with not a twitch of emotion in his face. Other times he wore a slightly less obvious Afro wig in black. Sometimes he would just be wearing what I think was his own, a head of limp plaits, finished with a few colored beads, framing his shriveled brown face. I would look and see the red and black wigs stuffed underneath his trolley, parked under the tree as usual.
I wondered if he would break into a big smile if spoken to. I had plans to stop and ask to take his portrait, hoping my then hairless head and purple turban would prove to be a common talking point. I planned to ask about his wigs, hoping it was a form of artistic self-expression. More likely however, I think it was a good way of keeping his head warm.
I never stopped of course, and now it's too late. Since the start of the new school year, and my daily commute down Laguna has resumed, I haven’t seen him once. I still look out for him every day, hoping the wig man will return. Or at least that he has found a better spot.