My dear hostess looked me over carefully the other day and said that she liked my appearance much better the last time we met, and that was before I went into exile in Italy to become a scruffy wild man. I should, she said, get rid of the beard and the moustache. I replied that I was reluctant to do that, inasmuch as it all was symbolic of the great change I intended to make in my life, my behavior. "Well at a minimum lose that growth on the side of your face," she said. "Better yet, go to a good barber and have him work you over properly. You must look civilized at our dinner party Monday.."
Yes, indeed. Among the guests tonight will be Lance Morrow, of Time Magazine, who also is professor of Journalism at Boston University. Betsy Von Furstenberg, the actress. And the guest of honor, Rick Moody, author of "The Ice Storm," and most recently, "The Black Veil."
So early this afternoon I walked Lexington Avenue until I encountered the salon of Jean Pieffe. I said I needed to end up looking much less scruffy. The receptionist smiled. "Yes, you've come to exactly the right place."
My barber-or I should say hairdresser-was Bella. Which of course as everyone knows is Italian for beautiful. Taking our picture was a girl by the name of Hanit. I asked her if she were from Lebanon.
"No, Israel," she said.
"I'm so sorry," I said.
"No, really," I said. "That was about the most insulting thing you've probably heard all day."
Again she laughed. "Don't worry, I've heard worse."