Sunset Boulevard, San Francisco-style

Wednesday, 24 July 2013



I've had a lot of time to think lately. Late last night, when I couldn't sleep, I was thinking about a supermodel that I met in San Francisco. A supermodel who said that she would call me, but never did...

I was walking down Market Street when I saw a woman with long, frail hands holding onto a piece of scaffolding.
"Are you alright, love?" I asked.
"No, I... I've made a bloody fool of myself. Can you help?"
"Course I can. Are you English?" I asked, noticing her accent.
"No. Welsh, darling." she replied, suddenly turning on a Welsh accent. "My name's Morfa." she said, pronouncing it Mwahkkfa.
She was an older woman, but one whom carried herself with a grace that suggested she'd had a lot of male attention in her lifetime.
"What are you doing here, Morfa?"
"Well my bloody carer never lets me buy cigarettes does he? So I came out to buy some myself but then found it difficult to see in this light. I'm afraid I'll bump into something."
I took her arm and we began walking down Market Street. She was taller than me, and very slim. Her teeth were browning, and one of them was cracked all the way up to the gum. I wondered why she hadn't had false teeth put in.
"Before you take me home can you do me a favor?" she asked.
"What's that?"
"Can you run over the road and buy me some cigarettes?"

We arrived back to her apartment, which was situated in an 'assisted residence' building. When we approached the door she suddenly sprang into life and began walking by herself.
"You will come in for a cup of tea, won't you?" she asked, with a hopeful look on her face.
"Ok."
"Splendid. Do let me know if I'm taking up too much of your time."
"Don't worry about me, I've got all the time in the world."
"Oh," she said, furrowing her brow for a moment, "well that's something."

There were half-eaten bits of food on all of the surfaces in her apartment, and broken kitchen items strewn around on the floor. An uneaten takeaway pizza was curled up in an open box on top of the oven. It was coated in a white grease that glistened in the late afternoon light.
She noticed that I was staring at the pizza. "Do you want some?"
"No thanks. Don't they help you with the cleaning here?"
"Yes they try, but I don't let them in." she answered, reverting back to her middle class English accent. "The problem is they can't clean the place without talking, and I can't stand it because they butcher the language. I'll not have any Americans in my flat."
She opened one of the cupboard units and I heard her long, yellow fingernails clinking on a teapot.
"What kind of tea would you like?"
"Err... do you have Earl Grey?"
"No..." she said, looking concerned. "Only normal tea."
"Normal tea is fine." I said, washing out one of the dirty cups on the kitchen side.
"Do you like to clean?" she asked, "Would you like a job?"
"I already have a job."

Now, she said, once the tea was ready. "Let me show you something."
She brought a large folder from her bedroom, which she presented to me with a generous smile on her face. I opened it to find that it was full of press cuttings, photographs, business cards and letters, hundreds of letters.
In almost all of the photos there was a beautiful, dark-eyed model with a 60's - style bob and perfect white teeth. Some photographs were head shots, others magazine cuttings, more still showed her dining in Paris or London or New York with a young Yves Saint Laurent and his entourage. There was an elegant hand-written letter from the lifelong partner of Saint Laurent, thanking Morfa for her letter of condolence. There were a number of letters from Sachs 5th Avenue, written on a typewriter, congratulating Morfa Lewis-Mansi on being their highest earning personal stylist of 1982, 1983, and so on.
"What do you think of that?" she asked. "I was quite the looker, wasn't I?"
"You were indeed." I answered, wondering why there were no photographs on the wall of her apartment. "Don't you have any family here in San Francisco?"
"Well I have a son, but she doesn't let me see him anymore."
"She?"
"His wife. Although it's understandable because I didn't have much to do with him when he was growing up. He called his au pair 'Mama'".
"And your husband?"
"Which one? I divorced all of them."

She handed me a piece of paper on which a poem was written:

Ode to Gracie

I used to say I love you
And you would say 'I love you too'
Oh Gracie, how I miss you
But Mummy will join you soon

I read the poem through three times, and was gripped with a mixture of horror and pity. "You had a daughter?"
"Now, don't be daft," she said, snatching the poem from me. "Gracie was my pet budgie. It's terribly lonely here without her. She took a fall one day, like her mother."
She folded up the poem and placed it back carefully amongst her lifetime of paper memories. Her finger nails really did look as though she had been soaking them in tea.

I wrote my phone number down on a piece of paper and then stood up to leave.
"Call me if you need help with anything."
"Well you'll come back soon, won't you? I'll buy some Earl Grey tea."
"That'd be great." I said, resigned to becoming a replacement budgie.

And that was that. I'm sure I'm not the only man who gave his phone number to a supermodel and then never heard from her again.

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