YOU ARE WEIRD
Text copyright © Oliver Heyn, 2016
Design and typography © Lukáš Vik, 2017
Cover © Oliver Heyn, 2017
Cover photograph by Tomáš Raszka
Proofreader: Vladimíra Krejčíková
Translated by Magdaléna Jirásková
First Edition © Lukáš Vik, 2017
ISBN ePub format: 978-80-7536-124-0 (ePub)
ISBN mobi format: 978-80-7536-125-7 (mobi)
ISBN PDF format: 978-80-7536-126-4 (PDF)
Konverzion to digital formats:
webdesigner Lukáš Vik
YOU ARE WEIRD
My name is Benedikt Heyn. I was born in Prague in 1990. My identical twin brother Adam saw the light of the world four minutes after me.
Our dad died when we were four years old. He died of a vicious type of cancer.
I have only one memory left of my father; him putting a small model of a bright orange car into the palm of my hand – in a hospital he was dying in.
After dad died, mom shut herself off from the rest of the world and kept living just for the two of us.
My brother and I loved each other very much, but we still kept telling each other: “You are weird.” We l l...it is weird when you have a brother who looks exactly like you.
My brother was always one step ahead of me no matter what. His mind was always the more adult one, the more rational. He was calmer than I was and much more sensitive; you could even say he was overly sensitive. It was me though, who according to our unwritten rule was the leader of our inner world.
Since we were little, we didn’t have many friends. We weren’t very popular among our peers and we were often laughed at. They taunted us because we looked the same. Truly, only few people could tell us apart. We were never angry with our classmates for being cruel to us just because we were identical twins. But their taunts bothered us. And so it happened that every day we chose to run away from this not-so-friendly reality to our own little world, full of dreams and wishes.
Both of us were the same dreamers. We dreamt about a vast gorgeous world, filled with success and money. To just settle with the way our reality was or even get used to our poor life filled with taunts, sneers and stupid comments, was unthinkable.
The life of identical twins is really noteasy in a lot of ways.
There always was a deep emotional connection between us. We would never admit it to ourselves, but we existed mostly for each other. We had our disagreements sometimes, but none of us would ever cause a rift between us. The biggest rows actually happened when we started comparing our freckles - who had more of them. It’s true that we did have our share of childish arguments like that.
Since we were little we were very interested in why people behaved the way they did; in psychology and interpersonal relationships in particular.I think we were fourteen when pretending to be the judge and the lawyer became our favorite game: the winner was the one, who was able to defeat the other with the mostsensible arguments without showing any signs ofaggression.
Adam was, among other things, very invested in the way we looked – he took care of that for the both of us. Dirty shoes or crumpled shirts were unacceptable. What would happen if I’d been dressed inappropriately and a girl thought it was him!
We were both slim and tall with light brown eyes... And an awful lot of freckles. We usually had our hair cut the same way and wore identical outfits on the same day. We liked to confuse and provoke the people around us.
Everywhere we went, we were the center ofattention. Usually, it felt very good. Especially girls were really interested in us. Our platonicsweethearts changed maybe once a week. Maybe that was the reason for the almost hateful comments of our classmates...”Damn freckled redheads!” That was the phrase we probably heard most often from our peers.
Our mum, as a single parent, didn’t have an overly large monthly budget, which is why we had to live pretty modestly. We tried to make some money doing part time jobs. One time we were checking movie tickets, the other handing out leaflets. We wanted to help mom with every paycheck we got, so we made sure to always give her at least a little bit to help with the household.
Mom gave everything she had towards our upbringing. She always did everything she could. But she also only ever saw us like a single player team. She scarcely called us by our names. Our whole lives we were just “boys” to her – there was no Ben or Adam.
At the time school was a complete waste of my time. Well, that was the way I saw it; mom had a different opinion of course. My grades at school were not very good, particularly in math. Naturally, I wasn’t the only one. Adam’s understanding of mathematics was not much different from my own. On the other hand we both adored geography; looking at maps and planning our future adventures was our favorite past time.
Our opinion was that we would count what we needed to count. That’s what the calculator is for, right? We would never need equations anyway, we often reassured each other, and if we did, someone would surely solve them for us.
Our perspective made mom a bit frustrated. She arranged tutoring in math for both of us, but it was mainly just a waste of both our time and our money. Effort is what matters though, which is why we both managed to successfully finish our primary school with a D in thiswondrous subject. Compulsory education was finally behind us.
