by Muzaffar Khaleeli
I was twenty-five and never had a girlfriend. It was because I was almost bald. The girls I wanted to date would look at my picture and think they were dating their fathers. “Mom,” I said, “I need a hair weave.”
“Use a toupee, as your uncle Faridoon does.”
“It looks fake,” I replied, “And moves whenever he sneezes.”
“Then attach it to your head with a bit of PoliGrip,” added my sister.
“That pink stuff?” I pictured myself sweating in that fake hair piece and a dribble of pink Poligrip streaking down my face, a la Mr. Rudy Giuliani.
“You are becoming Persian,” my father gushed. “With a big you know what, it starts with a P and ends with an S.”
“It’s an old joke Dad. Proboscis.”
“It’s called hair migration joon-am. It leaves the top of your head and appears out of your ears, your nose, and in the form of a luxurious beard. Look at all the mullahs. They are bald, but have fantastic beards.”
“How much will it cost?” my younger sister inquired.
I had done my research and I was happy to enlighten them. “If I went to a hair salon in Beverly Hills it would cost $25,000. In Istanbul, about $10,000, and in Tijuana only $5,000 at the Hair Rejuvenation Clinic!”
“Do you have that type of money? If you want a hair weave, get a job and pay for it.”
The thought of working for someone was below me. I saw myself as an entrepreneur without an enterprise. So, I turned to a life of petty crime.
One day I was walking in my neighborhood in Beverly Hills and a woman approached me. “Do you live here?”
“Depends. Why do you ask?”
“I want to rent out your beautiful cobblestone driveway for a photoshoot. I’ll pay you $1,000. We will use the driveway from 10 till 2. Next Friday.”
“You got it!” I said, “But for $3,000.” We settled on $1,500. That’s how I ended up renting out my neighbor’s driveway. They were always at work. He was an attorney and she a doctor.
Next, I called my grandmother in New Jersey. “Hello, Bibi Joon!” I said cheerfully.
“You want money? You only call when you want something.” I pictured her dressed in black, smoking her 555 cigarettes, drinking a cup of mint tea, and watching Persian soap operas.
“You always give me $100 for my birthday,” I pleaded. “Can you give me twenty years in advance?”
“I am eighty-two. I don’t expect to live that long. The only exciting thing in my life is the TV and the soap operas are boring. The same story. Everyone has a bout with amnesia.”
She negotiated me down to $500. Slowly, my total was adding up.
Then I decided to set up a lemonade stand. The only fruit that grows in Southern California is lemons. We are drowning in them. The stand had lemonade spelled “LYMON-AYD.” Kind of cute I thought.
The kids down the street also had a lemonade stand the same day as mine. “Hey! Mister!” It was the ten-year-old girl. Her hands were on her hips and she was glaring at me. “Aren’t you a bit old to have a lemonade stand?”
They made over $100. I cleared $7.
In times of crisis and you need a little extra spending money, I did what all entrepreneurs do. I had a yard sale. My family was traveling that weekend, so I sold my dad’s collection of Michael Jackson LPs, his Toto CDs, and my older sister’s wedding dress. She had married again, and I figured that dress only held bad memories. I netted $170.
I called the doctor at the hair clinic in Tijuana, Dr. Mira Flores. “Do you speak Spanish?” I asked.
“Hello!” she replied. “I live in Mexico. We all speak Spanish.”
That is how I ended up getting a student loan for $1,000. She taught me Spanish from the now renamed Language & Hair Rejuvenation Clinic. I used my neighbors’ names, social security numbers, and addresses to get the loan. All their information was available online.
I could almost see Tijuana and my full head of hair.
Then everything came to a screeching halt. The pandemic hit. We were stuck at home, with no travel, no dating, and no hair weave. The government decided to lighten people’s spirits by giving away free money in the form of unemployment benefits. I applied, even though I had never worked a day in my life.
One day when I came home, everything was in a kerfuffle. My parents were on the phone, talking very loudly. My younger sister was working on three different laptops, surfing the internet. “What happened?” I inquired.
“It’s Bibi Joon.”
“She has been arrested?”
“Yes. Arrested by the IRS and Treasury Department for filing fake unemployment benefits!”
Anyhow. These things happen. But my ingenious endeavor garnered me $2,500. Enough for the trip of a lifetime.
Two months later, I had my first date at the Flamin Lips Saloon. I was super confident with a new hair weave, I would finally have a girlfriend. Betsy, if that’s even her real name, told me online that she loved dating Persian men.
When she saw me, the first thing she said was “You have hair. I was hoping for a bald Persian. It kind of turns me on.”
Oh well. I am now twenty-seven and do not have a girlfriend.