Spinning Magnolias

September 8, 2008

Magnolia Pettes is a model, a beautiful girl with large green eyes, long blonde streaked hair and a body girls envy and men covet. At every party she is the It Girl, in every room it was like spotlights were only on her, she is the star where ever she goes. She can have any man she wants, any drug she wants, and she can have it now.

The only thing was, at 22 years old, she already felt old – she felt used up.

She was getting sick of the coke binging, sick of feeling slutty the morning after, sick of walking through Yorkville Park at three in the afternoon, getting breakfast at the coffee shop while children next to her were getting there after school snacks.

The jobs weren’t flying in anymore. Her agency called her less and less. Partly because the jobs they were offering her were crap and she kept turning them down, but partly because when she did accept them, she showed up late, high and/or drunk.

No one wanted to book her for modelling gigs anymore – she was only being hired for openings of new clubs and restaurants. Expected to be the ‘date’ of expensive clients.

At the cafe she sipped her coffee through a straw, watching a girl play with her dog. It dawned on her that this girl was probably the same age as her, she wasn’t extraordinarily beautiful but she wasn’t ugly either, she looked like she could have been a student, maybe she has a boyfriend. Her clothes weren’t necessarily front-page worty either – last year’s UGGs with ripped up Rock’s, but this girl, who had nothing better to do at three in the afternoon but play with her little white poodle looked genuinely happy.

And this made Magnolia wonder if she would ever get there.

Her penthouse suite had lose its allure, the sexy baller types with wads of cash they gave her had also lost its thrill.

Nothing seemed to excite her anymore.

Sleeping with the new It club owners was boring now – she could barely fake an orgasm. Her so-called friends were only interesting to her when they were high.

She wondered if there would ever be a normal life for her. She wondered if there would ever be a boyfriend in her life. Maybe even a relationship.

How did she even get here? She half-laughed to herself. A place in her head that she actually wanted a ‘normal’ life with a relationship??

Sadly, she knew exactly how she got here. She just didn’t think that her life would ever lead her to this conclusion, this need of normalcy.

So she stopped.

She slowed down, and she stopped.

Magnolia changed her phone number, not telling anybody her new one. This was so refreshingly weird that it almost frightened her. No missed calls, no searching for a vibrating cell phone in her bag – it just seemed so quiet.

Just peace and quiet.

Rumors started flying about her – she was on a bender. Or in Europe. Or in rehab.

They weren’t too far fetched though – hadn’t she been there already?

She was still going out and partying, but with no phone there was no way to invite her to after parties, no late night booty calls.

Sometimes her friends tried going to her place after the clubs, but she placed her buzzer on DND and her doorman never let them in. It made her look as if she was still partying, as if she had somehwere better to be.

In truth, she was getting to bed earlier so she could wake up earlier, for her 11 am yoga class, three times a week. She was naturally ultra-slim, but she was noticing her body was changing now, sleeker, more strong.

She bumped into a club promoter in the park as she was sipping her coffee through a straw again. The kissed air and he started shouting at her in his fake British accent.

“Hey Magnolia! I’ve been trying to get ahold of you! Where have you been, love? Holiday? You look fantastic!”

She shrugged but thankfully didn’t have to reply because he kept on talking.

“There’s a new club opening darling! It’s called Rehab! Isn’t that so tongue-in-chic? Everyone’s gonna be there – you have to come! I insist! VIP, bottle service, anything you want!”

She half-smiled, told him she would try to make an appearance, which seemed to satisfy him because he jumped on his phone and left.

She felt her world slowly shut down around her. Calls were non-existent, her only contact with the world were the coffee shop employees and her yoga class.

Magnolia sat in Yorkville Park again, this time at 9 am, fresh out of her early yoga class, watching the birds fighting over a piece of bread, and she wondered to herself, “Is this what it feels like to be alone?”

She saw a shadow form from someone standing behind her, hesistantly she turned around and recognized the man’s handsome face.

