Monday, December 20, 2010

Here We Come A-Modeling!

After the experience in my last post, you would think I would have given up modeling. You would think.

A few weeks after the video fiasco, my phone rang (this was before caller ID) so I answered it. Before I could even say hello, the modeling manager said he had another job for me. It would be fun, I didn’t have to audition, and he needed my husband, too. Well, that last part certainly caught my interest. I said yes.

So, on a sunny October morning, we headed to the address. We were more than a little surprised that the location was a house. We were greeted by the photographer, who led us to a lower level room. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace and just to the left of the fireplace stood a completely decorated Christmas tree. Across the room was a free-standing wooden door, solid at the bottom, with small panes of glass in the top half. It had been propped up and the camera was on a tripod on the other side of the door. Before I had a chance to ask questions, the photographer’s assistant took us to another room, where our “wardrobe” was, provided by Dillards.  My husband’s outfit was a striped night shirt and dark blue knee length robe. I giggled when I saw it. Then she pulled mine out of the garment bag. I would have taken back the giggle if I could. Full length plaid flannel night gown and dark green chenille robe. Did I mention that it was seventy degrees that day?

The concept: family of four on Christmas morning. The children arrived, accompanied by their moms--boy, age seven or so, and girl, not a day over three. Really, I was going to be a mom of a three year old? I had a flashback to an incident that happened a week before...

My daughter had been hired to model western wear in a catalog. One of the outfits also came in adult sizes and the owner of the company wanted a mother-daughter photo. My daughter’s manager told him “Don’t worry, her mother's here.” He agreed to meet me. I walked in, and he asked me if I had any photos, which of course, I didn’t. He then told me to take a seat outside his door and he called the manager back in. I couldn't help but hear what they were saying. “She’s too old, we’ll go with someone else” was all I heard. I wanted to throw the door open and demand to know how I could be too old to be my own daughter’s mother! But instead, I slumped down in my chair deflated.  I drove to the location of the shoot and watched my daughter pose and smile at her new “mother” who I later found out was seventeen years old. I did the math. Her teenage mom would have given birth at the age of eight. Oddly, I felt better.

The children changed into pajamas and robes, and we were told where to stand. My husband stood in front of the fireplace with a coffee cup in one hand and his leg up on the hearth. The boy sat on the floor in front of him. I got to sit on the hearth and the little girl was going to be standing in front of me with my arms around her. Piece of cake, right? There were two things I was reminded about three year olds. They can’t stay in one place for long, and they don’t like to be held by strangers. We were in our poses for a good ten seconds before she burst out crying. I tried to comfort her and she looked at me like I was the boogie man. Her mother said soothing things to her from the sidelines, but she really wanted her mother to hold her. That went on for fifteen minutes. Did I mention I was wearing flannel and chenille and sitting less than a foot from the crackling fire? The photographer decided to shoot the photo while she was winding up for the next outburst. The only other direction we got was for my husband to take his foot off the hearth. I turned to look at him. Heehee. I’m sure he didn’t want my husband’s hairy leg in the photo and risk scaring small children. The photographer either got the shot he wanted or just gave up, but we were finally finished. As we drove away, I remember wondering what the photo was for, and if we would ever get to see it.

Two weeks before Christmas, it was a Sunday morning and we were sleeping in. The phone rang, but we let it go to voicemail. The phone rang again. And, again. Starting to wonder if it was the same person and something was wrong, I got up to check our messages. “Who was it?” my husband asked, as I listened to the third message. “Go get the paper” was all I could say. He handed me the Sunday edition of The Rocky Mountain News and I started ripping through the sections. OH MY GOD was all I could say when I got to a magazine section and the photo of us in our pajamas was on the cover. There we were, in all our flannel glory. The photo was taken through the panes of glass, as if to be peeking in on a family Christmas.  The first thing I noticed (no big surprise) was my hair, which had two inches of black roots. That was odd. I’ve heard a camera can add five pounds, but black roots? Next, I looked at my husband’s leg. They used a shot where his leg was on the hearth, but it was completely blackened out. Smart editing. The boy was holding a box that was not wrapped on the bottom, and the huge excitement on his face looked odd because he hadn’t opened the gift yet. The little girl had her hand on my knee and I hoped it wasn’t obvious that she was pushing my leg to get away. She was looking at her “real” mother and I was holding on tight so she couldn’t leave the shot. Great. It looked like I was abusing her.

The phone calls continued all day as friends and neighbors found us in the newspaper. “Is that really you?” was the question we heard the most. I wanted so badly to say “No, natural blondes don’t HAVE dark roots, and my husband has two legs, not just one.”

The newspaper insert was about ten pages long, advertising different stores at our local mall. We were so relieved when the commotion died down, and the ad with our photo was probably used to line birdcages, catch paint drips, and ignite logs. I was very happy to put that experience behind me, and I would live a happy life if I never saw that photo again.

Two days before Christmas, my husband and I decided to do some last minute shopping. We headed to the mall, found a parking space, and ran to the doors to escape the cold. There in front of us, as we entered the mall, was a poster size version of our photo. At the same time, we both groaned and pulled our coat collars up. It was everywhere--on the directory, hanging from the ceiling, outside the movie theater.

A few days after Christmas, my husband surprised me with two of the posters. I still run across them every once in awhile. That was the end of my modeling career. Most of it was fun, some was tough on my ego. Even if I get a call tomorrow, I’d have to say no. I don’t think I could take being told I’m too old to be a grandmother.

Happy holidays, everyone!


Susan Mangigian said...

This was very cute Elaine. Wishing you and your family the best holiday ever! xxoo Keep these coming, I really love to read them. Merry Christmas!

Elaine said...

Glad you enjoy! I'll keep writing them as long as my ex-husband doesn't file an injunction!
Merry Christmas to you!