There was Katherine with her butter-yellow hair and golden skin and cornflower blue eyes and who always dressed in pale linen that on her, wrinkled in just the right places, and who, whether she wore make-up or not, I can’t say, because she looked like she woke up like that and I couldn’t see any trace.
There was Laura, who worked for my editor but had been promoted to some associate or something and who, as far as I could tell, only owned one suit (or many of the same) but it was by Chanel and fit her perfectly, emphasizing her perfectly proportioned body. Laura who had rich-chestnut wavy hair that always looked tossled, never never messy, and fell in her eye in a way that even I found sexy, and who ran around with and Hermes day planner and seemed the model of efficiency.
There was Dawn, who was a real assistant in the features department and who truly never wore make-up, except sometimes a ruby colored lipstick and that’s it and it was perfect. She was brilliant, beautiful, kind, patient, effective, and during my tenure, was promoted from assistant slave, like me, to a real editor and given her own glass office complete with black laqeur desk and her face lit up and she ran saying, “Isn’t it the best!” and I was happy for her.
The rest are a blur of gorgeous young things who I doubt had ever known the pain of being ordinary, or it had never even occurred to them. How they got here, I don’t know. If it was smarts, looks, connections…who could say. But they all seemed better than me.
One day, Steven Florio, whose children I had babysat and who told me of the program in the first place, was driving me into work. He was a senior editor at G.Q. at the time, though it was clear that one day he’d be exactly where he is now – CEO, because that was just him. I spilled; cried in his car; I blabbered like a baby. I don’t belong, I don’t fit in, and on and on. And he said,
“What?” I said.
“Fake it.” I listened. “Let me tell you somethi.ng,” he said, eyes on the road. “Everyone is faking it. You fake it long enough, you learn it, then next thing you know, you’re not faking it anymore.”
It was a version of Goethe’s “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” He didn’t mean be a fake; he meant, try it on. He meant, you will learn. Not everyone can do this; anyone can fake, for certain, but eventually, you have to produce and I understood that and so did he. He believed in me and knew that if I could just get beyond feeling like I didn’t fit in, if I could just pretend for a while, one glorious day, I would realize, that I was no longer faking it and it was real.