A Lesson in Humility: Episode One
It’s nice to hear stories about your friends doing well. People booking movies, starting clothing companies, moving up in the corporate ladder, etc. These little tidbits of personal news are generally accompanied by a sense of humility, a sensitivity to the listener, or, at the very least, a good English-humoured self-deprecating joke. One shares their good fortune with grace and humility. One saves tales of triumph for good friends, as these are the people who are obligated to give a shit or fake it with gusto.
Of course it doesn’t always happen according to the laws of good taste and manners. Some people never learned how to break away from “Show and Tell Syndrome” as I like to call it. Surely, I was not immune to this as a child. Every Friday in third grade I got up there on the brown linoleum floor, standing in front of rows of uncomfortable desks filled with fidgety children, and I would proceed to attempt my greatest MC Hammer inspired dance. This was without fail my favorite move. It involved jumping from one leg to the other, with the heel of the non-weight bearing foot pointed toward the ceiling. I would do this back and forth for a few minutes until I became tired. I would stop, students would clap, and I awaited my chance to do it again in a week. I can’t vouch for myself and say that I was good at it. In fact, I was probably pretty damn bad. But each student was given a platform to use and I used and abused it.
Years of ungodly adolescent insecurity followed by vaguely normal adult social interaction allowed for me to hone a pretty decent sense of when and what people might care to hear about my own life. Boring: the type of orange juice you drink in the morning, the plants your mom grows in her backyard, other people’s dreams (although I disagree with this). Worth sharing: banging Tommy Lee, getting into law school, grandparents kicking the bucket. Occasionally we all mess up, telling practical strangers about the Lanvin shoes you bought the other day or how good your roasted brussels sprouts were last night. But these hiccups are unavoidable and all in the spirit of filling the vast uncomfortable holes in bad conversation with people you don’t really know well enough to ignore for five minutes without feeling like an asshole.
In regards to jobs in this industry, girls are generally pretty modest, at least the ones who have been around awhile. And honestly, the Los Angeles market isn’t a platform for supermodel stardom so any job is ultimately a money job, not a career bellwether. So the filler jobs that allow us to maintain our occupational status as models (runway shows for Orange County philanthropic housewives, informal modeling in suburban shopping malls, fitting clothes for the “real” models in New York) go thankfully unannounced amongst the ladies. The lack of talent and skills required to perform this job makes it difficult when it comes to patting your comrades on the back. Somehow “Oh, hey, nice job standing there!” or “Congratulations on your face!” seems a bit needless.
So when a girl I was working with today randomly interjects something about her experience as the trophy presenter at the Academy Awards on two different occasions, both of which being uncalled for, I wanted to hit her on the head. The conversation was something similar to the following:
Makeup Artist: “This friend of mine is a pastry chef in La Jolla and…”
Model: “One time I made ice cream with Mario Batali.”
Makeup Artist: “Ummm…”
Model: “Uh huh. Mario Batali. And I accidentally stuck my whole fist in the bowl! And I was like, ‘Mario…'”
I could have attempted to understand the braggart had the Oscars been the night before and the excitement still fresh and new and barely washed off. I’m sure it was exciting to be around that many Hollywood heavy weights, but the only weight she was carrying that night was that of a three pound duchess ballgown and those ten pound statues. Today is May 6th, the Oscars were February 22nd, and by my math this falls into the “Nobody gives a shit anymore” category. Forgive my curtness, but perhaps I am bitter that I gave up my MC Hammer routine thinking that my peers were doing the same.