Ibrahim had been focused on making money through his business.
Towards the start of summer, it was all about his business: an apparel company. He was asking me about how to increase his presence on Facebook. He was having meetings in the fashion district. He was getting his website up. He even started using Twitter to contact the guy who started FUBU.
The past three weeks though he seems to have slightly deviated from that focus. Or at least I haven’t heard much about the company. He was auditioning for a TV dating show one week to promote the brand. A few days ago, he told me that he was going to try to giggalo himself to older rich women.
Giggalo, yes. I always thought he was good at getting women, or at least from the way he describes it.
“I am living in a dream world here” said Gilbert. “You look at everyone who lives here, they have nice jobs. And then I’m here.”
One day when I was out helping him and he took me out to eat, he honestly looked like a homeless man: balding head un-made, dirty t-shirt, old glasses, jean shorts, slippers, a gut, and a slight arch to his back.
All of that betrays the genius and wealth of experience that I see in this dude.
He is not long-term unemployed, but perhaps long-term under-employed with no health care. Gilbert’s body is laced with a hernia, bad knees, bad joints. 59 years old trying to hold on for social security.
Ibrahim pointed out to me the absurdity of his diet: sherbet ice cream, untouched vegetables, brownies and cookies, tons of juice. Gilbert pointed out that all his eating was probably due to his depression. He doesn’t say “depression” with any cracking in his voice. That’s not his style. He says it matter-of-factly; he reminds me of my college friend Daniel, though there’s a much more pointed, darker implications for him.
I’d spent some part of this summer going balls to the wall helping Gilbert out finding a job, which means dressing up his resume, and applying for every job he’s had his eye on.
He hasn’t been selfish with the perks for helping him search, at least towards me. He does buy me lunch almost every time he sees me, and he’s offered me a month of free rent if I could find him a job. I take every lunch as a blessing.
I’m still dumbfounded at how he has trouble finding a job: he has all the skills I wish I’d grown up learning: skills of a car mechanic, an electrician, a carpenter, a plumber, a repairman, plus experience as a scuba diver, canoer, mountain biker. In his heyday, he had made $150,000 on doing his electrical work, directing, supervising, and teaching a fairly large crew for years.
The problem is not lack of skills, but simply that he doesn’t know anyone. Having a job or enough wealth to sustain oneself is a “social problem.” A “social problem” meaning he doesn’t know anyone that will hook him up with an income-generating mechanism, nor does he know many people that will casually toss him an allowance.
Money is a social construction, but elements in our society like to treat it as a driving, supernatural force that is somehow always right. You don’t have enough money? Tough luck! That’s not my problem!
And now its come down to this.
A porn video.
After all, Gilbert’s buddy is a writer, has a high-definition camera, is a (struggling) writer in Hollywood, and sex always sells.
Ibrahim wanted in as well.
We then started talking about how we were going to start it. Gilbert would be the old guy, he would bring back that El Salvadorean woman he briefly dated a while back and pay her money to star in this movie with him. It was just any excuse for Gilbert to fantasize about getting paid while getting some pune for the first time in a while. Any pune, hopefully over 18 years old though.
We had to make sure. The guy down the street in the pink house was recently involved in a locally televised car chase. Turns out the guy was a teacher for LAUSD and is accused of committing lewd acts on a child.
Should we ever get caught with a minor, we would have to register as sex offenders. Gilbert pointed out “That follows you everywhere you go.”
“How about we just rob a bank?” Gilbert suggested. Ibrahim, you would get out in 10 years, I’d probably just die in prison. At least you don’t have to tell anyone after a while, you’re still young.”
I thought it was a good idea. Ibrahim could smooth-talk a young teller. Gilbert and I would then find a way in. Gilbert’s dog, who is very good at vulturing my food and my shoes/slippers, would make the perfect heist dog.
Not sure it would’ve been all that different from what the banks have done to people for years.