Together we decided to attend a four-yearaprenticeship in Culinary arts and hotelmanagement. Our grades didn’t leave us much of a choice and we both found it interesting anyway. We saw ourselves as successful managers of a large hotel chain by the time we were thirty. My brother and I were obsessed with aiming really really high. Our dreams for the future were not modest at all.
We enjoyed learning foreign languages. Our grandma from our mother’s side was German, which is why we knew the language perfectly. Since we were little, she only spoke to us in German.
Because we knew another language and also with some understanding form our teachers, we were reluctant to be separated, we both managed to have our work placement at a luxurious restaurant in Old Town, in the center of Prague.
It was the first time in our lives that we saw such a beautiful and sublime interior as we did in that restaurant. For me it was a place that only the successful, rich and famous frequented. I was absolutely fascinated by the luxurious interior, the manner of dining, conduct of staff...
Since the first day working in that establishment I knew that I would never come to terms with just waiting the tables my whole life.
We were 15 years old. Standing in a spacious, dimly lit office with fine wood paneling, and proudly sitting behind the massive table which dominated the room was the owner of the restaurant.
She was a very handsome woman. On the other side of the room, behind a conference table, her husband was sitting.
Mrs. Schwarz asked us a question: “Where do you, boys, see yourselves in 5 years?” the question didn’t catch us by surprise and we both answered without hesitation.
“In your place, Mrs. Schwarz,” was my answer. Adam’s was basically the same: “Behind your table, Mrs. Schwarz.” Next were the five longest seconds in my life. We were both absolutely serious.
Mrs. Schwarz aimed her narrowed eyed look at Adam. “How can you talk to me like that Ben? Do you even understand what you are saying?” her voice was quivering with anger.
“Yes, we do Mrs. Schwarz. And I am Ben! You have been looking at Adam the whole time.”
Suddenly, male amused laughter rang through the room. “Boys, get out of here, don’t let me see you here again,” said Mr. Schwarz with the corners of his mouth still twitching with laughter.
It was only later that I realized it was us who left the room victorious. Sure, it was more luck than skill, but I was convinced that we caught Mrs. Schwarz’s eye. Maybe the reason was our over confidence, or more likely our similar apearance.
She was a very elegant lady. She had more than enough confidence and a very sharp tongue. What intrigued me the most though, were her dark brown, intelligent eyes. Her observant gaze, the way she confidently walked in her high heeled shoes and her perfume were all like an aphrodisiacs to me.
In my eyes she was a great lady and myadmiration towards her grew daily. What a “luxurious dame” and she owned such a luxurious restaurant!
It was autumn of the year 2005. We weresuposed to attend a party for parents of the students working in the restaurant. Including me and my brother, fifteen people came. Our mom didn’t want to accept the invitation, saying that it was too “fancy” for her. It would probably be her first time in a restaurant like that. Her excuse was that she didn’t have anything appropriate to wear. My brother and I didn’t give up though and kept on persuading her. In the end, we managed topersuade her and she decided to go. We were really glad and we hoped she’d have a nice evening.
It was a very pleasant evening. Soft piano sonata was drifting through the restaurant from carefully placed speakers. I felt like a youngsuccessful man for the first time in my life. Well, at least for this one evening.
It was 7 p.m. and the restaurant was almost full. Several times we noticed stares from other tables at me and Adam. People never cease to be fascinated by identical siblings. We both loved it.
We were getting much more intense looks from one table though. We both noticed. Two ladies around forty years old were sitting there. They were dressed very elegantly and we kept meeting their eyes.
It was evident we were the main topic of their conversation. Though what we didn’t know was that the most crucial moment of our life was about to happen.
“Why are they looking at us like that?” Adam said uneasily. I didn’t pay his words much attention; I was carefully watching our hostess, Mrs. Schwarz. She was walking self-assuredly between the tables, asking quests if everything was all right and the food to their liking. She was well aware of her good looks and she knew how to use it to her advantage. Many a quest looked after her as she walked by.
To me, her charisma was magical. I couldn’t keep my eyes of her. It didn’t even cross my mind that it could never happen. I was oblivious to the fact that I was just a student and she an owner of a luxurious restaurant, or the huge age difference between us. I was more and more aware of the fact that my thoughts only revolved around the idea of my first sex with her.
