In the mid-80s my Dad was a real estate agent with the leading independent agency on Sydney’s exclusive North Shore. He was a very good real estate agent and for reaching particular sales targets or some such his employer – a power couple of expensive suits (both of them), big hair (her not him), shoulder pads (hard to tell) and fancy cars – gave him a trip to China for him and my brother. There is a photo somewhere of my Dad, in full toupee regalia, standing on The Great Wall with a “For Sale” sign for the company. You so know I’m not making that up.
Feeling bad for me, the dynamic duo packed me and their daughter off to a week-long deportment class at June Dally-Watkins. Even at the age of 13 I so knew I’d been given a bum steer. For five long days I learnt how to set a table, how to sit with crossed ankles (crossed legs – so UNCOUTH!), how to make small talk, how to apply make-up and most importantly, how to walk a cat walk. A crucial life skill in any modern woman’s handbook. Secretly, I loved it hard.
(Just an aside: I was the only one in the whole class who was perfectly in proportion. Yes, they took our bust, waist and hip measurements under the guise of ‘health’. Also, when I stood with my legs the required distance apart the top of my thighs did not meet. Naturally at that time I thought I was HUGE so these two clear indicators of fine character made me love JDW even more.)
Then it came time for graduation – a fancy dinner where we got to showcase all those new skills of knowing which fork to use with which course, how to put a face on and how to make small talk at a table of strangers. The grand finale was when each of us walked.the.catwalk.
I’ll leave that with you for a moment.
Yes. So we each had to walk the catwalk as the MC introduced who we were, where we came from and what we wanted to be when we grew up. The boss’s daughter and I had been naughty and made all that sort of shit up. So there I was, walking the catwalk in a fire hazard of a shiny over-sized white shirt with a wide STUDDED belt slung over the hips, LEATHER pants and a hairdo that had fallen out in the car on the way to the event which had me in tears on Dad’s spectacular CAR PHONE to mum. If I recall it was some sort of braid down the middle with curled hair on either side. That such a pelt of travesty had been allowed to be created on my head is beyond me. File that under Case Study: Father out of his depth. I remember hoping people would focus on my remarkably blended, many shades of blue eyeshadow showcase rather than the crisis unfolding on the top of my head.
As I strutted my stuff down that wretched cat walk I heard the MC breezily introducing me, my age, where I lived and that I wanted to be – pause – a brain surgeon when I grew up.