Paul, an old party friend, a banker type who had married a model. He looked good as ever in his Armani suit and Prada shoes, his dark hair falling over his dark eyes, and she suddenly realised what she looked like. Her own long blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, no makeup, with her purple yoga pants on. And Paul sat down at the chair next to her.

“What you been up to?” He started. “You look terrific! Pilates?”

“No, yoga,” She said with a smile.

“Oh. Sheniss was a pilates freak.” That was her name, the model wife, Sheniss. Magnolia once pulled out her hair in a bathroom fight.

“So how are you and Sheniss? I heard your honeymoon was in Fiji? Sorry I missed the wedding, I think I was in London on a shoot.”

“Oh no worries. We honeymooned in Mexico. And now we’re in the process of a divorce.”

“Oh my god – I’m so sorry.” Magnolia was surprised that she actually did feel sorry for him.

“No, no. It’s honestly for the best. We, we weren’t very… compatible I think.” He shook his head for a couple of seconds. “Anyway, she moved out, I get my condo back, it’s almost like it never happened. You know, I’m having a dinner party at my place next Saturday, you should come. We could catch up.”

“Definitely, that sounds like fun.” She smiled, she knew she wouldn’t go, but it was nice of him to offer.

She returned to her penthouse, which now seemed extra large and empty now that everything was packed up and moved out. All that was left in the echoing rooms was a couple of rugs, huge, shaggy, luxurious things that she was leaving behind.

She decided there was no way she could really make a change in her life if she felt like she was stuck, stuck in the same place physically.

Her place sold within an hour after it was on the market, at 40% over asking. She immediately put down a deposit on a huge authentic loft conversion on Queen St West – away from the posh little neighborhood she was living in – away from the clubs and people she knew. Her new place was a penthouse, but it felt more true to her now.

Polish concrete floors, exposed beams, original brick walls. It felt right to her.

There was no doorman, but the building had a gorgeous rooftop patio, with gardens, benches and little bonsai trees. It felt like so calm above the busy city. It felt like home.

The Saturday of Paul’s dinner party was her first night in her new home.

The week leading up to the move-in was her and her decorator picking out paint, furniture, appliances, and new rugs – even better than her original ones.

And she even got a job. She had called her modelling agency and informed them she was leaving the business. She got a job at a luxury boutique, the first time in her life working an 8 hour shift was so exhausting for her, but at the same time, exciting.

It was exciting for her to feel normal. She started reading more than just magazines. She was in advanced yoga. And she was doing everything on her own.

She felt empowered. She felt like herself again for the first time in a really long time.

She realised she never actually knew who she was, until she stripped it all away and was alone, all by herself.

But she wasn’t alone anymore.

She was in a relationship now.

With a little brown yorkie named Max.

Magnolia and Max lived happily ever after. For now.

The Fine Line

June 7, 2008

I joined my friend Blair for a late brunch today, and I noticed she was definitely wearing her walk of shame outfit to brunch – her hair was slicked back, she was wearing a purple cocktail dress with a light pashmina thrown over the top, those gorgeous new Dior shoes, and her makeup didn’t exactly look fresh. She looked hot, but as any good friend would know, she was doing the walk of shame at brunch, with me.

She started telling me about the guy, some rich Italian man with lots of money, those guys at the club who pull out a money clip full of hundreds, gold jewelry, everything Armani or Boss or D & G, and continue to get bottle after bottle of booze in a reserved booth. Blair was there for some MAC party, and was quickly invited into the Italian’s booth where she drank a vintage Dom Perignon Rose until they closed the club.

All night Italian was telling Blair how gorgeous she was, his job had something to do with fashion, and he kept telling her he would take her back to Italy and dress her in the very latest – evidently there was a Cavalli maxi dress with her name on it back home.

Blair went back to the Italian’s penthouse suite at the Pantages hotel downtown, and she definitely enjoyed herself there. That is, until she work up. She turned over in the luxurious sheets to give her Italian a squeeze, but all she was left with was a piece of paper. The note indicated that he had to catch his flight back to Italy, there was a phone number and a date next week when he was coming back.

