Freshmen year can be categorized as the “Year To Make Mistakes.” If this phrase cannot be synonymous with your freshmen year of college, then I am going to pass judgment and assume you didn’t meet very many new people. Some of these mistakes were minor, and maybe the worst that came out of it was a photo of you curled up next to a toilet with neon red jello-shot drool coming out your mouth (you know who you are…).
Just like she who shall not be named, my biggest mistake freshmen year will forever be immortalized via photo. But instead of it living deep inside a friend’s phone whom is kind enough to not black mail me, I will live forever on a poster at the UW Bookstore.
It was a few days after class had started and I was having a panic attack in the bookstore.
So. Many. Isles.
Wait, what classes am I taking? Wait…what section am I in? THIS BOOK IS $300?????? Wait, are you in my class? No…of course not… Help me.
A woman approached me just as I was about to start dripping sweat and asked me if I had ever done any modeling. My mood rapidly changed. Flustered yet flattered, I told her no. She then handed me a card and told me to email her with a few photos of myself if I wanted to give it a try. You think you know what kind of person you are…and then someone asks to pay you for photos of your face and everything changes. Pretty soon you are contacting local agencies asking them to represent you and forking out countless dollars of Dad’s money for professional head shots. (Haha…kidding…but not…)
My first “photo shoot” with the Bookstore was pretty standard. I was free to pick out whatever outfit I wanted and some dude named Allen who had a fancy camera had me stand outside a brick wall and smile. I like to consider myself a pretty free spirited individual, and taking my pride in my new home and University, I obviously a grabbed a Cheesehead. If anyone has ever seen the 30 rock episode where Liz Lemon gets her own deal breakers show and has to do a photo shoot, then you have know exactly what I looked like that day. Absolutely ridiculous. In a Cheesehead.
Oh hindsight bias…why did I choose you, Cheesehead? Why? I really didn’t regret the decision until a friend called me two weeks later…”WOW THERE IS A LIFE SIZE SPREAD OF YOU IN A CHEESEHEAD IN THE NEWSPAPER! So. Cool.” I went into hiding after that.
I submerged myself (literally) in rec league water polo. I was sure that no one would recognize me there. And then one day, while passing and treading, my partner says “Do you have a twin? There is this girl that looks EXACTLY like you and she is all over these posters at the bookstore.”
Ha…Ha…yes. Twin. That’s it.
Then three months later while attending a UW Basketball game.
There is my face in the program. I am standing unusually close to a gentleman that I have never seen nor met.
Oh, the wonders of photo shop.
It was around this time that I regretted not arranging some kind of royalties. A $30 gift card to the bookstore was clearly not enough for the emotional and reputational damage that these photos had caused.
The worst part of it all? I didn’t learn my lesson. The same woman who approached me emailed me a few months later asking me if I would come back one more time. Direct quote: “Do you have any ethnic, male friends that would be interested in coming with you?” Smooth move, UW. The fact was, I did have a few “ethnic, male” friends.” And they were all tall, black men that played for the football team. Posing for UW bookstore photos was a direct violation of some NCAA contract. If that doesn’t say a lot about the diversity on our campus, I don’t know what does.
Not wanting to show up empty handed, I asked my then-boyfriend to come with me. He was in town visiting from California and had a kind of Portuguese-ish look to him…right? Kind of? I figured it would do. Not thinking about how six months later, when we broke up, that that photo would haunt me forever. How was I supposed to know that they would plaster that photo in the back of the Bucky Badger Coupon Book and that all of Madison Property Management would deliver that book to every one of their residents as a free holiday gifts.
Jokes on me.
Where would we be without those freshmen year mistakes? While, my dad would be $600 richer and I would never have anything interesting to say on the first day of class when professors ask “Tell us something interesting about yourself.”
Next time you are in the bookstore and you are thinking about bringing your backpack in? Think twice suckers. Then gimme a wave.