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Your Daughter's a Star!

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Dear Momma,
I'm gonna tell you a story, Momma, because the craziest, most darndest thing happened to me the other day, and I think my life’ll never be the same because of it. I've always heard of New York being the city of opportunity, and that if you stick around for long enough good things’ll happen to you, but Momma, I never believed it. My whole life I always thought I’d be a nobody forever, and that I’d always be alone and ugly – but something happened. And it all started with a handsome man wearing a neat black suit.
It was Saturday and I was at my girlfriend Melinda’s house, and she’d just had a big fight with her husband. We were sitting on her living room sofa, drinking gin and talking. We’d been there a while and the bottle was just about empty. And then, I guess I must have said something that upset her, because she up and throws me outa the house, tells me to mind my place. I don’t know what I said, but it was enough to set her off. Let me tell you, Momma, a girl deprived of good love but filled to the brim with Bombay, that’s a woman to steer clear of. They’re unpredictable as a blinded child holding a machine gun. She kicked me out, and my head was spinning all over the place, but I didn't dare go back in there. I didn't dare go see what that woman’s capable of. I decided to walk home since the night was still young and I’d paid so god-awful much just for the taxi to get me there.
I was walking down 7th avenue, and it was a real nice night. I couldn’t for the life of me walk in a straight line and when I walked past a shop window I could see that my hair was all messy and frizzed-up, but I didn't even care. It was just such a gorgeous night out, I didn't care how hideous I looked.
But then, comin’ around the corner of 7th and 23rd, swear-to-god I just about bumped nose-to-nose into the most handsomest man I ever saw. He was so broad and square-shaped, I thought he might‘a had superhero tights on under his suit. Anyway, he came about four inches from my face, and so I said to him, “Whoa, mister. Do I know yeh?” And here’s what he said back: “I don’t believe so,” he says, “but I certainly would like to. And so, I think, would the city of New York.”
I had no idea what this hotshot meant by it, so I said, “What you talkin bout, crazy? Ain’t no city of New York wanna get to know me.” At which he says back, “Have you ever considered a career in modeling?” I tell you, Momma, those them are the greatest words a girl can here. “Have I ever considered a career in modeling?” I said back, kinda shyly. “Do girls all across America dream about being rescued by handsome princes? Yes I've considered a career in modeling. Ain’t never gonna happen to me, though. What ‘chu askin a question like that for?” And then he looks around and hesitates for a second before saying, “Are you doing anything right now?” And Momma, you’ll never believe it, the next thing I know I’m following this man all the way to Magdalena Studios, right in the heart of the Garment District!
We get there in about ten minutes, and as he holds the tall glass front door open for me I ask him what his name is. “Castelle,” he says in his deep, ladies-man voice. “But you can call me Rico.” And my knees nearly buckle as I take a step inside. And when I looked around at all the pretty people in all their pretty clothes, my knees just about buckled again. This place was magical, Momma. Magical.
Fifteen minutes later I found myself in an all-white room way down at the end of a long hallway. There were about fifteen people in the room and some short lady was telling me to stripe down. “The hell, strip down,” I said to her. “Not with all these people watching, I don’t think so.” But then I was told if I wanted to be on a billboard I was going to have to get dressed fast – and that there were no changing rooms. And that if I was going to be “difficult” I’d be shown the door.
And so I changed clothes, right there in that room filled with busy, beautiful strangers, into the most hideous outfit you’ve ever laid your eyes on. And then some lady came by with a makeup kit and painted my lips all Barbie doll pink. Next thing I knew I was standing there looking stupefied as the photographer went snap snap snap and my eyes were blinded by a million flashing lights. And then the photographer left and a lady told me to get changed and get out as fast as I can. You know, for such good-looking people, they sure are nasty.
Well that’s the story, Momma. That’s the story of how your daughter got to be on a billboard in New York. I wish I’d run into that Castelle man again, I could tell him and thank him for how he changed my life. Momma, I feel so pretty today, I doubt I’ll ever be anything but happy again. And if you’re ever feelin ugly, Momma, just remember, you got a daughter who’s on the New York City billboards, and that the reason she’s so pretty is all thanks to you. I love you Momma, and I’ll see you at Christmas.

-Darlene



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