Cathy Hamilton: I still get the discount, right?
“We’re having a fashion show, and we’d like you to participate,” the organizer said over the phone.
“Really?! I’m … uh … flattered,” my mouth replied aloud, seemingly on its own accord.
Inside my brain, the response was completely different.
“Has this woman lost her ever-lovin’ mind?!?” it said, silently. “Do I look like Claudia Schiffer to her? Has she seen my waist lately? Heck, has anyone seen my waist? Because, if you have, please send me its precise location by ZIP code, street address or longitude/latitude. I have GPS on my new smart phone, and I’d love to find it.”
“It’s on Saturday, the 24th,” the woman continued. “I hope you’re free.”
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
“This is so out-of-the-question, the whole phone call is questionable,” my brain argued, though no one but me could hear. “In fact, I question the sincerity of the very question. Is this an April Fools’ joke?!?”
I checked the calendar. April 1 had come and gone.
“Well,” I said, sheepishly. “I’m not sure if I …”
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she interrupted, no doubt sensing my resistance, “and the proceeds go to a great cause.”
“That’s just peachy,” my brain continued, cynically. “Everyone knows the ‘Just Say No’ rule doesn’t apply to charities. You can say ‘no’ to dinner invitations or a sales call for aluminum siding, but you can’t say no to a great cause, even if it means humiliating yourself on a makeshift runway in front of your peers!”
“It’s a luncheon, and there’ll be a cash bar,” she added.
The booze bait. Obviously, the woman had been doing her homework.
“That sounds fun,” I replied, audibly. “But I don’t know …”
“We’ve got four great stores involved,” the organizer explained.
“Clothing stores? As in ‘go shopping’? No freaking way!” my cerebellum bellowed. “News flash: For a 50-something woman, clothes shopping is hell on earth. Nothing fits like it used to. The styles you want to wear look better on your daughter and the styles they want you to wear are grandma clothes.”
“And don’t get me started on dressing rooms without mirrors! When did this become a good idea in retail?
“How I loathe those pushy sales people and their sneaky tactics: ‘I knew that puce jacket would look great with the sweet pea skirt, if you just tried it on. Now, you just need the shimmery cami and the faux turquoise statement necklace to complete the look …’
“Do you think Christie Brinkley ever had to put up with that nonsense? Non-Billy Joel nonsense, that is?
Clearly, my brain was on a tirade, but the poor woman was still waiting for an answer.
“Listen, I’m really flattered,” my mouth finally uttered. “But I’m just not comfortable doing the fashion model thing. I know I come off as a confident and assertive woman but, believe me, it’s all an act.
“Deep down, I’ve got more than a few unresolved body issues. It’s what bonds me for life to Oprah. I’ve been working on it, lately … fighting the battle of the bulge … reading all those ‘How Not to Look Old’ books. So, I suppose I could take a lap on the runway with intense pre-show psychotherapy and an all-black ensemble, especially if the models will be getting a significant discount …”
My mouth was rambling now.
“… and since it is for a great cause, and you were so nice to ask — what the heck? — I guess I can play Tyra Banks for a day, right?”
The voice on the other end of the line fell silent. Then …
“That’s very gracious,” the organizer said, “but we want you to narrate the show, not model.”
“What the what!??” my brain cried.
“Oh …” I stammered. “As in describe what the models are wearing from behind a large concealing podium?”
“Something like that,” the woman replied.
“OK,” my mouth answered, admittedly stung. “But I still get the discount, right?”
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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:45 p.m. to include a response from the Bureau of Land Management’s national office.