A very tall Chinese man walked into the salon in the evening towards closing hours. He asked if I could go work on his friends from a hotel. I was very hesitant but he was a bit persuasive. He promised a heavy tip. He left me with his card. I told him that I would think about it.
The hotel, Four Seasons, was less than 10 minutes away from my workplace in Beijing. I got into a cab and went.At the reception, I was given someone to lead me to the room.
We found two guards in black suits at the door standing on both sides. When I was let in, the first thing that caught my eye was a kitchen (Why is there a kitchen in a hotel room?) then a Living room (Again, why is there a huge living room inside a hotel room?). In this room stood around 4 to 5 tall athletic men.
I had to set up in a room with proper lighting and a mirror so we used the bathroom in the bedroom. On the bedroom screen, it had a warm welcome note that started with a “Dear Mr. Howard…..)
The first man I worked on was white and wanted a marine haircut. I later found out he was a personal trainer.
Next was a tall black man. He wore sports shorts with socks in push in sandals and a body-tight black T-shirt. He was really tall, too tall, taller than tall people.
He had a wide smile and bright teeth. He sat down with his legs wide open because he couldn’t fit properly. We were the same height when he sat down as I stood. I draped him and started the haircut. He had a widow’s peak on his hairline.
During the haircut, we had a long conversation (read Interrogation) that exposed my ignorance for sports.
I asked him what he does, He replied all my question with that thick heavy American people accent that never sounds like English
“I’m an a-th-e”
“I’m an ath-e-llete” He replied so slowly
Me: “You like run? That’s your job?”
Giggles first “Oh no, I do basketball”
Me: “Are you famous?” I asked out of curiosity because he had a white personal trainer and security at the door.
He just burst into laughter
Me: “What’s your name?”
At this point, he had gotten comfortable and he replied in his accent and all I heard was
But because I had read on the screen, I knew Hawa meant Howard but I wasn’t sure if Dwe meant Derrick, Drake or Drew.
I asked him to say it slower this time but it still sounded the same “Drey Hawa”
I didn’t want to overlook silly, I changed the subject.
After the haircut, I knew this must be some sort of big person. I needed to know who and how big. I asked him if we could take a selfie with his phone. He had a later version of an iPhone that took clearer pictures. He was ok with it.
He took and sent. I received them via WhatsApp. He was a fun guy.
The tall Chinese guy paid me for the haircuts and also gave me an extra 100 dollar note as a tip. That was my pay at the end of the month then (600RMB). I later found out that he was the coach for the Chinese basketball team.
Yvonne (Vovo) was my African friend that knew more about America than Africa even if she had never been to America. I called her to ask her about “Dwe Hawa”
Have you ever heard of an American basketball player called Dwe Hawa?
“Dwe Hawa?” She asked.
“I know of an NBA basketball player called Dwight Howard”
“Yes yes, that’s the name…I just did his haircut!” I replied.
*Screaaaaaaaaaaaaaaming* is all she did. I didn’t understand.
I asked her for the spelling
My life has never been the same. I got STAR STRUCK after the fact. I was so in total shock that I cancelled my night out. I started replaying all the possible ways I could’ve made great friends with him. How I could’ve cooked up a business deal to get into a partnership with him.
But above all, how I could’ve put my self up for adoption by him. Madonna, Brad Pitt adopt Africans all the time, I wasn’t that old (I tried to convince myself)
We kept chatting for months on WhatsApp but that was almost about the time I started cocaine, I got high and comfortable.
The lesson I took away from that moment: Opportunities come when you least expect them. You just have to let them in.