The Urban Man
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Halloween on Rodeo Drive

Halloween on Rodeo Drive
By Marc Porter Zasada

Each Halloween, psychologists tell me that ghosts and ghouls are just projections of my hidden fears and secret desires. And sure enough, last week, the Urban Man narrowly escaped a vampire on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. He was a fashionable vampire, and I'm certain he was a projection of my darkest desires.

It was a chilly noon, and as usual, the sidewalks were deserted except for Midwestern tourists and the wives of traveling Asian businessmen, desperately searching for ever larger handbags from Louis Vuitton.

Few locals enter these grim blocks, and celebrities slip in after closing. Me, I just happened to be in the neighborhood, strolling along like the unwitting hero of some old horror flick. For some time I passed safely among the gaudy houses of Giorgio and Gianni, Hugo and Salvatore.

I can never remember which of these men is living and which is dead, but each of their boutiques beckons like an empty marble crypt. Inside, one sees no customers, but the scarves and shoes are laid out like brilliant corpses, backlit on their cold slabs of glass.

At last, temptation comes. In one dark doorway, I pause and think: Don't I need a new sport jacket?

If you were in the audience of a real horror flick, you might now want to shout bac, "Don't go in! Watch out for Hugo! Beware of Giorgio!" But just like the innocent hero, I can't hear you.

Inside, I find gloomy mirrors and flatscreen monitors displaying cadaverous models on Paris runways. Here and there, a few richly-tooled perfume bottles lie scattered beneath the spotlights. I am the only customer, and many black-suited staff turn to stare at my unworthy Nordstrom sweater vest, along with my very large silver and turquoise belt buckle, a loud souvenir of Arizona.

Still, the wealthy hush induces a trance, and my secret desires lead me up a wide and empty staircase, where a young metrosexual has apparently been waiting for me all morning. I try not to look into his bloodshot eyes, but I gasp as he takes down a jacket shot with threads of teal and magenta.

Yes, it's a sport coat of many colors, and like Joseph standing before the mirror, I suddenly dream of exceeding all my limits as The Urban Man. Indeed, I picture myself as some kind of International Urbanite. A man who hangs with Giorgio and Sergio. At $1700, it suddenly seems like a bargain.

And then lo, as if from a great distance, I do finally hear the audience shouting at me from their seats: "Don't do it. You'll look like a clown." And yes, I remove the jacket, I make some hurried excuse, and I rush outside.

But I am not yet safe.

For just as I hit the sidewalk, I come face to face with that vampire. Actually, he's an international design superstar striding down Rodeo Drive with an entourage of 12 or 15 fawning assistants. I won't say if he's Giorgio or Sergio, but he's in his early seventies and pencil thin, with long silver hair pulled back in a severe pony tail. High around his neck rises a stiff, white, 18th-century collar, and as he fixes me with a withering stare, he looks exactly like a still from my imagined horror film.

Me, I hook my fingers in my belt and flash the big silver and turquoise buckle as if it were an amulet or at least, some defiant American statement. "I foreswear the dream," I mean to say. "You have no power over me."

Nothing registers on his dessicated face, but he and his entourage pass safely by, and I think: Surely, the Urban Man has evaded one more dark, if highly cosmopolitan fate, here in the great metropolis.

Better yet, I have lived to tell the tale.

Copyright - 2005 Marc Porter Zasada. All rights reserved. Happy Halloween.

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