My brother was right. I was smitten with her and had “just that one” goal. Well, I was fifteen...
Just as my thoughts took the most naïve turn and my head was filled with all kinds of indecent thoughts, a waiter brought to our table a glass of the same white wine my mom was drinking and Coke for us with the words: “This is from the ladies at table three.” Mom didn’t understand what was happening and started asking discreet questions as to where table three was. I pointed out the table where the two ladies were sitting.
“Those are the two ladies who keep staring at us and watching our every move,” I told mom.
“Well, it’s very rude to just gawk at someone so blatantly... If they want to say something to me, they should come over here and say it,” my mom said grumpily.
As if they heard her, in a few moments the ladies from table three were standing at our table. Adam only managed to whisper: “Look at that, redhead, what babes!” One was a brunette, short hair, suit, slim and the second blonde, with her hair in a ponytail and a slim figure. They were both very elegant.
Speaking fluently in English, one of them said, “Good evening. We are very sorry for disturbing you and we’d also like to apologize for observing those young men here in such a rude manner. Please accept our apologies. I am the chief editor of a fashion magazine, Carol Leavitt.”
The second lady introduced herself as Suzanne Roussseau: “...and I represent a Paris modeling agency.” Mom gave us a questioning glance; she couldn’t speak English. My brother and I smiled in unison and quickly translated the last several sentences. “Can we go and talk to them for a second mom?” added Adam.
“Both of you stay where you are. Surely I won’t be in a way of your conversation. You’ll translate for me so I’ll understand.” We introduced our mom and then ourselves.
“Please sit down and tell me, why are you so interested in my boys...?” mom asked ina suspicious tone. We translated everything that was being said to English. It was difficult toremember a specific word sometimes so we had to do a bit of improvisation.
“Thank you for your time Mrs. Heyn,” Madam Leavitt started.
Mrs. Rousseau smoothly continued. “Mrs. Heyn, this is my first time in this kind of situation. I never approach potential models on the street or in restaurants. Your boys are unique. I am absolutely positive about that. The boys have a great chance... their unbelievably similar appearance, the same expressions, gorgeous smiles... They radiate confidence, trust me, they are very interesting. I am blown away by them, you must be proud of your sons.”
Mom started out awkwardly. ”Well, you know, I try to raise my boys as well as I can, but it’s not easy with them. They have their own head and they react badly to being separated.
I made a mistake somewhere. The boys are not able to function independently. I tried to instill solid morals in them. Of course I am proud of them, but I don’t think I’d be happy with this. I’ve read enough about models and I’m not so sure this kind of world would be good for my boys...”
“Mrs. Heyn,” Mrs. Rousseau replied immediate ly, “I am so sorry to hear that. I presume the boys are not of legal age yet? I would like to talk to you about a potential business offer for your sons. I would like you to promise me that you will at least consider it. It would be an amazing opportunity for them both. I would personally arrange for the boys to have a few days off from school. In Paris, I would personally look after their accommodation, their safety and all other affairs. You could count on me.
Here is my business card, if you’d be interested in talking to me again. Please call me any time and we will arrange a meeting. I will be in Prague till Monday.”
“Mrs. Heyn,” Madam Leavitt added, “once again, please accept our apology for disturbing your evening, but this is without a doubt anexceptional circumstance. Never in my life have I met such handsome and visually interesting twins.”
Mom hesitantly took the card from Mrs. Rousseau.
“Thank you. I will think about it and discuss it with the boys,” she answered.
The whole time my brother and I almost didn’t dare to breathe. We focused on every Mrs. Rousseau‘s word with rapt attention. When she mentioned Paris we simply looked at each other. We both realized what an enormous opportunity that was.
Obviously, mom didn’t like it very much. I prayed that she wouldn‘t dismiss the whole thing immediately.
Mom didn’t say much for the rest of the evening. We could see that the encounter wasn’t too pleasant for her. Maybe she was feeling awkward that she couldn’t talk to them herself – because of the language barrier.
Oddly enough the whole incident left me feeling so agitated, that I completely forgot to watch the evening’s hostess, Mrs. Schwarz.
“Adam, this is such a great opportunity. Do you understand? This is our ticket out, to the world where we might actually mean something one day! To the big world! Modeling is a huge deal!” I said excitedly.
