A Model Kind Of Day
It’s the day before the official start of NEW YORK FASHION WEEK, Winona’s favorite time of year. Her models are booked, she’s got entree into the hottest and most important shows, everything’s rocking right along until she encounters an over-zealous young police officer on West Broadway. Within an hour, Winona’s arrested and cooling her heels in a jail cell! But a beautiful young angel named Corky appears. And suddenly, getting arrested becomes a most gainful way to spend a late summer afternoon.
I’m having lunch today with my buddies Heidi Klum and Chanel Iman at Ladurée on West Broadway. We hee-hee and kee-kee as they watch me shovel in crab cakes and lobster linguini and wash it all down with champagne. Heidi sighs.“The way you eat is just disgusting. Why don’t you ever gain weight?” I shrug. “High metabolism. It’s why cigarettes were never a big deal for me.” Heidi throws shade. Right about now she’s jonesing for a ciggie. I know it and she knows I know it. Making us swipe through twenty pics of her baby girl, proud mommy Chanel is bragging about the hubs, Sterling Shepard, snagging that fat-ass deal with the Giants. 25 years old. Forty-one mil. I ain’t mad at her. Not one bit. But I order a dozen macarons to go. And we let her pay the bill.
Outside the restaurant, there’s a young cop leaning against a patrol car. He’s East Indian. Not something you see every day. I can feel his eyes on me as I say goodbye to Chanel and Heidi, who hop into a taxi together and head downtown. And just like that, he’s in my face. “Hello beautiful,” he says. “I’d love to take you out for coffee sometime.” Since I can’t think of anything to say that won’t tear him a new one, I remain silent and start stepping. But now he’s following me.
“I can’t take you out for coffee?” he asks. “Not even one cup?” I look both ways and skip across the street. I need to get away from him. There’s still way too much to do before tomorrow to get hung up by the po-po. But my feet are barely on the curb before I realize that the son-of-a-bitch is behind me. He grabs my arm. Roughly. And he spins me around. “Don’t you know that jaywalking is illegal?” he asks. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to write you a ticket.”
Winona is wearing CUSHNIE
When he hands me the “ticket”, it’s a blank sheet of paper with just a phone number on it. And a name. Ali. “Call me tomorrow,” he says. “We’ll discuss your fine over dinner.” Now, I could just let it go. I know that. But when do I ever just let it go? Especially with smug mofos like this? I hold the paper up to his fat mug and slowly, dramatically, I rip it to shreds. His cocky smirk fades as the pieces flutter out of my hands and down the street.
I turn to walk away again. All of a sudden I feel his angry paws grab me from behind. He shoves me towards the building. I stumble like a ragdoll, dropping the box of macarons before catching myself against the brick wall. My handbag hits the ground. My shit flies out everywhere. People around us stop in their tracks as this animal presses his full weight against me. He’s grinding into my ass and forcing my arms behind me. He puts me in handcuffs. “Playtime is over, Superstar,” he says. “Now you’re under arrest.”
At the 1st precinct, I get a light pat down by a blonde, female officer. “Nice dress,” she says. But she can’t look me in the eye. The desk sergeant, also a woman, can’t either. Why? They know the charges, resisting arrest, jaywalking, littering, are all bullshit. They empty my bag and make a list of my possessions. iPad, iPhone, wallet, card case, keyring, the contents of my makeup bag, and a smashed box of macarons. They hand me a voucher, photograph me and then fingerprint me. With ink! I thought this was all digital now? I’m careful not to touch anything until the blonde officer hands me an alcohol wetnap. Swabbing at the ink on my fingertips, I keep my lips clamped. I don’t dare say a word. I’m a Black woman in America. I know what that means in here.
There’s a phone in the cell. I get three calls and my first is to Victoria Ruiz, my attorney. She’s not in. I keep calm and leave a message with her secretary. Then I call the agency. My OM, Marc, goes into a full-blown panic. “What did you do?? What should I do?” I tell him first to get a grip. “I got arrested because I hurt an officer’s feelings. But Victoria will be here soon to get me out. Just hold it down and I’ll see you sometime this afternoon.” I disconnect that call and start to dial Riccardo’s number. But I stop myself. Do I really want him down here? Who knows what level of pissed-offness he’ll bring through that door? Same with Desi. I can’t risk either one of them. I call Belle. Oh boy. She’s gonna raise big hell when she gets here. But coming from a silver-haired white woman? They’ll take it.
