Tuesday, June 26, 2012


3:45 p.m.: “I have a date tonight, so talk me up when she arrives,” I say to other “models” at the Cure by Design fashion show last Friday.

“I already follow you on Facebook, and I already talk a lot, so I’ll make you sound great,” MamaJ, another model, says.

I continue chatting with some models who I’ve never met and some who I partied with at 2011’s Cure by Design. Ashy and P-Sky were as goofy as last year. The three of us burn the path for [insert famous male model name here because I can’t name one] et al.

5:45 p.m.: I walk with Ashy to meet his wife since guests aren’t allowed to mingle with the models yet, and cocktails don’t start until 6:30. This reminds me to tell my date not to arrive at 6:00, as I previously mentioned. “Let me know if you’re here early and I’ll sneak you in or something,” I text her.

7:00 p.m.: The male models discuss our five-second poses. The other childhood wrestling fan and I suggest we enter as D-Generation X—me as HBK and him HHH—and pose with the “Suck It” gesture. The crowd would love us; the event coordinator not so much.

7:10 p.m.: I decide on my pose, but in order to enact it I’m going to need some juice. The kind that ends with odka.

7:28 p.m.: “Hey, were you still planning to come? I’ll stop telling people I have a date if not,” I text.

7:48 p.m.: Another text: “So I’m walking in 20 minutes. If you don’t want to hang out anymore then I’d be disappointed, but regardless it would be beneficial to know. I’d actually be impressed that you bailed on me for such a big event haha.”

8:06 p.m.: I strut onto the stage in front of the fanatical crowd as “I’m Too Sexy” plays. Despite the blazing lights, I make out a sea of smiles and claps. I slowly walk the runway, smiling, waving, searching. I think I glimpse my date going apeshit for me! Nah, someone else.

I reach the end and prepare to pose. I slide off my jacket and transfer it to my left arm as I reach for my tucked-in polo with my right. I begin lifting my shirt. Halfway up, I let go and make a cutting gesture to the crowd. What a tease. I can’t help but smirk. I shuffle back, grab my rose, and toss it towards a random woman in the crowd.

Date or not, I am a rockstar in this moment, when two-hundred people applaud and scream because I am a cancer survivor, and an author, performer, clothes-wearer, inspirer. They cheer for me.

Modeling Eddie Bauer at American Cancer Society's Cure by Design charity fashion show in Washington, DC
Modeling Eddie Bauer at American Cancer Society's Cure by Design 2012, at the Ronald Reagan  Building & International Trade Center. Photo courtesy of Jason Dixson Photography

My friend, Sec-Z-Bec, wears much jewelry, but never adorns a piece that lacks meaning. I share that sentiment, and besides watches I’ve never worn jewelry. On the last day of our First Descents rock-climbing trip, the survivors were given baci bracelets, from the Laotian culture. It is a belief in Laos that pieces of ourselves get lost, and the baci bracelets bring those pieces back to make us whole again.

Lings needed to feel whole again: four days after our baci ceremony she had her ovaries and appendix removed. Her cancer has returned and she is going back on chemo, this time indefinitely. Lings is the brightest of rockstars.

I didn’t think I needed the baci bracelet because I had never felt more whole. I was healthy, strong, happy, and swelled with superesteem. But, as I am learning, those aren’t the whole of me. I learned on my trip that I should never again feel the need to justify the pieces of myself. I learned something similar last Friday.

This year I’ve met girls at speaking gigs, my First Descents trip and even Cure by Design who seem to appreciate the whole of me. I now understand that some people don’t, which is ok. I cannot will them to appreciate me, nor do I want to. I’m wasting time even dwelling on it. Surely I have neglected to appreciate the whole in others, as well.

As soon as I exited the stage my date texted me an explanation and a deeply sincere apology. I do not resent her regardless of which organic/inorganic me she sees. She helped me find one of my lost pieces. My baci bracelet will eventually fall off, but I will always be open to learning more with one exception: how to be an actual model. I like the Cure by Design method better.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Hippy. I was terrified that they'd cut my baci bracelet off in surgery - I was ready to explain that it had spiritual significance and that they'd just have to ignore a piece of dirty string around my wrist in the operating room! But it was still there when I woke up. I think I checked for it before I even asked whether I still had a uterus.

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Lings, maybe it's best you didn't mention "baci bracelet" ahead of time because, after reading your comment, "bacteria bracelet" stuck in my head. Awesome that it's still there, though.

Also, that is the most hilarious uteri comment yet. I feel it is necessary to share this with the whole FD group.

Catherine said...

Awesome post – I just found your blog but look forward to following along. Way to swagger down that runway. : )

Benjamin Rubenstein said...

Thanks! I'll take "swagger" or any other term so long as its not "trip." That was surely on my mind.