I screwed around a lot in high school. I was one of those kids who wouldn’t shut up in classes he liked, like history and English. Believe me, few Duluth High students held stronger opinions about the Battle of Hastings and Ezra Pound than I. However, I just.. could… not… stay… awake in classes I disliked, such as… well, most forms of math, honestly. That’s assuming I even showed up at all. After all, can’t you learn more about the human condition in one afternoon at the High Museum than you can in a whole week of Mrs. Pierce’s class?
So, not surprisingly, I had to start my collegiate career at community college.
How long ago was this? It was so long ago that Atlanta still had separate morning and evening newspapers. I mention this because I had to subscribe to the morning paper for 10 weeks for an economics class.
One morning I grabbed my copy of The Atlanta Constitution and drove to school. The traffic gods were kind that morning, so I had plenty of time to pick up a cup of tea at the Student Center. I sat in the near-empty classroom, reading the paper and sipping my builder’s tea. And there I spotted the blurb:
German supermodel Claudia Schiffer will be making an appearance from noon until 2PM at the downtown Macy’s tomorrow to promote her new Guess? perfume.
Me, having clearly learned nothing from screwing around in high school, thought: “I have a female in my life I could buy that perfume for. And meeting Claudia Schiffer sounds like WAY MORE FUN than Algebra 98.” So I went to my first class the next morning, then drove to Macy’s downtown.
The queue wasn’t as long as you might imagine. There were only 30-35 people ahead of me in line, and I wasn’t even trying to rush there. To be honest, Claudia Schiffer was always way down my supermodel list. I always have been, and forever shall be, a Christy Turlington man, with Helena Christensen as my side chick. There certainly wasn’t anything WRONG with Claudia Schiffer. She was just #18 on the list because there were 17 models I thought were prettier. Yes, even Shalom Harlow.
But then she finally came out from behind a makeshift curtain. I was a ways from her, but I remember thinking “wow, she’s a lot prettier than I expected… like A LOT prettier!” And, as the line got ever-closer I just COULDN’T BELIEVE how pretty she was. I mean, there were posters of her plastered in almost every direction of the fragrance department. I could look at those posters all day and think, “yeah, that girl’s pretty”, but then to turn my head and actually SEE her? In the flesh? Godammighhty! It was like my blood pressure went up five points every step closer I got to her.
Then the moment finally came: I was THERE, the width of a high school cafeteria-style table across from Claudia Schiffer. Imagine all the love and care and feeding and education and attention it took to make ME. The countless hours of effort of hundreds, perhaps THOUSANDS of people, from doctors and teachers to cafeteria ladies and Vince at the Pleasant Hill Jiffy Lube. All those people, just for me to look Claudia Schiffer dead in the eye and, for want of anything else better to say, said:
“You’re SOOOO PRETTY. I just wanna die!”
My “one chance” with a supermodel, and I sound like Marcia freakin’ Brady telling Jan about a secret crush. Thankfully, rather than look alarmed, she just kind of grinned, I guess secretly celebrating me officially being the 10,000th man she’d turned into a complete pile of helpless Jell-O.
“OK. But… your name… for the shirt?”
“Oh [sheepishly] Jim. J-I-M.”
She signed “To Jim, Claudia Schiffer” on a Guess? t-shirt, smiled and handed it to me. To my credit, I’d recovered enough to prove my German classes weren’t completely useless by giving her a “Tschüs!” then stepped away before making the situation any worse.
And that’s why I like this song.