In exchange for a free ride, I read out loud to the driver from the only book in the car, Sentimental Education, down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles on the way to a surfer’s-only beach. Otherwise, there was a surf magazine on the floor containing interviews. Inside, a number of surfing legends discussed catching their biggest waves. 

My ride was a professional surfer, winning awards as a child, and he often made the drive down to San Onofre beach. On his surf board he could walk forwards and backwards.

Moving around the world, he bumped into things.

Flaubert’s Sentimental Education struck me as too tedious and old fashioned to read out loud, but luckily the surfer had familiarity with the story and knew where to pick up with Arnoux, Frederic, and Madame Arnoux in the midst of their fight.

“Those are strong words. I can hear a drama behind them,” he said.


 

The novel takes a dark turn, and Madame Arnoux confronts her husband about the cashmere shawl that he bought for another woman:

“Because after all, you did buy it.”

“I?”

“Yes, you. At the Persian shop.”

“The cashmere shawl!” thought Frederic.

At this moment, the lines suggested fashion, prompting the surfer to digress. He told me a fashion story about a photographer. This particular photographer had a naivity to his face that worked to his advantage. This photographer had strange acts of persuasion. 

 

On a large budget campaign, he froze in front of the subject, and under the wire, he stuffed  all of the sideline models into a hotel hallway, shooting the campaign to much critical acclaim despite three days of blown money. The surfer told me these and other stories all the way to the beach.

 


From top: Hermes bangles, INA Nolita; Margiela leather men's bag, INA MEN Nolita; Comme Des Garcons men's blouse, INA Men Nolita; Jean Paul Gaultier men's cuff, INA Men Nolita; Gryphon bejeweled sweater, INA Chelsea; Prada men's platform loafer, INA Chelsea.