The Catalyst

A Writing Teacher Writes (plus some writing prompts and recipes)

Just Another Day at the Office February 9, 2020

The prompt this time was the bizarre clothes catalog, Shinesty, with a tongue-in-cheek holiday theme that I still can’t  figure out. Just as we approached the winter holidays, each writer took several pages from the catalog and wrote in response. I still don’t know how to describe the clothing in this catalog; it could be consumerism at its worst, or it could be a clever joke. Either way, it looks like Shinesty is here to stay. You can check it out for yourself here.  

I focused on this cover image. What I wrote it below.

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As usual, Ben was not cooperating. I knew from previous photo shoots that he was a prima donna. Not that he wasn’t beautiful to look at: the thick cocoa-brown hair, those long eyelashes, the silky beard. His legs were solid muscle, and even though his nose was wide, it was luscious. Edible, really.

“He’s sniffing under my skirt again!” Jasmine screamed. I had only looked down for a minute, and there they were: Ben (looking sheepish) and Jasmine, both of her hands trying to push away his huge head. “Can’t you just photoshop him in later?” she pleaded.

“Carl!” I hollered. “Would you please do something about this?”

Carl walked over with an apple, and Ben, 2,000 pounds of Bison beauty, started towards him, looking excited.

“Watch your feet now, everyone,” my assistant, Kareem announced. “Big hooves are moving!”

It was one of those perfect windswept days in the Central Valley. The backdrop was golden grass, shorn to a few inches, a low line of trees in the distance, and a blue sky painted with wisps of cirrus clouds. Cool, but sunny, the shadows perfectly composed. It was a photographer’s dream.

“Sorry, Don,” the handler said. “He’s extra feisty today.”

“He’s feisty alright,” I said. “Okay, everyone. Let’s take ten and regroup. Makeup?” It was time for a touch-up. Jasmine needed to be de-shined; Ben got his apple and a thorough face brushing, to which he groaned with pleasure, the god damned beast.

It was my third time working with Ben and Carl this year. Apparently, Bison models are all the rage. Ben even has his own Instagram account. Comments on Ben’s posts range from, “Vegetarians against Buffalo beef!” to “We love Benny!” to “WTF? How come I’m sort of in love with you?” to “Ben for president!” It seems everyone is in love with the idea of a catalog cover featuring this handsome ox, but in all honesty, I think it sets a bad precedent.

“Don?” Jasmine was suddenly over my shoulder. “I can’t work this way! He’s freaking me out.” She had tears welling up in her eyes.

“Jazz,” I said, “Don’t do this to yourself. You’re a professional. You’ve worked with much worse. Remember the monkey in Nepal?”

“That little asshole,” she said, and as she laughed, two big tears popped out of her eyes.

“Makeup!” I yelled again. “For Christ’s sake: Makeup!” Jasmine laughed again and wiped her eyes.

“It’s a crazy business,” I said. “Isn’t it kid?” She nodded.

It was going to be a long afternoon.