It was a lovely day. You know, one of those days that’s around 90 degrees with 100% humidity. One of those days when a typhoon is forecast, so in addition to the heat and the humidity, it’s overcast with a slow, constant drizzle. One of those days that no matter how much product you use, your hair will look awful. Yet there I was, trudging through Japan’s subway maze, dripping in sweat. I was carrying Elisabeth on my front and her diaper bag on my back, wearing rain boots apparently made of lead that were slowly suffocating my feet.
I wasn’t alone. My friend Michelle was with me, carrying her daughter Allie on her front. You see, where we were going there are no elevators. No elevators means no strollers. No strollers means wearing your baby pressed against you for hours, radiating body heat, causing perspiration to soak through your already rain-soaked shirt. Our other friend Gillian was also with us. Though she had no baby attached to her, she too was wearing feet-suffocating rain boots. Just in case the typhoon hit during our excursion.
We forged on until we reached our destination in Tokyo, slogged up one final stairway out of the subway and emerged onto a truly terrifying sight: A cluster of Ergo-wearing, Petunia Pickle-carrying, Caucasian moms. All doing the mom bounce.
Had I entered the twilight zone? Why is it that the first thing I see when exiting a subway in Japan is a mass of American moms? And wait! I was one of them! What was happening?
Welcome to the world of modeling auditions. Or rather, Foreign Baby Modeling Auditions. Before you get all oh no she isn’t! on me for taking my kid to a modeling audition, let me explain. This is a really, really common thing for foreigners living in Japan to do. The Japanese love them some white babies! In fact, twice a year the base hosts a modeling fair where all the agencies come and beg you to let them represent your children. Well, that may be an exaggeration, since I haven’t actually been to a modeling fair, but you get the drift. Foreign babies are in high demand. And here on base, foreign babies happen to be in high supply.
You don’t believe me. You’re judging me. I can feel it. You think I’m one of those moms. The moms that force their children to live out their unfulfilled childhood fantasies for them. Well last time I checked, I never had any dreams of being a baby stroller and car seat model in Japan, so there! You can reserve your judgment for my blog post when I reveal that I don’t use cloth diapers or serve my baby exclusively organic food.
But back to the modeling. Elisabeth had been asked to attend an audition. Michelle’s baby Allie had also been invited to the audition. I assume Gillian tagged along to observe the spectacle of it all. Or else she just enjoys extended walks through Tokyo in really terrible weather. This being Elisabeth’s first audition, I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly wasn’t anticipating being thrust into Dance Moms* right off the subway. Though the ladies were all politely chatting, you know as well as I do that they were sizing up the competition.
Michelle and I lingered back away from the group. What have I gotten myself into? We all made our way to the audition, one big traveling mommy mass, and squeezed into a tiny, cramped, hot room while one by one the babies got taken back to be photographed. Elisabeth and Allie were definitely the cutest babies in the room. Even Gillian said so, and she’s not biased at all. When Elisabeth got taken back, she nailed it. She was her smiley, giggly self (despite no nap!). And then this young, blonde wisp of a thing was standing next to her stroller.
Uh, excuse me? Is that supposed to be her mom?! The young blonde model girl began posing with the stroller. Well this is weird.
“Pick her up, please,” the photographer instructed young blonde model girl.
She has to pick her up!? I thought in a panic.
“I have to pick her up!?” young blonde model girl asked, also in a panic. That was not reassuring. The model awkwardly picked up my precious baby, and though Elisabeth didn’t seem to mind that she was being held at completely unnatural angles, I hovered big time to make sure young blonde model girl wasn’t going to drop my kid.
And then it was over. Michelle and I (and Gillian) gathered our things – and babies – and retreated to a Starbucks for some much-needed rest after our exhausting audition day.
Elisabeth didn’t get the job. (The travesty! The injustice! Who do I call about this!? There must be some mistake!) Neither did Allie. (What were the photographers thinking?!) But there will be more auditions, I’m sure.
In fact, Elisabeth has her first job tomorrow. She was picked by photo selection, meaning we didn’t have to risk any tropical storms to go to an audition. And let’s be honest. After 21 hours of labor (which I have not yet forgotten!) it’s about time she did something to earn her keep. “We can put the money toward her college fund,” Damon said when I told him the news.
“Ummm, what about my amazon.com fund?” I asked.
How this audition goes and what we’ll do with her earnings are to be determined. I’ll keep you updated. It’s sure to be entertaining.
*I kid. These ladies are not Dance Moms. As far as I can tell, most of them are very well-adjusted, loving mothers with all equally cute babies. Except Elisabeth. She’s definitely the cutest.