Alright, so I’ve been holding back like some seriously major news. My plan was to keep it secret until the next issue of the magazine came out, but you know how much trouble I have keeping my mouth shut. So before I overdose on adjectives, I am just going to come right out and say it: I am a supermodel. That’s right bitches. Text it, tweet it, facebook it; because yours truly will be appearing in the style section of the hottest gay magazine in town.
Now, I know what you’re asking yourself but the answer is no: I did not sleep with anyone. Unlike other jobs I have applied for, it was a pre-requisite for this position that I kept my clothes on. Ultimately I was chosen for a smorgasbord of reasons that included (but are not limited to) my personal panache, trend-setting wardrobe and heroic jaw-line. I was also the first person to text the editor back after one of the models dropped out.
“Rug Burn,” the editor emailed me. “Rock Banyon had to cancel last minute because he is going in for knee surgery next week. I am not surprised. Anyways, now I am one model short for a full-page fashion spread and that is where you come in. All you have to is dress gay and after seeing you out before, that shouldn’t be a problem. Shoot me back with any questions, if not Main and Waterfront next Thursday, four o’clock. Best, London.”
I was enthralled that my wardrobe was finally getting the recognition it deserved. I broke away from my laptop and knelt down in front of my wooden shoe rack. I patted my blue-suede Hush Puppies on the nose and apologized to my red-laced John Fluevog’s for neglecting them. Then, rocking my cowboy boots in my arms, I whispered, “we did it guys, we are finally going to the top.” After a moment of silence I returned to my computer and wrote London back. I told him that my face typically didn’t do pro bono work but this time I would make an exception. I also inquired about hair and make-up and whether there would be a professional lighting artist on set.
I clicked send and then pulled out my note-pad to make a checklist of things to do now that I was a major supermodel.
On the day of the big shoot, apart from a haircut, I had managed to accomplish nothing on my list. With one hour to spare, I zipped up my cowboy boots, buttoned my favourite lavender dress shirt, and tightened the knot on my CK mauve tie. I threw my lamb’s wool cardigan over my shoulders like a superhero’s cape and then called for an emergency cab to Club Monaco to buy pants. I knew I was going to have to put down money to get the exact shade of blue I wanted. Unfortunately for my credit card, H&M and Joe Fresh could not help me this time.
Tipping the cab driver generously for his urgency, I walked up the stairs to the men’s section with Pacey strapped around my right shoulder. I made a b-line for the clearance rack (old Winnipeg habit) and heard a slightly-feminine voice from behind a corduroy coat rack.
“Can I help you?” emerged a short Filipino man. He was dressed like he was going back to school at Harvard and smelled like one of my ex-boyfriends.
“Yes!” I replied, taking my excitement down a notch. While shopping in downtown Vancouver, I have learned that you must establish yourself as an important person; otherwise retail gays will treat you like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
“My name is Rugged Fox and I have a website which kind of makes me a big deal but that is not why I am here.” I waited for any sign of recognition but there was none, so tried a different approach. “I am a supermodel and unless I find the right colour pants to match this outfit I am going to lose my spot on page twenty-six.”
“Do you know what colour you are looking for?”
“Yes Romaine, I am in doth search of the hue cerulean. It is featured in Calvin Klein’s 2012 spring collection and just so happens to be one of my favourite childhood colours.”
“I’m sorry, but I am not familiar with that particular shade. Can you describe it to me?”
“It is the same colour as Paul Walker’s eyes.”
“Right over here, sir.”
While Romaine led me over to the perfect pair of pants, I remembered to ask him whether he had a cigarette or two grams of coke. The answer was no.
$150 later I strutted down Robson Street like it was Fifth Avenue in New York. With a half an hour to spare before I became famous, I decided to take a detour down Davie Street to test-run my ensemble amongst the gays. Standing two inches above the ground, I took the gay village by storm. I smiled at the boys who whistled at me from the coffee-shop patios, waved to those who honked, and stopped to give a nice lady the address of the consignment store where I got my boots. Then, just as I was on the outskirts of the village approaching Burrard, I received a greeting of a much different kind.
“You f#$king gays disgust me!” a man shouted who had stopped in front of me. He then spit on the ground in front of my feet and continued to walk passed in the opposite direction. I turned around to see him spit one more time for dramatic effect, and then he was carried out in to a sea of rainbow flags.
In Winnipeg I used to get called out for much lesser outfits. Instead of honking or whistling, drivers would show their affection for my style by rolling down their windows and screaming “faggot” or “homo.” One time, three guys actually pulled over their truck to complement my poofy sweater. I was in a rush at the time, however, and booked it to sanctuary at Starbucks before they could get out of the vehicle. I have always had the option to blend in; to throw on some baggy jeans and a hoody and watch myself magically disappear. Thing is though, ever since I was a little boy, I have always preferred to stand out.
Standing at the same place on the sidewalk I found myself without movement. Then, something surprising happened. I picked up my shoulders and placed one boot in front of the other. Taking the lead from my chin, my eyes lifted off the ground and my spine followed suit. I felt stronger than I ever had before, and I was in shock about it. In the past I would have let a moment like this sink down in to my stomach and poison the rest of my day. I would have carried the pain around like a grandé dark roast and tried to wash it down at the end of the night with four ounces of gin and a half-bottle of red wine.
But this time was different. For the first time in my adult male life, I felt the words bounce right off me. They could not penetrate the wooden heels on my boots; touch the vinyl lining inside my bag; or wipe the smile off my face. This time around, I had an extra layer of protection that I never had before: self-esteem. This time I was bullet-proof.
My boots switched in to full stride and I grabbed on to my cardigan before a gust of wind blew it away.
“Bring your chin up a little bit higher and try not to tilt your head so much,” instructed the photographer at the shoot. He had great pecs and the biggest lens I had ever seen.
“I am a supermodel,” I told him.
“Whatever helps you get through the day,” he replied.
The fall issue of the magazine hits select stands in Vancouver this October.