Second-Class Model


what it’s normally like

Here we are, sitting in First Class, my third time in nearly two decades of flying. A friend and I are headed to the Dominican Republic for a little holiday, accompanied by her boyfriend who has graciously forked over the mileage points so that we could all be upgraded, lest this trip start on the wrong Bridesmaids-esque foot (“Help me; I’m poor” is a line that rings through my head, like, all the time). They have, for better or worse, adopted me as their own overgrown child, a rather costly expense with questionable benefit.

“Are you ladies heading down for work?” A flight attendant is leaning towards us in that subservient, prostrate way that they do when you’re in the fancier cabins.

A flight attendant is leaning towards us in that subservient, prostrate way that they do when you’re in the fancier cabins.

Work? If I was flying for work, I’d be crammed at the back in between crying babies and a broken lavatory. I’d have a connecting flight somewhere in Portland and then another one in Mexico City and some 45 hours later, I might make it to the cheap roadside motel an hour away from the beach where I’d be working for eight days in a row. And then, rung out like an old doll, I’d crawl back home with my tail between my legs and undergo selective amnesia until the paycheck came in. “That wasn’t so bad,” I’d think, and then I’d do it again.

“No,” we say in chorus, our voices bouncing against that low, curved plastic ceiling. It’s an understandable mistake, I guess, being that we’re both nearly six-feet tall and have that kind of expensive-looking hair that looks as though its been photographed blowing in fans more than a few times. But First Class? For work? I wish.

“We’ve got girls coming down aaaalllll the time,” she tells us, elongating her words in that casual, been-there-seen-that manner that lends her credibility. “Down in the morning and back at night sometimes. Beach shoots.” She passes us each a glass of champagne. It’s 3 p.m. I could get used to this. Then again, I could live without it.

Eva and I laugh and say we’re just going for vacation, but that yes, we are models. We don’t mention that neither of us were ever successful enough for that type of career, modeling bikinis on the Caribbean, getting drunk in First Class. I console myself and the awareness of my B-rate model existence with the knowledge that there aren’t that many supermodels who can say they’ve stayed in hotels with termite infestations, stood in a window on Rodeo Drive with Christmas lights in her hair, had to get naked in a public park for a couple hundred bucks because the designer “forgot the tarp or whatever.” Sure, they’ve got the cash and the rock stars, but I’ve got the stories. The really bad stories.

And anyway, as it turns out, I’ve been chasing the wrong dream this entire time: I should have been going after adoptive parents, not modeling. —Jenny Bahn

photo credit: Jenny Bahn

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