I was once a starry-eyed teenager with hopes and aspirations in 1999! I felt like I could do ANYTHING- create a funky jewelry line, lift a car with my newfound pre-pubescent supply of angst-driven adrenaline, be a sweater model in a fun J.Crew catalogue…I mean, seriously, how hard could it possibly be to be a successful J. Crew catalogue model? TONS of teens my age seemed to be hanging out in fields with footballs and laying by a lake with their Jansport’s- surely I also had a face for sweaters and Jansport’s!
So I went ahead and spent all of my babysitting money on one fancy and surprisingly very warm J. Crew sweater. Then, I babysat for 11 more weeks non-stop so I could afford to have fancy commercial shots taken in the new VERY EXPENSIVE and surprisingly warm sweater! Sure, the shoot was in July, but even though I had never TECHNICALLY acted before, I still considered myself a real method actor- I WAS going to wear a sweater while walking on jagged rocks in an ocean during a heat wave! But then, something even more devastating than dying of a heat stroke in an overpriced J. Crew sweater happened- I received my beloved J. Crew catalogue in the mail to find that the cast of a newly popular show called Dawson’s Creek took over MY beloved magazine. Now, I didn’t know who these adults dressed like kids sitting on ladders and in boats were, but THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ME!
At first, I panicked and ate a tub of vanilla ice cream (as, at the time, I assumed all people who invest time and energy in J. Crew catalogues do), but then I thought- W.W.A.L.D.? I’m certain you know this refers to Anouck Leper, J. Crew Teen God. Anyway, back to the “Creek Geeks”- this was just one issue, maybe a special W.B. sponsorship thing, so I took my panic down from Level 10.9 to a Level 6 and didn’t cancel my photo shoot. The next week, I was off in my parent’s van forcing them to pump the AC all the way up (I was already wearing said sweater- METHOD ACTING) on my way to Ocean City to meet a recent N.Y.U. grad who was charging me $600 for headshots.
Needless to say, after a make-up person I paid an extra $100 for made me look like I had no makeup on- per J.Crew’s style- and a hair stylist I paid an additional $75 for put my hair in a ponytail and then took it down and brushed it out because I don’t have a face for ponytails, I channeled every J. Crew Ad I’d ever glued my eyeballs to. I looked casually to one side as my hair blew in the wind, and then looked casually to the other side as a crossed my arms suggesting a fall breeze in the 102-degree weather. In those two moments, I knew I’d cinched a prestigious spot in my beloved J. Crew catalogue because it was still mostly normies like me and not W.B. teen sensations NOR teens who were professional models.
I developed the photos, had my best sweater-shots made into 8 by 10 glossy photos, fashioned a USPS parcel box to look like a canoe because I thought J. Crew would be super into it, lit my 5 candles in front of my J. Crew shrine, sent off an old catalogue in a Viking funeral fashion because it seemed like it’d bring good juju and secure my spot as a J. Crew model, and then waited! I knew I had it in the bag. Weeks and weeks passed without me getting any snail-mail from J. Crew besides these CATALOGUES THAT STILL HAD THE CAST OF DAWSON’S CREEK ON THEM! 18 years later,and I’m still wearing that same sweater, sitting by the mail every day and hoping that I get delivered the great news that J. Crew wants me to be their next big model, and NOT just another catalogue with the now 30-something cast members of Dawson’s Creek on it. I still haven’t given up, and WILL WAIT FOREVER, Paula Cole.