How, you might ask, does one acquire a two-thousand dollar friend…and Why? I don’t know how most people do it, but I can tell you the how for me. Most likely it is not even something that is normally done, but we are talking about me here! As far as investments go, I must say, it was one of the best investments I ever made.
That being said, it is kind of awkwardly embarrassing to talk about. I first met my two thousand dollar friend at a modeling and acting class. What!?! Yes, I know, doesn’t sound like me at all; but there it is, all splayed out for the world to see. I sort of figure that normal people (there we go again…) do not willingly sign themselves up to take modeling and acting classes…. well not when they are forty-one years old, and essentially non-model-like, and Knoxville is the largest metropolis they will most likely inhabit. Go figure!
Taking this class would not have been something I would have ever considered on my own. I am waaayyyy not that girl. My mom’s cousin really wanted me to participate in this class and have this experience. She’d seen an ad in the newspaper about auditions for plus-size models and actors; and she was ding-dang-dong-determined that I was going to audition. I told her, “No, no way, no how, not gonna happen, no.” multiple times. Between she and my mom, they finally convinced me to, at least, go and check out the initial audition/interview process.
If you think talking about this is awkward and embarrassing, the actual showing up at the location was beyond this wallflower’s level of comprehension! We were herded into a ballroom containing a runway surrounded by chairs. It was a crowded room, filled with mostly tweens, teens and younger twenties – AND their parent(s). Then they started calling names to come up to the runway. Seriously?! (In front of everyone?) Once on the runway, we were to do “the walk” and perform a short monologue that they had handed us as we walked in the door. As I sat there and watched this endless progression of whippersnappers parade before me, I kept asking myself, “What in the name of all that is mercy am I doing here?”
After what seemed like an agonizingly long duration, they called my name. I put on my best, “I’ve done this a thousand times.” face, and hopped up on that runway. Remember from a previous post, my dad named me Matilda and not Grace. So, I poised myself at the back of that runway at which point I think my mind went blank. I awkwardly, seriously awkwardly, did the walk, and ended up at the end of the runway. After a couple of twirls and spins and batting of the eyelashes, I planted myself there and performed my monologue from the TV show, Friends. Once finished, with sanity returning, I looked the judges in the eye, smiled, dived off the stage and escaped out the door – expecting to never hear from them again.
Ahhhh, but they called. After all, it was a business and I had an excellent credit rating.
Out of that crazy, crowded room that day, they selected about twenty, I think, for our particular class. I think there was only one young lady under eighteen, some twenties, thirties and a couple of forties. The mix was a lot older than I figured. You could pretty much look at them and see good credit scores oozing out their pores (or their momma’s pores, as the case may be!) Nonetheless, whatever brought us there, there we were.
The first time we assembled together as a class, we were taken back to that same room with the runway in the center. Initially we all sat around and did a “get to know you” session so they could learn a little about us and see what our interests were and where we wanted to go with the modeling/acting thing. We all stood and congregated around the walls (and I thought I was the only wallflower – NOT!) Yep, the walls that day had sticky paper on them. No one wanted to release that hold and be out front and center. What we were to do at this point was a saunter down that runway. They were assessing our stage presence. They wanted to gauge where we stood (or how we stood, as the case may be). They encouraged us for someone, anyone, to just jump up there and go…jump up and go….come on ladies. No one was moving a muscle. No one wanted to be first. I was standing close to the runway stage, with one person between me and the platform. I sort of nudged her and said, “She’ll go first.” The LOOK I got at that moment was priceless; but she was a sport. She jumped right up on the stage and got the ball rolling. As I was standing next to her, my goading her onward meant that I was next.
Since we were first, after the ordeal, we sat down together. After she thanked me <wink> <wink> for practically shoving her onto the stage, we laughed about it and started talking and getting to know each other. We found that we both worked for the University, we had a lot of the same interests, we had a lot in common and somehow an instant bond formed between the two of us. My new friend was a petite little thing, with a welcoming smile. and mischievous, sparkly eyes Just looking at us, we seemed total opposites: opposites in looks, me closer to six feet tall, with dark hair and she skimming that five foot mark with blonde hair; opposites in age, I was eleven years older than she was; and opposites in marital status, I was single and she was married. We found, though, once we started talking, that we had much in common. So thus began our modeling and acting journey together.