“What about mom? We can’t just leave her here on her own. She’d be sad. She’ll worry about us,” said Adam.
“Redhead, think about it! Do you understand how much we could help mom? We could give her some of the money we’ll make. It would help her. She’ll take a break from us and we won’t have to go to school!” was my answer.
“Don’t call me redhead. You are weird. We have to talk to mom when we get home, discuss everything. This is important to me!” said Adam decisively.
Our plane to Paris was leaving from the Prague airport at 11:30 a.m. We couldn’t sleep the whole night. Until 10 p.m. the previous night we had to listen to mom’s preaching about good manners. For the rest of the night we imagined together what could await us in Paris.
We were filled with expectations. It would be our first time on a plane. New, unknown city, new faces...
In the morning mom accompanied us to the airport. She wasn’t able to say goodbye without crying though. Again she urged us to behave, not to embarrass her anywhere and mostimportantly to safely come back to her.
Adam was a bit afraid to fly. During the takeoff he grabbed my hand: “Tell me nothing is going to happen to us.” I looked into his eyes: “It won’t Adam. I’m sure nothing is going to happen to us.” I will never forget that moment. The look in his eyes. He wasn’t just afraid of the flight. There was something more. In that moment I realized how much I loved my brother and how much I deended on him.
We spent the whole flight talking about mom and about how much effort it took to convince her to send us to Paris alone. It wasn’t easy to persuade her to call the lady who gave her a business card in the restaurant. Luckily for us, the meeting took place and Mrs. Rousseau described everything to our mom as a completely normal short trip to Paris.
“Welcome to the Charles de Gaulle airport in P a r i s ,” a voice rang throughout the plane cabin.
A driver was waiting for us in the arrivals hall, holding a sign over his head “HEYN BROTHERS”.
“Look, there he is,” said Adam excitedly when he noticed the driver with our name.
The journey from the airport took about an hour. The whole ride was an emotional experience for us, we kept pointing out things through the windows during the ride. The whole experience was astonishing. The driver was a very likeable Hispanic man. He kept watching us in the rearview mirror. During the ride herepeated several times in broken English: “Incredibly s i m i l a r .”
The agency booked a hotel for us in Passy, the 16th arrondissement of Paris. We entered the hotel with bated breath. We were a bit nervous, but we followed the instructions we received from Mrs. Rousseau.
As for the accommodation, everything went without complications so far.
We had a room on the fourth floor with a view of the city. Before we started exploring the hotel room, we wrote mom a text.
We made it to the hotel room all right mom. The flight was fine. We’ll go for our first meeting with Mrs. Rousseau in a minute. Bye for now. We love you.
Before our flight, mom reminded us several times that she wanted to hear from us several times a day. Surely she’d been waiting for a message. On the contrary we didn’t have to wait too long for her answer.
Hi boys, most importantly take care ofyourselves. Don’t go anywhere alone. And write again soon. Sending kisses, Mom.
“Look, the bathroom here is as big as our room back home,” Adam shouted at me from thebathroom. I stood between the balcony and the room and simply looked into the distance.
I still couldn’t entirely believe it all. Two boys from the Prague suburbs in a luxurious hotel in Paris. Alone, without mom. Adam returned from the bathroom and asked me: “Will we always be staying in such a beautiful hotel when we come here?”
“Well, I don’t really think so Adam, but I can’t say I mind staying here!” I answered, smiling.
At 4 p.m. we had to be in the hotel lobby, where Mrs. Rousseau from the agency wassuposed to pick us up.
There were plans for an early dinner. We were supposed to be introduced to certain people from the agency that Mrs. Rousseau worked for.
A PhotoBook shoot in an atelier was planned for tomorrow.
I still couldn’t understand one thing. How was it possible that Mrs. Rousseau was so sure about us? Sure of our success...
I was worried we would let everyone down and ultimately let ourselves down.
Making a good first impression in the first meeting was very important to us. We both dressed in white shirts and blue jeans. Styled our hair the same way and used the same perfume CK One.
Lastly, Adam checked whether our shoes were clean and what overall impression our appearance gave off. Full of expectations we set out to the lobby for the meeting.
“Look, they have a sofa in the elevator. I guess for when you invite a girl over and then you can’t make it to the bedroom,” I told Adam with a smile.
“God, you really only think about one thing. You are weird,” Adam snapped at me.