I finish my calls and sit on the bench. The cell is too small not to eavesdrop on the convo between two chicks sitting just a few feet away. I listen for awhile. The older one is in for prostitution. The other for shoplifting. I butt in. “How long have you been doing that?” I ask. The thief blushes. “This was only my fourth or fifth time.” What an amateur. I shoplifted almost every weekend for two whole years without a pinch. A third woman is sitting in a corner like a bag of dirty laundry, so tight and jammed up that I can barely separate her from the dingy beige wall. She keeps looking at me.
The cell door opens and the officer uncuffs a slender young Black woman. Tank top, booty shorts, yellow, ass-grazing micro braids. Clearly she’s a working girl. And what a stunner. Laces from her high-heeled Roman sandals are wrapped around long, shapely legs. She can’t be a day over eighteen. Nineteen maybe. My gut starts to churn in that crazy way when untapped potential is staring me in the face. Instead of reminding myself of the cutie-pie thief I got entangled with some years back, I’m seeing this doll on the runway in Valentino. She nods in my direction.“That’s a nice dress,” she says. I nod back. “Yeah? You’d look great in it.” Her eyes grow wide. She wasn’t expecting that. “Sheee-it,” she sneers and crosses her arms in a huff.
I ask the other women in the cell. “Don’t you think she’d look great in this dress?” I stand up and give them a spin. “Oh yeah,” the prostitute says. “She’d wear the hell out of that!” Baby Girl is glaring at me. She’s this close to knocking my ass out. But I keep going. “Sure. She’s got the height, the bod, the face. She’d be dope—“ She finally snarls at me. “Look bitch. I ain’t interested in your scams, okay? Just back off!” She thinks I’m fake. Why wouldn’t she? And I have no way at the moment to prove her wrong. Just then a raspy cackle breaks the silence and we all turn to look at the bundle in the corner. She’s laughing at the young girl. “You don’t know who this is, do you? Winona Warner? Original supermodel? She only owns the top modeling agency in town.”
Everybody’s mouth drops open as the woman looks at me and sighs. “You don’t remember me. We used to work together a long time ago. My name is Sarah Cato. I did makeup for Charlie Jones.” OMG! Charlie Jones? He was one of the hottest photographers on the planet when I was working. Always in demand. And his crew was so primo that everyone from Herb Ritts to Demarchelier were trying to steal them away. But Charlie got hit by a car during a photo shoot in Miami. And this is where she ends up? It’s way too tragic. But damn. I can’t focus on her and my Next Great Face, too.
I sit next to the young girl. She’s more open now and tells me her name. Corky. How cute is that! After some idle chit-chat I confess to my own sticky-fingers back in the day. Her eyes are wide as I regale her with being discovered while ripping off the Versace boutique on Madison Avenue. By Gianni Versace himself. She has no idea who that is, or was, but it doesn’t matter. She’s rolling in my butter now and looking at me like a fat, juicy Odell Beckham sandwich. The blonde officer appears at the cell door. “Winona Warner? Come with me. You’re being released.”
My attorney, Victoria, is here. And so is Belle. She’s shouting. “Why was this woman arrested?” They return my handbag and I count my loot before handing the hundred dollar bill that I keep tucked away for emergencies to Victoria.”Can you break this?” I ask. I stuff the tens and twenties she gives me into an envelope and write SARAH across the front. In another envelope, for Corky, I leave a ticket to Jeremy Scott’s show tomorrow night. The cops are smiling. They’re so cooperative. Until Victoria drops the bomb. “Tell Officer Ali to lawyer up,” she says. “With outdoor surveillance we’ll see exactly what happened on West Broadway this afternoon. And if it’s anything like what my client says, your boy’s in trouble.” Well. Nobody’s smiling now.