She was more than a little stunned – not by the one-night stand – but by the one-night stand who took off before she woke up. A knock on the door twenty minutes later signified that her breakfast had arrived, which the Italian had ordered before he left. And on the tray, next to a bowl of strawberries was an envelope addressed to ‘The Most Beautiful Woman’.

The envelope contained four thousand dollars.

Blair was dumbfounded. A man who couldn’t even remember her name (she didn’t remember his either) had left her enough cash to pay for almost three months rent. There was another note, a simple ‘Buy yourself something nice’.

This one night in Blair’s life reminded me of a SATC episode where Carrie hangs out with the fabulous European friend who hooks her up with another European hottie who also leaves her some cash the next morning. I don’t exactly remember what she did with the cash (I *think* she took it but I’m not sure), but I remember her freaking out over the aspect that this European hottie thought she was a prostitute.

And that also got me thinking.

Where do you draw the line between one-night stand and blatant prostitution?

Women always have the opportunity to get free drinks, free meals, and sometimes free clothing courtesy of a man they meet. Sometimes they know the man for a while, sometimes a day or two, but as women we usually feel that we’re worth it and, why shouldn’t a man spend some of his money on us?

We will resist at first – Oh no, that’s too much, I can get it myself – but men will try and try again and we will give in most of the time. I am all for that. I am no golddigger, I am also not a woman who has ever had a man buy her an extravagant bag for no reason or left her four thousand dollars by the bedside as a thank you for having sex with them. My bf has purchased me a couple of extravagant gifts in the five years we’ve been dating – a Michael Kors winter coat with fur trim, a Bebe fur coat, and, most recently, a John Galliano cocktail dress. But they were always for Christmas, or birthdays, or some sort of occassion – and we are dating, so obviously gifts are something to be expected of.

But when you’re not even dating the guy, and he bestows you with a large sum of cash, wouldn’t you be a little worried? I mean, the practical mom voice in me comes out and thinks – is he some kind of bad business guy who’s laundering money or something? Which really makes no sense and really doesn’t matter as she will probably never see him again.

Does he see her as a prostitute?

What man in his right mind does something like this?

Is it a power game? But who really has the power? The one giving or the one taking?

My thoughts were interrupted by Blair’s cell phone blasting the Kanye/Coldplay song.

Her conversation was short and sweet, something about new shoes, and she ended it with a perky ‘Ciao!’.

“That was Andre.” She told me. She looked guiltily up at me, and then she said something so quietly I almost didn’t hear her in the clatter of the bistro around us.

“I took the money.”

Blair went on to tell me how she sat there for almost an hour staring at the money. She thought of all the pros and cons. Pros being: new shoes, rent paid, new clothes, and maybe another rendevous with the Italian (whose name she learned after calling his cell and hearing his message when it went to voicemail). Cons being: prostitution, does he think she’s poor?, and what would happen to the money if she didn’t take it?.

She was throroughly confused. But then she thought, at the end of the day, what does it matter?

She had a one-night stand, and it wasn’t her first one, this is a man she will most likely not see again, but if there’s an opportunity she would like to, and who cares what he thought of her? She made herself believe that she almost found this money, and when an opportunity of four thousand dollars falls in your lap (or next to your strawberries), who wouldn’t take it?

Before she met up with me she stopped by Holt’s and bought herself the Dior Extreme Gladiators in the Pewter shade, and she wore them out of the store, to brunch, and told Andre about them on the phone.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping – and to my surprise, Blair bought me a pair of Manolo Blahniks I’ve been eyeing, the zebra-print D’Orsay pumps, which were not only on sale, but there was one left and in my size!

There may be a razor-thin line between one-night stands and prostitution, but it’s one that is a little blurry, one that is all about what you believe in yourself to be. And if you are an independent woman, who has sex with hot Italians who enjoy showering women with gifts, why not accept them?

And when someone offers to buy you a pair of beautiful shoes, who am I to say no to that?

I just thanked her and spent the rest of the day admiring my beautiful feet.