The hotel lobby was very spacious. We walked by several bars and restaurants. The overallimression of the hotel environment was pleasant and luxurious.
So that Mrs. Rousseau wouldn’t have to look for us, we sat down close to the main entrance to the hotel and admired our surroundings. Neither one of us had ever been is such a beautiful hotel.
We didn’t have to wait long, Mrs. Rousseau arrived a bit late with an apology saying that travelling by car in Paris was often unpredictable.
“Welcome to Paris boys. How was your flight? And how do you like your room?” Mrs. Rousseau asked.
“Hello. Our bathroom is as big as our room in P r a g u e ,” answered Adam enthusiastically.
“And they have a sofa in the elevator,” I told Mrs. Rousseau.
“Well, I’m very glad you like it here. I would like to invite you boys to dinner. I had a table reserved for us in one good restaurant. During dinner you’ll meet one of my female and one of my male colleagues. We’ll talk about you and you’ll also meet the people who’ll take care of you later,” assured us Mrs. Rousseau.
Her English was very good, but too fast. We asked her if she could talk to us a bit slower. We understood practically everything, but she was simply talking too fast for us.
We walked in front of the hotel together. Mrs. Rousseau left her car in front of the main entrance. We had never ridden is such a beautiful and spacious vehicle before. It was a white Audi A8. The journey was over quickly and in a few minutes we stepped out in front of the restaurant.
The interior of the restaurant was gorgeous. We liked it even more than Mrs. Schwarz’s restaurant in Prague. This one was more stylish.
The aforementioned people from the agency were already waiting for us at the table. Mrs. Rousseau started introducing us to everyone present. Their gazes were inquiring and they greeted us in a friendly and pleasant manner.
We met Jean the booker. The lady introduced herself as Anne, the image consultant. Jean asked us straight away if we could speak French, or if we preferred communicating in English. We couldn’t speak French at all. On the other hand we were the only ones at the table who could speak German. We asked again whether they could all speak a bit slower, so we would manage the conversation in English.
Mrs. Rousseau started speaking and as the first thing told her colleagues the story of how she found us.
“Carole Leavitt and I were in Prague ina restaurant. As we were ordering, I noticed the boys on the other side of the restaurant. In the first moment I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. We stared at them for about an hour in disbelief and wondered at how similar they were. We both decided to approach them. Well, and I did! Two new little stars have just appeared on the sky of the modeling world,” were her words.
Her colleagues listened to her story with a smile and nodded in agreement. They said they weren’t surprised she approached us in such an untraditional way. They would have done the same, they said.
As the time passed we started discussing the specifics of our fate.
Mrs. Rousseau started with: ”Boys, no one is forcing you to do anything you don’t want to do. Look at it as being offered an opportunity, which might have arisen in almost every art field. But understand that everything has its pros and cons.
I see the biggest problem with your studies in Prague. Otherwise I am sure of your success.“
“You are right,” Jean continued. ”These boys can have a promising career in front of them. They are very interesting. I am not worried about a lack of lucrative job offers. I am very interested in tomorrow’s photo tests and how the PhotoBook will t u r n o u t .” Then Jean looked straight at us and continued talking directly to us. “Boys, you are very interesting, visually. And another great plus, at least for me, is that you are indistinguishable twins. Without a doubt you have the ability to attract a lot of attention.”
“I am sure about them. They are great. I think tomorrow’s shoot will only confirm that” Mrs. Rousseau added.
We heard so many compliments and so much praise that evening. I can’t deny that it felt good. I don’t think neither me nor my brother had any doubts at all. Before we left Prague we spent hours on the internet looking up references and information about the agency that wouldrepresent us in exchange for an exclusive contract
But I still had to ask: “Could you be a bit more specific? What exactly does a lucrative job offer mean? I have to admit my brother and I are a bit baffled by how sure you are of our success.”
“Of course boys,” Mrs. Rousseau answered. “It’s a good thing that you are asking. You will be appearing in fashion magazines in different corners of the world. Well known fashion houses will surely be interested in working with you. You would be in fashion shows. You could become the faces of many products. The world of modeling is, boys, very diverse.
As for your payment, we are talking here about a one year contract for exclusive representation by our agency worth one hundred and fifty thousand euros.”
We both swallowed. We tried to keep a straight face, to pretend we weren’t surprised. We couldn’t even imagine that much money, let alone that we could actually earn such anastronomical amount.
