The Quality
A Completely True Story
March 25th, 2004

I moved to Los Angeles two years ago with one mission in mind. One goal I have been driving towards my entire life, and all events preceding it were mere tests of my resolve. I was going to live the American Dream. I was going to become a male model who awkwardly tried to land bit parts in TV and movies.

The dream began when I was a young boy, watching the geniuses of our day master their craft. And no, I’m not talking about Fabio. For models, you need not look further than Joseph Kokelbaum, who rose to fame by modeling the popular tennis shoe 'Roos. Unfortunately, Joseph was born with abnormally misshapen feet, and because of this, he could only model women’s sizes. Despite this handicap he persevered, and his courage made women’s shoes with tiny pockets fashionable to young girls across the country. His work was finally noticed when a television producer cast him on the popular sitcom The Facts of Life, where he played Tootie's feet in the episode where she makes a sculpture of Jermaine Jackson’s head and has it thrown in the trash because security thinks it’s a bomb. It was a landmark role, and a main reason he was a hero of mine. I even did a book report on him in my fourth grade Science class, but failed because I was told we don’t give book reports in Science class. This setback only fueled my desire.

The Work of Kokelbaum

After eventually graduating junior high, I made the decision to skip high school. From what I heard, it was just a breeding ground of judgmental cliques and superficial popularity contests. I had more important things to do, like fully concentrating on my modeling career. After being kicked out of my house for spending what my dad called “an unnaturally gay amount of time staring in the mirror,” I hopped in my golden ticket, which looked strikingly similar to a 1992 Geo Metro Hatchback, and set out across the country.

At the age of 18, all I had to my name were the clothes on my back, some 2 dollar bills my grandma gave me when I was 5, and a little thing called pride, which almost left me after my dad reported his Geo Metro stolen, and the cops pulled me over. Luckily, I also had some determination, which helped when orally servicing truckers for rides across states.

After a month, I finally arrived in the City of Angels and could barely contain my excitement! Luckily, moments later I was taken down by a homeless man in a runaway shopping cart yelling “Kobe’s innocent!”, and it helped curb my excitement. This was two years ago, so I thought the man was crazy at the time, but now I realize he just had amazing foresight.

So there I was with stars in my eyes, ready to take the modeling world by storm! But where do I start? I realized all that time I spent preparing by looking in the mirror left me wholly clueless, yet grossly arrogant. So I began to wander the streets. I had read stories of how people were plucked from obscurity all the time, and I also remembered my hero Joseph Kokelbaum, and how he was discovered; by getting hit by an agent as he limped across a street trying to negotiate his deformed feet. According to his unauthorized biography, (which I actually made up myself one drug-hazed evening) the agent was afraid of getting sued by Kokelbaum, so he gave him a job as a foot model. How ironic. Well, I think it’s ironic. I wouldn’t really know, seeing as I didn’t go to high school. But I did know that I could somehow follow in Kokel’s footsteps.

While working at Universal CityWalk one night (and by working, I mean hanging outside Jillian’s asking kids for loose change), I noticed a very attractive man approaching people and having them fill out slips of paper. Hoping it was something free, I walked over to overhear what he was saying. He stopped a few girls who were baring their midriffs and said, “Hey ladies, have you ever thought of being a model or actress?” My jaw dropped and I started to shake. And I could tell it was a different shake than the hunger pains I was used to. This was my chance! I put on the modeling face I had practiced for all those hours, and strutted by this opportunity in an Abercrombie shirt. ‘It all come down to this.’ I thought as I clenched my jaw to accentuate my chiseled face. I walked right on by, and waited to be handed my ticket to fame. Instead, I was shocked to find he wasn’t even looking my way. How did he not notice me?! So I walked by again. And again. Then I realized…He was simply testing my nerve, to see if I had what it took to be a star. So I hid behind a trash can and waited for some fool to throw away their slip of paper. And when it happened, I snatched it up, and found an address and a number code on it. My moment had arrived!

I came dressed in my finest attire, walked up to the barren warehouse building, looking for an entrance. All I could find was a doorbell in the middle of the brick exterior. When I pressed it, a woman with an English accent asked me what I wanted. I held up the piece of paper, and part of the brick wall opened up, startling me. I was really nervous, and also hadn't eaten in a week and a half, which is actually helps someone trying to be a model. I walked into the lobby, which consisted of the English woman behind a desk, and a clipboard. She looked me up and down and I could tell she was taking in the talent before her. "You must be one of those with the ticket." I smiled at her for a few seconds, trying to figure out if she was coming on to me. This would have been the first time it ever happened, so it took me a while to understand it. "Do you have a ticket?" Oh. Forget it. She just wants my ticket. I exchange my ticket for the clipboard, which takes 30 minutes to fill out. It was only a page long, but there was a section that asked what my interests were, and I had to make sure I got everything in. I recounted my tale of how I got here, and the story Kokelbaum and his ruined feet, and how I was desperate to succeed. When I turned it in, the woman said, "Francois will be with you shortly."

'Francois,' I thought. 'Wow. He just sounds intimidating and knowledgeable.' After what seemed like hours (or could have been, since I actually lost consciousness a few times, wishing I had stayed and gotten enough change from those kids at the arcade for a McGriddle), the woman glanced up at me, pointed to red door behind me and said, "Francois will see you now."

This was it. All 1,198 words of my story came down to this! I swung the door open and was immediately greeted by a hulking Frenchman, who I assumed was Francois.

" Francois," he bellowed, answering my assumption.

His swollen banana hands enveloped my arm, and I couldn't help but think he looked a lot like Dom Deluise.

"Please, sit down. Yes." Francois instructed.

I sat in the chair across from his desk, and admired the autographed photos and movie posters he proudly displayed on his wall. Proud films with names like Nocturnal Promises, Final Affection, Fatal Affection, Final Fatal, and Absolute Finality. All starring sexy women who no doubt began their careers modeling for Francois, the genius.

Francois fell back into his chair, nodded his head a few times, then just stared at me. I could tell he was putting his skill for judging talent to use. Without even asking, I knew he was qualified. I mean, he had movie posters and autographed pictures on his wall! That's all the proof I needed. It was out of my hands now. All I could do was wait for him to speak.

"You have..."

Here it came!

"You have the quality."

Yes! Finally someone recognizes my raw talent! Finally my father will understand my passion, and be able to accept me for who I am! Finally I can follow in my hero's footsteps. Finally...


"The quality is in your pants."

I hesitated for a moment. "I'm sorry, did you say...?"

"Yes. The quality. It is in your pants."

I wasn't quite sure what he meant by this. I had always thought of myself as a full body model and not just a specialty jeans model. But who was I to argue with greatness!

"Oh, okay. Great! My pants!" I shared his enthusiasm, and he seemed to feed off of it.

"Yes. Your pants. The quality. I must see the quality. Show it to me now. Close the door."

Now I was a little confused. "Are we going to do runway tests?"

"No runways. The quality, I cannot see it right now. It is inside your pants. You must show it to me so that I can evaluate the quality. Allow me to evaluate quality, I give you job. And I give you modeling job as well."

Now, I didn't go to high school, so it took a while for me to understand what was happening. But I finally got it. This very large man was clearly not interested in my modeling talents. And he was also clearly not Dom Deluise. It was at this moment that I had a decision to make. Honor the pride and the grit and the sacrifices I've made to achieve my dream, or exploit my 'quality' for work. If you've stuck with me this far, I think you know the answer to that..

Francois is a great judge of quality.


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© 2004 The Decking Crew