Monday, 19 August 2013

Walking the runway with Wang Chung

It came like a shock from the unknown. It was a simple question, really, but I had to ask myself, “Who me?”

It was Grade 12 and one of the members of the grad committee, confronted me in the lunch room right near the front doors. It was Kate Andrews High School, second semester, 1987. She looked serious. I worried.

“Do you want to be in the grad fashion show?” she asked.

Never, in a million years, had I thought that would ever happen.

It took close to one nanosecond for me to answer: “Ya.”

Stuff like that was always for the cool kids in school. Was I actually cool now? It really didn’t matter because I was working, going to school, having my heart broken by a girl, and beginning to see the end of high school, and university in a far off place looming on the horizon.

Clothes make the man
All us models were told to head downtown to Herb Fletcher’s Men’s Wear to choose a few outfits: one tuxedo, one semi-formal, and one casual.

It was an amazing experience. Herb, at least I thought it was Herb, knew just what to do. He gave us a catalogue of tuxedos to leaf through. Tuxedos! It was so cool. I chose a black one with a longer jacket.

I remember when one f the other guys, Tony I think, came out of the change room, fully decked out in his tuxedo. He walked about five feet, spun, looked me in the eye and said, “Bond – James Bond.” We both giggled, you know like two 17-year-olds should.

When I emerged from the change room in my black tuxedo, I was still in disbelief. It was so cool. Herb conveniently told us we could rent those tuxes for grad, and marked in the catalogue which ones we had modelled. I went home and told my mom I would love to wear a tuxedo for grad. She said she’d planned on buying me a suit, but this was just as good. In retrospect, to this day, I think it was better.

That day, I also chose a steel gray jacket with a tie for my semi-formal, and pair of black pants and a yellow shirt with a black boxed pattern for my casual wear.

My mom always said “clothes make the man” (or at least the German equivalent) . I felt like a man now.

Show time
We had no rehearsal, and no preparation. It was a week night, a Wednesday I think, and I drove to the school early. We got dressed, formal wear first, and that tux felt so nice. I ended up walking around the lunch room which was next to the gym. One of the girls had some modelling experience and demonstrated how to walk. Well, there was no way I could move like that. I thought I would just follow the lead of my partner.

It was show time, and the emcees were Ed Ryan, our guidance counsellor, and Angie Credico, our sewing/home economics teacher. Mr. Ryan, who was like a second father to me, was a radio announcer in his previous life, and he was a great host.

Suddenly, “Let’s Go” by Wang Chung was playing, and I accompanied my escort down the runway. It was so awesome! Once we left the stage, we quickly changed and repeated the runway walk.

There was a change of plans for whatever reason, for the casual wear. I went out with Jason and Rachel. We walked down the centre together, then each of them went in a different direction, leaving me facing the crowd. I didn’t know what to do, so I did what came naturally – nothing. I stood, and kind of walked in place. I felt like a soldier marching. They completed their turns, we joined up and walked off together. We were laughing so hard when we got off the runway.

It was the beginning – and end – of my modelling career. But every time I hear “Let’s Go” I think of that special night I got to feel, or at least dress, like I was important.

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