“Boys, by no means I want to hear a definite answer from you right now, but what do you think about all that?” Mrs. Rousseau finally asked us.
It was a huge strain. To tell the truth, we didn’t even know at the time what face expressions to make, let alone what to answer.
Suddenly a tear ran down Adam’s face as he said: “We’ll be able to make mom really happy, won’t we?” He looked at me questioningly and expected my agreement.
“Yes,” we said in unison and looked at Mrs. Rousseau.
She was smiling. “I think we’ll reach anagreement... and work together. But you have to explain everything to your mother first. You have to talk to her about everything.”
A feeling of satisfaction broke out over the faces of everyone present. We noticed anexpression of relief on Mrs. Rousseau’s face.
We agreed on a time table for tomorrow. After dinner Mrs. Rousseau took us back to the hotel.
“How do you feel about the meeting tonight?” I asked Adam.
“Do you know how many boys and girls around the world would like to achieve exactly what we managed to do during a single dinner? We were really lucky. I’m just worried about one thing; how are we going to explain everything to mom when we are back home...? I hope we’ll handle it.”
“You are right bro. We were really lucky. Don’t forget that you have me and I have you. There are two of us and we’ll do everything together. We can do it all, little star,” I answered Adam with a smile.
The rest of the night we spent talking about what would our classmates say if they knew. How much hate and envy would we be surrounded by. We doubted we would be able to handle it...
We also contemplated our studies.
We were thinking. How could we present it in the best way possible and explain everything to mom?
We quickly wrote mom a text message that we were all right and went to bed – with great anticipation about what new would tomorrow and a day in an atelier bring.
Because of our nerves about the photoshoot the next day and experiences from that evening, we couldn’t fall asleep at all. “Bro? Are you asleep?” I asked quietly.
“No. I can’t sleep, I’m so out of it. One hundred and fifty thousand euros! We’re making good profit from these freckles, huh? Think about what we’ll be able to buy...!”
The photo shoot in the atelier was fun. We enjoyed it a lot. The photographer was a realprofessional. As one in a few he wasn’t taken aback by our appearance at all. He didn’t ask us any questions like if we had the same fingerprints or any other questions that my brother and I were frankly getting allergic to.
During the photoshoot and during the break he showed us the previews of the photos. I have to admit we looked really good. He also asked us what kind of music we liked listening to and if we liked to dance.
When you take into the account what kind of music Adam and I listened to, it wasunderstandable that we didn’t much enjoy dancing. We had our headphones in almost all the time, but the music playing was mostly classical or cinematic orchestral melodies.
The photographer wanted us to dance though. We tried to be accommodating and started dancing to the music that was playing in the atelier. I was not so sure you could call what we were doing “dancing” but it seemed like we were meeting his expectations at least.
We spent about six hours in the atelier. We met a bunch of boys and girls who were also just starting out. I think we knew from the start that it wasn’t such a good idea to talk to just anyone straight away.
Nevertheless, during one of the breaks we struck up a conversation with a beautiful young girl. Her name was Natascha and she was from Russia. After she told us how confused she was by our faces, she wanted to exchange telephone numbers. We both liked her a lot. In our minds she was already naked in the bed with us. We didn’t hesitate and exchanged our numbers straight away.
She made us laugh when she saved us in her phone as Super Twins. It was only appropriate that she’d be under an “s” in our contacts as Super Girl.
There was also a boy from Brazil in the atelier with us. During the breaks in between thephotoshoots he kept pushing his shirt up and taking photos of his muscled torso with his phone. But he always waited until someone could see him do it. We silently observed him from afar, however he noticed us looking. He approached us and said: “Hi, boys. I’m free after 9 tonight. Let’s meet up. We’ll have a joint and then some fun.”
“Please forgive us, but we have other plans for the evening. Really sorry about that. Your body is fantastic by the way. You must work out a lot, right? You look really good,” I tried to answer him diplomatically. He just looked at usuncomrehendingly and walked away without reacting at all. Adam leaned closer to me and whispered: “I guess we made the wolf mad, huh?” In that moment I remembered Marshall Rosenberg and his process of nonviolent communication – his well-known simulations of conversations between a wolf and a giraffe. This author of several great books and an amazing psychologist was someone we really admired.
The photoshoot went well. We hoped wefulfilled the expectations of everyone who had any of us.
