There are girls sitting against the walls in dusty corners. The few chairs that inhabit the lobby (if you can call it a lobby) are already occupied by tiny asses (if you can call them asses) or Celine bags. I scan the room for a sign-in sheet, which there surely is one judging from the lacking undercurrent of anxiety that generally accompanies a potential for rule breaking and lawlessness. Take my unmarked, unnumbered place, bitch, and I will cut you! No, there is definitely order in this room. An order of the very bored kind.
I sign in.
I push an aforementioned Celine bag to the center of a bench so I can sit down and rest my weary bones. Everyone in here looks like they’re starting hour five of driving school so I imagine I’ll be here for the rest of the afternoon if that serves as any accurate indication. May as well get comfortable.
“Number 72, 73, and 74.”
Some bland, porridge-looking girl calls out the numbers we have since traded our given names for upon entering the room. “You can change now,” she instructs.
The “change” in question is the removal of our winter/spring 2012 garments and into something, you know, a little more comfortable…i.e. their lingerie. It wouldn’t have been enough to have simply asked all the models to show up in their own adorable, purchased-for-boys-but-now-have-to-wear-in-public bra and panty sets, not an unreasonable request given the girl they hire will likely not be required to have lumps in any places but the right ones. No, they want to see us in their undies, their bras, of which there are only three sets in total.
As I stare at the backside of Number 74, noting the way in which the stretchy white fabric has begun to wrench its way into the crevice of her (surprisingly ample) ass, I calculate some figures.
91/3 = 30.3
Okay, so 30.3 vaginas will have been pressed against whatever pair of underwear I am so lucky to be handed some three hours from now. Granted, everyone (dear god, please, everyone) is keeping their little g-strings on underneath, but there’s a reason Victoria Secret doesn’t let you try on underwear, little protective plastic crotch patch be damned.
30.3 x .25 = 7.57
That’s the number of girls standing in this room – statistically speaking – who are likely infected with some sexually transmitted disease.
How many minutes I will need to pretend I haven’t done these various calculations in my head while I wait, standing half-naked in front of a room full of pretty girls while some aging photographer dude with an ambiguously foreign accent turns pages of another model’s portfolio with an E X C R U T I A T I N G slowness until it’s my turn for him to do the same. Oh, joy. Lucky me.
The number of minutes I’ve been here by the time they get to the next three girls.
“Number 75, 76, 77.”
I’ve already contemplated an exit, but I have recently discovered the British gentleman with the salt-and-pepper hair manning a laptop in the corner. “Hey, Thomas?” someone asks him. He’s British and his name is Thomas and I like his hair. I decide to give this thing a few more minutes.
A girl I know from Los Angeles comes in and sits down next to me, the owner of the Celine handbag having already left and taken her $3,000 leather tote with her.
“How long have you been here?” she asks.
“Who the fuck knows…my whole life?”
We talk about her haircut. We talk about my old haircut. We talk about apartments in Roosevelt City vs. apartments in the West Village. When we run out of things to talk about, we both tend to our respective cell phones.
Another girl I know from LA comes in.
“How long have you been here?”
“Have you been back to LA recently?”
“No, I wish.”
Like most casting conversations, this one extinguishes quickly as well, a flash-fire of feeling generally human for a moment or two until you begin to more wholly devote your attention to the anticipation of the ultimate moment of dehumanization, a reality that is clearly presented itself as I make judgments in my head about the new crop of girls standing half-naked in front of me. Bow-legged, she looked better with clothes on. Big arms, are models allowed to have big arms? Wonderful ass, I wonder what she does!
I’ve been here almost an hour. Thomas still hasn’t looked my direction. Girls begin to lose patience and walk quietly out a glass door. And as I watch Number 82 sit down, cross her legs, and get otherwise nice and cozy with her new pair of underwear (which, I may as well presume will be my pair of underwear) while she chit chats on her iPhone like this lobby were her living room, I realize that I’m too old for this shit – this assumption that I’m too dim to acknowledge the shared-crotch space and extremely unwanted intimacy, the wasted time vs. potential income earned, the generalized inconsiderate nature of what we are being asked to do – and, like a big girl, I gather my things, put on my coat, and walk right out the door.
Score 1: Team Dignity.