Many years ago, before Wifefish and I started dating, I was a male model for a day. I took several strolls down a runway, doing my little turn on the catwalk.
It was a full-on soiree, thrown by a group of clothing shops but led by the owner of one in particular, a place called “Sassy Boutique.” Said owner was a tiny little thing, with a great deal of attitude.
I feel this tale deserves a bit more preamble, lest I get put on some mailing list somewhere. I am one of the least racist people I know, and I’ve worked hard to become so. I do, however, recognize that there are slices of ethnic culture to which I am completely (perhaps even woefully) ignorant. This was one such event, as the attendance was 99% black, and I am 99.9% not.
My involvement came about innocently enough; my girlfriend at the time was working at a Tuxedo shop, and they had been invited to participate in this show. They needed menfolk. Being the proud owner of my very own penis, I met their qualifications and was asked, nay begged, to help out. I thought “Why the hell not?” It was perhaps not the hell my best thought.
We met at one of the ritzy downtown hotels, ready to do our thing. We got dressed and checked out the room. There was a catwalk set up, with stairs near the doorway to the “dressing room”, a smaller room that was filled with clothing racks a-plenty. A buffet of hors d’oeuvres was laid out, and a photographer was set up in one corner to take pictures of the guests. The event started an hour late, because every attendee got their pictures taken by the photographer. I was informed, quite seriously, that this is a "black thing". I do not know if this is true, or if my leg was pulled. (woeful, I tell you.)
There were tables set up with representatives of all the different shops, at which one could presumably set up appointments for fittings, shoppings, and the like. Some were in the room, some were outside in the hallway. One of the tables in the hall was staffed by very dour looking gentlemen in pinstriped suits. Brows furrowed deeply, they resembled pissed off versions of Sam the Eagle. A quick glimpse of their table card revealed to me that they were representing the Nation of Islam, which explained the giant portrait of Louis Farrakhan they had on the table. We headed back to the main room and got to “work”.
Blue feathery power, muthafuckas!
Sadly, the owner of the Sassy Boutique also served as the MC, reading off of note cards the names of the different models and fashions presented. She used the word “sassy” approximately 86,437 times. And had a slight lisp. “Ssasssssy. Thiss dresss is sso very, verrry ssassssy. Remember, when you look Ssassssy, you are ssexy. Ssasssy boutique, for when you want to be sssso, sssso Sssaasssssy.”
I went hither and yon in my tux, escorting models from the door to the runway. I made a game of counting the number of times I heard “Sassy”. Eventually, I took my trip down the catwalk.
I strode purposely, in my best military stride. I reached the end of the catwalk, and put one hand in a pocket, like countless Sears catalog models before me. I turned smartly around, and headed to the back of the runway. My tuxedo was described as…you guessed it…”Sassy.”
Boy...Dangerboy. That's shaken, not stirred.
At one point I found myself in the hallway, perusing the vendor tables there. My timing must have been inspired by divine intervention, as I was able to witness a truly fascinating exchange.
An older lady that looked like Fran Drescher’s mom from “The Nanny” had wandered in, resplendent in a turquoise sweatsuit, 10 inches of hair, and about a 3/8 inch layer of makeup, artfully applied with a trowel. She obviously wasn’t part of the event. As I wandered past the Black Power Presenters of the Nation of Islam, I saw her pick up one of the bean pies they were selling. (It’s a Nation of Islam thing...go ahead, google it. I'll be here when you get back. Back? Ok, let's continue.)
“Are these pumpkin piiiiiiies?” she droned, most of the sound bouncing endlessly in her sinus passages like echoes in the mountains.
The voice that broke the Alps.
“No ma’am.” A sharp response, delivered with dismissal.
“Are you suuure, they look like pumpkin piiiiies.” Her voice could have been used as a cheese grater.
“They’re bean, ma’am.” His eyebrows came together and seemed to harden, and if he'd glowered any harder she would have spontaneously combusted on the spot.
“Are you suuuure, it’s almost Thanksgiiivingk, and they look like pumpkin. I just love pumpkin piiiiiees.” She seemed truly oblivious.
At this point, the guy assumed a sloppy parade rest and shut his mouth, pasting an even deeper scowl on his face. He ignored her for another long minute before she finally shuffled off, all the while lamenting the lack of pumpkin pie.
Finally, the end of the Sassy Day arrived, and I trundled into the dressing room to shed tux for something more comfortable. Unfortunately, this appeared to be a sin in the eyes of one of the models, the super plus sized gal with a super plus sized attitude problem, who exploded into a tirade.
“What the hell is this scrawny white boy doin’ in here? I don’ need him lookin’ at mah bidness!” She continued in this vein for quite some time, repeating the phrase “mah bidness” as if to rival the sassiness of the day. She had truly embraced the sass.
I had actually been keeping my eyes to myself, and looking at the floor and my own clothes. It bears mentioning that her “bidness” was quite uninteresting. I’ve heard of “cankles”, but she had a “feck.”* (You can decide if that is face-neck or fucking train wreck.)
My girlfriend stepped up in the middle of her tirade, complete with neck wobble and finger snap. “He’s not into your business, dear, he’s leaving with me if you’ll shut your whore mouth.” She was met with applause from the other models.
We made our way out of the hotel, away from the rarified airs, and had a fine McDonald’s dinner. I looked her straight in the eye, smiled slowly, and said “I think my modeling days are over.”
I haven’t modeled since, but I’ve had some other adventures. And surely, to this day, I still shudder when I hear the word “sassy.”
*I’d like to thank my friend Ruffstuff for the coinage of the word "feck".