Brooks steered her BMW 320i into the circular driveway of her parent’s
Malibu home. Entering the foyer, she faced a life-size portrait of
herself. The painting had been commissioned for her sixteenth birthday
five years earlier and every detail from the chignon holding her brunette
hair up in a classic twist to the Valentino gown on loan from her
mother’s walk-in closet had been decided without her input.
Miss Brooks,” The housekeeper greeted her.
and father decided to have lunch in the solarium. They're waiting
Joanne joined her
parents at a white wicker table set with china featuring a cheerful
pattern of lemons set against a royal-blue rim. Crystal glasses held
water and white wine. Pleasantries were exchanged while her mother
served spiced rice mixed with vegetables and exotic seafood.
“The cook spent
all day working on this paella.” Her mother took a sip of Chardonnay.
“I saw the recipe in my Gourmet Magazine and thought you might
Joanne tasted a spoonful.
“It's good. Thank you." The response was expected and automatically
granted. “Would it be possible to talk to both of you about
my summer plans?”
know your plans,” her mother stated.
Sweetheart. Now that your pre-law work at USC is complete, you'll
need to prepare for Harvard in the fall.” Her father beamed.
“I'm so proud of you. The happiest day of my life is going to
be the day you join my law firm and become a member of the team.”
Joanne wondered if
his team of attorneys had personalities similar to the students she
had met during her four years at USC. Her fellow Trojans had been
either stressed out from trying to keep up scholarship grades, or
arrogant from living off family money. No lasting friendships made.
No romances blossomed. She held back a sigh. “I'm fully aware
of my upcoming obligations, but...since it is summer and all...I'd
like to take some time off to model.“ Her
mother looked away. Her father lost his smile. Any deviation from
the life plan they had prepared for her, a life plan etched in stone
as far as they were concerned, had to be a welcome addition or it
was shot down immediately. Once that happened, the subject was strictly
off-limits. “Do you remember the agent who wanted to represent
discussed this. I don't want to open the Sunday paper and see my daughter's
face on a coupon for tampons.”
all modeling jobs are like that. If you had let me sign a contract
with Wilhemina last month, my first job would have been for an album
worse. Who knows what some pimply faced boy might have done while
listening to those filthy lyrics and staring at my beautiful baby.”
Her father leaned
forward in his chair. “Jo-Jo, you know what we think about you
wasting time on silly pursuits.”
If I tell them
about the ticket to Milan tucked inside my purse, they'll call the
airline and cancel the reservation.
for you to stay on track,” her father continued.
The flight leaves
at 8:45 tomorrow morning. If I don't get on that plane, I'll never
have the courage to do anything on my own.
has already made plans to take you shopping for an appropriate East
Coast wardrobe, and I've already blocked out three days on my July
schedule to take you to Boston so we can look for a condo.”
but...why did you enroll me at that Modeling School last year if you
didn't want me to model?”
it would help polish your presentation skills and I was right.”
Her mother took another sip of wine. “You hold yourself perfectly
now, but I only want you to use this knowledge to impress people that
matter. It would be vulgar to promote yourself for money.”
“I don't see
you're still so young,” her father interjected.
“I don't want
to discuss this anymore." Her mother slid her chair back. “The
conversation is giving me a migraine." The agitated tap-tap
of her kitten heels sounded on the tile floor as she departed the
been such a smart girl." Her father's steady gaze bore into hers.
“Don't mess it up now." He set his linen napkin on the
table and stood to walk away.
Joanne leaned back
in the chair and recalled her second interview last week with the
poised and radient ex-model, Wilhemina; the one where she successfully
negotiated a revised contract that would allow her to work in Italy
for one month instead of the standard two. She had spent the last
few days hoping her parents would support her first solo endeavor,
but the encouraging hugs and words of praise she longed for had not
happened. She lowered her head into her hands. Why don't they
care about what I want? Why don't my needs matter?
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