A 20-something photographer professional acquaintance of mine, a twin, came to me and disclosed a litany of things that weren’t going well: a male friend who had an ambivalent approach-avoid response to her, not sure if he wanted to be a friend or a lover but nonetheless could not stop spending time with her, jobs that were not forthcoming, doing work for free, a bad agent, being taken advantage of. Basically she was not there. The invisible twin. The role she had in her family.
I thought she could be engaging, somewhat reticent, but charming. She, I know, is awfully talented as a photographer. In fact, she was asked by many celebrities to take creative shots of them, but somehow the money remained scant. She did fashion shows for friends who were trust funders and they took advantage of her soft-spoken unassertive demeanor.
The second most recent time I saw her, she appeared her usual self. Somewhat petite and voluptuous with long straggly dirty blond hair, over-sized clothes that were decidedly neuter. She gave me her litany. So I looked at her and said “You need to find a nice piece of clothing” She said she couldn’t afford it. I told her she couldn’t afford not to afford it. I then asked her whether she saw herself as a “female with consequence”. She had no idea what I was talking about (but who really does?). With further clarification she said she was a tomboy and didn’t like “girly” things. I told her she better get one girly clothing thing in her repertoire by the next time I saw her.
She came in next time, two months later. I had forgotten about my homework assignment. She walked in transformed, it was subtle, but notable. Her hair was beautifully highlighted and the wavy mop turned into soft, long, butter-colored marcel waves. She had on stylish clothes that were tailored to her now non-invisible body. She bore a sly smile of reticent exuberance. As soon as she sat down she said “My life has changed”. She went on to describe how after our conversation she thought of what she should get that was girly, but she couldn’t decide. What she did find was a pair of ankle high black boots, suitable for a tomboy, which could easily double as shoes, should she choose to wear a dress. They made her feel really good. Just really good. That’s when things took off. She noticed she was walking straighter, taller, had better eye contact and spoke with more authority. She started refusing to do things for free and her friends bartered for her services. She got a makeover from her friend the make-up artist, a hair style from another one, and clothes from a designer for whom she did fashion shoots. Equipped with her new look that she had parlayed with her wit and new shoes, she found a new agent who was beginning to book her for paying jobs. And of course… the Hollywood ending…her reticent beau grabbed her on the street one day and kissed her forthright in front of a group of friends much to everyone’s surprise. He has come to love her and, as he is an actively employed photographer who shoots around the world, has invited her to the West Coast to shoot in the high Sierras for “fun”.
I asked her, “All this because of a pair of boot-shoes?” She nodded. I asked “Where do I get a pair?!!” She was so adorable because she told me and we laughed like a couple of girls who master-minded a coup on a shoe-string. As she left, she gave me a look I can never forget. She smiled knowingly, appreciatively, earnestly; all in her own way… reticently.