Saturday, July 28, 2007

father knows best

i was trying to think about contract disputes i have heard about or been involved with. what springs to mind occurred about twenty-five years ago. my eleven year old son wanted one of those hand held computer games that were new to the market. i drew up a contract and made him sign it. basically, the main clause in the contract stipulated that if adam stopped biting his nails for two months, the computer game was his. since he proceeded to chomp on his digits just minutes after the ink was dry, all bets were off. that is probably why, to this day, nike does not carry an adam sadowsky football jersey, basketball shoes or lunch boxes.

going even further back in time brings us up to the summer of my seventeenth year. i was in saks fifth avenue shopping for college clothing when a man approached me in the cosmetics department. he tapped me on the shoulder and said "you have beautiful hands". "thank you" i answered, still young enough to be flattered and not frightened by a strange man's compliment. "No, i really mean it, those hands are beautiful. you could model" with that, he handed me his card. now, you have to understand that back then, in the days of twiggy, the three words this 5 foot 2 inch woman with a 36 c chest, never thought she would hear was "you could model". he asked me for my name and address and with stars in my eyes, i gave it to him.

in less than a week, a contract arrived in the mail. he was for real. i was going to be a star. i showed my parents the contract and since i was under age, i needed them to sign it. my father, ever the business man, read every single word of the contract. i was holding my breath and then i heard it "wait a minute - what's this"? there was a clause that said that under no circumstances, while under contract to this modeling agency, could i use my hands for any other activity than modeling. that was fine with me. i had no great dreams of becoming a professional dishwasher, ditch digger or potter. "what about typing"? my father asked. "what about it"? (this being years before i found myself failing typing tests, again and again , in an effort to secure employment). the thought that i could never type while under contract was the deal breaker. despite my tears and threats of suicide, my parents held firm. my modeling career was over before it even began. i went off to college as, not even a has been, but a never was.

i didn't think about my modeling career until a few years later. the husband and i had just returned from our honeymoon when the husband asked me, "now that we are back to real life, what are you planning to do"? "do? what do you mean do"? "you know" he responded, "like in a job. we can't afford to live on my salary alone". "oh" i answered. i hadn't given that part of marriage much thought. i was still trying to get used to the fact that when i left our apartment in the morning and came home in the afternoon, the bed was still not made.

the next day, i wracked my brain to come up with something i could do that would actually pay me a salary. and then i remembered my hands. it had only been a few years since my modeling offer - i was still a young woman. i would make my fortune as a model. i couldn't remember the name of the agent who first approached me but no problem, i just looked up modeling agencies in the yellow pages, picked the one closest to home and took myself over there.

The six foot tall, eighty-five pound receptionist barely looked up when i approached her desk. "can i help you"? she asked. "yes. i am here to become a model". i could see the look of disbelief in her eyes so i quickly added "hand model. i am here to be a hand model". she smiled. not a friendly smile. "have a seat please". i sat and waited and waited and waited. finally, after about forty-five minutes another anorexic, amazon came out from behind a closed door and approached me.

"how can i help you"? she asked, focusing about a foot and a half over my head. i repeated exactly what i had told the receptionist about an hour ago. "Oh" she said with pursed lips, "i'm sorry. our models are equipped to model everything". with that she looked me up and down and up again. "if you know what i mean". she then turned and walked out. i was crushed.

i can't help but wonder what would have happened if my father had signed that contract. i could have had my own line of hand care products by now or, i could have ended up like so many teenage stars. to think, my father probably save me from years of being stalked by the paparazzi and numerous stints in and out of rehab.

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