Our exploits are too numerous to recount with the amount of “blog space” that I use each week. (I’m sure I’m pushing it this week!) I have to admit that the cousin was right; although I was skeptical going in, I did learn a lot and it was a very positive experience. I gained a confidence that I had never, ever possessed before; and I found that correct posture, the simple act of straightening my spine with shoulders back and head up could bring a grace and assurance that I would have never acquired otherwise. Plus, it gave me one of my closest friends and someone that will always be a very special person in my life.
Our friendship from that point has so many moments: We immediately started practicing our modeling outside of class. Although we were both a little older than the norm, once we signed up for the gig, we took it very seriously. We laughed so much during that time. We have many lasting memories. She never says the words, “Be careful.” (private joke) We both know where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. We were talking to each other on the phone. We have both lost loved ones that were dear to us and we have been there for each other. We have gone through family traumas and had someone to go to that would understand. We have gone through job transitions and job loss. We have both had medical situations that put us on our knees for our selves and for each other. Through it all, even though we do not always talk every day, or even every week or month, our friendship is cemented. I call it a friendship through the Spirit. When God’s Spirit rests on you and the same Spirit rests upon your friend, the bond is steadfast and constant. Even though you don’t see each other every day, the Spirit cements the bond and the friendship is sustained.
I suppose the story that does have to be told (and I can’t believe I’m going there) is the time that we decided to do our own photo shoot at her house in an effort to practice for our actual photo shoot. (Yes, there ARE pictures, and NO they will never, I repeat, never, ever be revealed!) Oh, we had prepared well. We had cameras, tripods, light reflectors; she had a white wall in her house that we amped up a with a white king size sheet. OK, so we had the background. (Who knew that stark white was not really the best choice though?) We had the classic daytime and evening wardrobe (as outlined in the Model Handbook, of course). We had sports wear, casual wear, business wear, lounge wear, and even swim wear. Ah, swim wear, thus when the hilarity begins!
We had gone through all of our different wardrobe choices, while changing hair, makeup and accessories along the way. Heck, we even played with some funky wigs! We kept putting off and putting off the actual swimsuit portion of our photo shoot. Were we really going to do this? We poked around in the garage for a bit, looked through some cook books and photo albums, and even stopped for lunch (Reuben sandwiches – yes, real professionals… Reuben sandwiches before we donned the swimwear?) and stalled as long as we possibly could. Eventually, we bit the bullet and changed into our swimwear choices. Here we are, two grown women (of a certain age), in our swimsuits, standing in the middle of her dining room (well, technically the side of her dining room), trying our best to pose professionally for swimsuit photos. Oh yes, that alone was pretty hilarious. The topper for the day was when, in the middle of her shooting my pictures, in the front door walks her husband! Seriously?! Oh man! Talk about awkward and embarrassing! The look on his face was probably worth the cost of both of our tuitions! He knew that we were doing our little mini photo shoot that day, but I am sure he probably thought we would be long finished before he came through his front door to my, white, white, white body in a black swimsuit in his dining room. We just never speak of it around him!
We really did have fun with our modeling and acting careers and enjoyed going around town doing various event fashion shows. We did a few gas station gigs where we handed out candy or sports drinks. We even auditioned for a pretty significant play that was being held at the Bijou Theater. My lack of experience is what lost me the part. But, at least we stepped out and did things that we would have never considered before. I signed with a talent agency in Memphis who sent me all around Knoxville dressed as a twenty dollar bill. She actually got a Kroger commercial. Yes, we both gained some value from this twenty week course that we each paid over two thousand dollars for. I gained a solid, self-assurance that I had not possessed before, and I gained one of my closest friends. As our friendship grew throughout the years and our interest in modeling and acting faded, we didn’t really mind. We laughed about the cost and started calling each other our two thousand dollar friend. She is forever V2K to me and I am her E2K.
I told you the “how” of acquiring a two thousand dollar friend, but as I see it, the “why” is simply because God had a plan for a very special friendship, and I gratefully thank Him for that blessing, as I lift her name to Him each day!
You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (CEV)