Call Me Snake Eyes---I Really Don't Mind.
I'll tell you, being a model at this level of the industry is absolutely exhausting, which is why I suppose it’s my longevity that I’m more proud of than anything else. It’s hard to imagine I did my first shoot at age eight, and now tomorrow I’ll be doing a shoot with my own son. And I know he’s going to be good, too. Back when I was the child on the early Battleship box, the business was different---we just wanted to do quality work, which meant following the two As: 1) Arrive on time, and 2) Appear wildly delighted that the dice and/or spinner just gave you a result favorable enough to cause you to throw your arms up in the air. That was modeling in a nutshell. Following those rules got me on the boxes of Chutes and Ladders, Stratego, and SuperSport Soccer all in the same year, and I never looked back. Nowadays, though, it’s about “attitude,” whatever that means. Over the last eleven years I’ve modeled for thirty-nine different board game boxes (including the 25th anniversary re-issue of Cops ‘n’ Robbers ‘n’ Franks ‘n’ Beans, easily the most grueling shoot of my career) and on every one I displayed the exact same expression: vapid parental pride as my hired offspring rolled a seven and became freakishly excited. Sometimes, if the photographer was adventurous, I was allowed to reach a hand out to the model playing my son or daughter and place a gentle hand on their shoulder. And that was it. That bought me a two bedroom place off Texarkana Street for me and Janey and the sweet little Ford Focus you see parked in the driveway. Now, though, all the photographers want you to be a little edgy on the boxes, a little angry. They want you to silently express dissatisfaction with society and an inner malaise that no session of Mall Madness can alleviate. Some of them are actually having the models express frustration over having landed on a bad space instead of showing glee that the game is going well and the whole family is having a wonderful time. Plus you can forget about having a genial grandparent shown on the box, sitting at the table, finally included in a family activity. The demographics have squeezed them out entirely, which is really a shame, because these shoots can get so chaotic that you really need veteran experience in the room. Where did all this cynicism come from, I wonder? Last month we took three days in the studio to do the box for Monkeys On My Sternum and the kid was told to scowl and cross his arms as he spun the spinner and I was asked to look off into the distance bitterly, which the producer claimed was a “more realistic depiction of today’s suburban disenfranchisement.” Meanwhile the little girl who is usually just told to watch appreciatively as if she’s waiting for her turn was given a cell phone and instructed to talk into it while holding her free hand over her ear to screen out the noise. And an elderly grandparent was brought in all right---but they had the woman plugged into an I.V. and sitting off in one corner in front of the TV, eyes half-open, totally unaware of her surroundings. Hey, I’m all for hyper-realism---I love the Rush Hour movies as much as the next guy---but aren’t we trying to sell a little happiness here? And please, what’s with this multi-cultural thing? Why am I, a white dude, depicted as having a family which includes a Maori girl and an Asian uncle?
I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a little angry because my three-year string of sleeping with every one of the models playing my wife came to such an abrupt end. I told you the time for the hair weave was last October. I told you.