La Scala’s Chopped Salad and Ellen Barkin’s Hair

Gabriel Byrne, me Matthew Winter, Tara, Augie and Barnaby at Fourth of July parade, Palisades

Today, Barnaby, my youngest turned 20. Sounds pretty old to me. When he was very little he was quite shy; he would turn beet red and look down if he had to speak to someone. I remember when he was only 4 years old he had a huge crush on Cameron Diaz and couldn’t get enough of her from, “The Mask.” He also fancied Kate Moss and Ellen Barkin. I thought, wow, good taste for a kid that age. My husband, not his biological father, thought this kid will be knocking someone up by the time he’s a teenager. He seemed pretty girl or rather women crazy. But then real life takes a turn and by the time he was a teen he was determined not to have a girlfriend. And he held to that as long as he possibly could. He’s not holding to it anymore. He’s been dating someone for nearly a year, and he’s head over heels.
We didn’t know Kate Moss or Cameron Diaz, but we did spend a lot of time with Ellen Barkin. She was very close to one of my best friends and a group of us spent most Sundays hanging at Kimberly’s, swimming. Let me say this, Ellen Barkin is one of the sexiest women alive. I totally got Barnaby having this early crush. She is smart, sultry, engaging and funny. Did I mention that she also had one of the best haircuts around? I was certain she went to one of the top cater to celebrity hairdressers, and as much as I wanted her great haircut, I thought, probably out of my price range. I actually go to Supercuts — or rather went to Supercuts — now I go to Rudy’s Barbershop. I like fast and cheap. I’m not fussy about hair or makeup and spend very little on either. But at that time I was kind of longing for Ellen Barkin’s fabulous haircut, so one day I asked her where she got it and how much it cost.
I thought if you’re ready to cut your hair into a bob it’s better to spring for the big bucks and do it right. So, I made my appointment. The minute I sat down, I told the stylist I was Ellen’s friend and that her cut was the exact one I wanted. That part was easy. In no time at all I was transformed into Ellen Barkin. No fucking kidding. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, wow, this is great!
I left the salon and walked down the street, Canon Drive in Beverly Hills, looking at my reflection in each window I passed. I couldn’t get enough of myself and my new look. That is when I saw a vision in the street, just doors away from where I got my new do. In front of me was a stunning man with the bluest eyes that matched his bluest shirt. I thought he looked like Gabriel Byrne, Ellen’s recent ex-husband, whom I had never had the pleasure of meeting. Then I realized it was Gabriel. I’m thinking, here I am looking like Ellen Barkin (at least from the forehead up), so surely he will notice me. And he did!! I’m not making this shit up, this oh, so handsome, famous actor was checking me out, looking straight into my eyes. So, I said “Hi, I’m Fredde, Kimberly’s friend, perhaps you’ve heard of me.” Ha! Who did I think I was? But I was serious. I mean, he was very close with her, and my kids were often spending days swimming with his kids, so it seemed possible. Then this stunning man says, “Yes.” What else is he going to say? And seconds after humoring me, pretending to know who I am, he asks me what I’m doing tomorrow. Seriously? So I say, “I don’t know, what are you doing tomorrow, Gabriel?” And he says he wants to have a play date. We make plans to hang out the next day with all of our kids.
I give him my phone number, and immediately call a few girlfriends to tell them that Gabriel Byrne just made plans with me. It seemed so random. Random and faintly exciting. The next day he shows up at my house with his children and I say, “Let’s take a walk.” I had a babysitter that day and so we went off for a walk without kids. And I give him a tour of my hood, which is a great hood. And suddenly I turn into some sort of real estate agent and I’m encouraging him to move to the Palisades. I show him all the available, and at the time, EXTRA cheap homes.
Gabriel told me stories on this walk and I was mesmerized by them; he could have recited the phone book with that Irish lilt and those blazing blues and I would have been mesmerized. Everything he said sounded far too magical — particularly when he told me he had recently purchased a farmhouse in Ireland for $50 thousand dollars (or was it pounds?). I later told my husband about the Irish farmhouse and he said, “Let’s buy three!”
I’m thinking that if I got that Ellen Barkin haircut on Canon Drive, I probably stopped by La Scala afterwards to pick up their famous chopped salad. Now you have my food part of this story.
I rarely saw much of Gabriel Byrne after our little play date, but he did come to Barnaby’s 5th birthday party. And I would see him from time to time at other parties. I’m never quite sure if he remembers me but he’s an actor, and sorry to say, they can be a bit self-absorbed. I try not to take it personally.
I also haven’t seen Ellen in ages. The last time was when she was first dating the rich dude. Soon after that she moved to New York to be a billionaire’s wife and I’m certain she never had any problem affording the very best haircuts.

my Ellen Barkin hair had already grown out, sorry

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8 Responses to “La Scala’s Chopped Salad and Ellen Barkin’s Hair”

  1. Doreen says:

    Great story but I think you need to embellish the part about the chopped salad. The La Scala chopped salad that we all love so much. Where are the details? You didn’t even say what was in it. You probably couldn’t think past Gabriel’s eyes…..

  2. pauli moss says:

    The La Scala chopped salad is classic – perhaps on a par with GB. If I remember correctly the ingredients were iceberg lettuce, provolone, salami, black olives, tomato, garbanzo beans, green onions and the dressing was a red wine vinaigrette. The secret was getting everything finely chopped – in the exact same shape and size so it felt comfortable in the mouth.

  3. janet graham says:

    love the unabashed honesty of this piece. the search for identity first through adopting ellen barkin’s hairstyle and then through Byrne’s blue eyes though you don’t get off that easy on the chopped salad. let’s hear about it and how it relates to the rest of the piece.

  4. toni miller says:

    Fredde you’ve done it again!!!

    I just met a girlfriend (semi-famous sculptress) for an Alejo’s chopped… ever had one of those? My mouth still burns from the fresh garlic/olive oil dip that I used to cover the most delicious warm-out-of-the-oven Italian bread ever! Ahhhhh food glorious food. Life just wouldn’t be worth livin’ without it!

  5. OK – BRAVO BRAVO!!! A story to remember and I can just see you checking yourself out in all of the store windows!! Who wouldn’t with a brand new Ellen DOOOOOOO!!! We all know and adore the chopped salad and when I come to see you next that is where I want to go – or maybe for the Burger from an earlier blog!! No – chopped DIVINE salad it is! Thanks Duke another fabulous memory. xxoo

  6. Jennifer Dudley Arbaugh says:

    Leon’s chopped, unmatched. Enhaled my last one 5 years ago with my best buddy Felice Fallon Loncraine. Barkin; if Ed and I did the cross over dance she would be our first choice. Sexy beast. She married Ron Pearlman, scion of Revlon. ICKY and greasy.

    As for your buddy Gabriel, yummy…

    Keep sharing the memories and receipes. Can u have La Scala package the salad ship to moi??? xxxxxxxx jenn

  7. Love the story, can just imagine …

    Was that Angelo by any chance that you went to?

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