I saw this print in the window of a charity shop in Worcester Park about eight years ago. It was a Sunday and the shop was closed. I was either walking to or from my aunt’s house. I asked Mumward if she could buy it for me the next day when the shop opened as I had work the next day and wouldn’t be around. I was quite nervous, convinced someone else would swoop in and nab it first. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and so for the last few years, it has been hanging on the wall of my old bedroom (I’ve never quite found space for it in my own flat).

At first glance, the scene looks quite straightforward. The guy posing next to his car as he chats up a waitress. But there a number of elements which don’t really make sense.

It doesn’t really look like there’s anything in those cups for one thing. And the angle she’s holding the tray looks a little precarious. Those cups are liable to slide off at any minute, spilling their contents (if they contain anything that is) everywhere. Of course, she isn’t really a waitress; she’s a model. She isn’t really taking those drinks to a customer, they are just props. So perhaps it’s not surprising they’ve used empty cups.

Similarly, the cigarette the guy has between his lips doesn’t seem to be lit.

That’s a very interesting outfit he’s wearing. It seems to be a sort of velour tracksuit with a giant picture of Bing Crosby’s face printed on the front. I’ve never seen a tracksuit like that in Topman, but if I did see one, I would definitely buy it. It’s incredible.

I can understand why she’s wearing roller skates. She’s a carhop:

Usually the car hops worked on foot but sometimes used rollerskates. The popularity of movies such as American Graffiti and shows like Happy Days created a misconception of carhops as exclusively roller skaters.

Carhops originated in the late 1930s when drive-in eateries were devised to draw in a more mobile society. It started as pull up service to drug stores and eating establishments and was found to be a very effective way to draw customers. The name “carhop” came from the practice of the waitress or waiter jumping up on the running board of a patron rolling into the parking lot. This car hopping showed that this particular car was that servers car, as tips were the main income of these waiters and waitresses. Women replaced male carhops as restaurants discovered that a pretty face sold more food.

But, presumably, that’s his car. Why is he wearing roller skates?

According to his website, Francis Giacobetti is:

an aesthete with a compassionate regard for others. With his restless curiosity he has found strong visual metaphors for the physical and metaphysical mysteries that ultimately define all human existence.

He also directed Emmanuelle 2.

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