Displayed on his laptop was the Facebook photo of someone I barely recognized. His was a good-old boy face, with clean features and a fresh haircut. He carried himself with forced-casual posture — shoulders back and spine slightly hunched — and it screamed American Eagle catalog.
Teddy and Kathy laughed at his modeling photos as they passed the bowl back and forth, him clicking and changing the picture every other toke. Teddy gestured towards the screen. “Look at what Ky’s been up to.”
Ky was a server who started working at the Thai restaurant just before I left. We didn’t talk much: I remember he seemed real country, real green. He mentioned getting into acting and modeling. I could barely place his face on the Photoshopped Malibu Ken in front of me, who went through a wardrobe change and pose shift with every mouse click, the only ubiquitous feature the plastic smile on his face:
Here he is, wrapped in a scarf!
Now, flexing his abdominal muscles!
Wow! It looks like Ky’s ready for a night on the town! Let’s go, Barbie!
They laughed and pointed and laughed some more, half in good-nature, and the other half, not so quite. “Hey, I mean, good luck to him,” Kathy said.
“Yeah, hope he gets something out of these pictures,” Teddy added. Like these dismissive platitudes negated their ridicule, or concealed the resentment laced twixt every laugh, every comment, every puff of smoke exhaled in Ky direction.
I remember doing the exact same thing, once upon a time, while visiting my friends Jenny Beth and Danielle, in Nashville. Late one night and bored, we started flipping through the 30-pictures-deep Facebook modeling album of a former CTY co-worker. He proudly posted a short prelude, explaining that he never considered modeling, but a friend suggested it and he “loved the results.”
The “results” were far more over the top than Ky’s photos, and included super-mega-bonus suggestive captions, like “wanna get nailed?” as if wearing cut-off jean shorts, an open flannel shirt, and a firm grip on the shaft of a hammer wasn’t suggestive enough. Or if clutching a toy jack hammer directly in front of your crotch didn’t slap you across the face with a laundry list of double entendre, one was provided for ease of reference (“I’d hammer you, too.”) We laughed and we pointed and we laughed, until we went through the entire album, trying out each caption in our own sexy voice.
Half in good nature. Half not so quite.
This time around with Ky’s photos, it wasn’t as amusing. I walked out of the room, and the click of the mouse and more laughter followed me into the hallway. Their gaiety hit too close to home. It was a low blow, making the subject of their ridicule someone who was getting started in entertainment. Be certain that anytime you attempt something difficult, something without a proven record, people are lining up their bets against you and laughing as they do it. Rare are the people who wish you the best of luck, and mean it.
Which is helpful, in its own way. Ridicule weeds out those without the gumption to stick it out for the long run. If you can’t handle some razzing at stage one, it’s unlikely you’ll have the staying power to last the seasons, when ridicule melts to begrudging acceptance, and eventually, blooms to admiration.
Still. “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a difficult battle.”
Photo Credit: Shannon Huppin