During the day we found out a lot of useful information. For instance about a modeling school. General talk of modeling from different viewpoints. What awaited us, was the last night of our trip Paris trip. We didn’t see much of the city, but we were anxious to go exploring on our own in the evening. We promised mom we wouldn‘t be wandering around the city alone.
In the end we stayed in our hotel room by ourselves again. We were lying on the enormous bed and reading through a draft of our contract with the agency.
Mrs. Rousseau even arranged for the contract to be translated to Czech during our stay in Paris, so our mom could read througheverything and understand it properly. Unfortunately the agency didn’t have its own representation in the Czech Republic, only a partner agency.
We discussed every line of the contract and even read several passages aloud to each other.
At the same time, we were thinking about what would be the best tactic to use to explain everything to mom properly when we got home. We also thought about how we were leaving the next day and we didn’t even buy mom anypresents yet.
We decided that we had to buy something small for her at the airport at least. We didn’t want to return empty handed. Even though we did have a very professional photo of the two of us from the atelier; and we knew that the photo would make her the happiest, we still wanted to bring her a present from Paris.
Our agreement with Mrs. Rousseau was that she’d have a coffee with us in the morning, before taking us to the airport. Adam and I had already made up our minds; we would become models.
“Boys, you’ve done so well. I have to say I am proud not only of you, but also of myself. Maybe you don’t even realize it, but you were verysuccessful. I knew it. You are amazing. Please tell your mother how thankful I am for her trust in me, when she let you go to Paris on your own. Don’t worry, I am sure everything will be all right and we’ll see each other soon.
When you are home, talk to your mother and explain everything to her. I am looking forward to working with you,” Mrs. Rousseau encouraged us.
After that we talked about traveling. Mrs. Rousseau told us how she journeyed all around the world. She mentioned how difficult longdistance flights were and several of the experiences from her travels.
After about an hour she checked her Cartier watch and said: “Boys, it’s time to leave for the airport. I’ll also help you with the check-in and then we’ll part ways. When you arrive home, please send me a message so I know you arrived safely.”
Going back to Prague was not something we looked forward to. We wanted to see our mom of course, but the rest - not so much. School and the whole boring stereotype of everyday life. We sat in the departures hall next to our gate and watched the plane that would take us back to Prague. God, we didn’t want to go back so badly!
During the flight we laughed and joked about everything we experienced during the photoshoot. Adam wasn’t as afraid of flying this time and he also wasn’t as stressed as during the flight to Paris. We talked about the girls we met in the atelier. Mostly about Natascha. We agreed we had to call her as soon as we got back to Paris.
After we arrived back to Prague, we stated only one thing. We had to do anything andeverything in our power to go back to Paris as soon as possible.
Mom took a day off from work, something she didn’t do very often, and waited for us at the airport. We were so glad to see her. However, after a heartfelt hug she said the words we were most afraid to hear.
“Oh, thank God you’re back! I was so worried! I won’t let you out of my sight ever again!”
We were absolutely positive we would have to make a huge effort to convince mom. First, we had to convince her somehow that it really was the right thing for us.
After we arrived home, we sat mom down and told her all about our experiences. About or flight from Paris, the hotel, food...
We jumped from one topic to another and constantly talked over each other. We laughed a lot as while describing our experiences. Mom burst into tears when we presented her with our photo from the atelier.
“Thank you boys. This is the most beautiful gift I could ever receive from you. And now I have a job for you: You’ll have to get me a really pretty frame for the photo!”
My brother and I cautiously proceeded to the next stage of our persuasion.
“By the way mom, Mrs. Rousseau wanted us to tell you hello for her. She also wanted to thank you for trusting her and for the opportunity you have given us.”
“What opportunity?” mom asked.
“Well, here is a draft for a possible contract that we brought with us, take a look, it’s all translated to Czech,” we said carefully.
Mom put on her reading glasses and began reading through the contract. After a while she raised her head and looked at us questioningly.
“How am I supposed to understand “yearlong contract” and “one hundred and fiftythousand”? Do you really think someone is going to give you a hundred and fifty thousand for a few photos?”
“Yes mom. It means that during a period of one year, the agency is required to get us jobs, which in total would be worth one hundred and fiftythous a n d ,” confirmed Adam.
“Boys, don’t be so naïve! Who is going to give you that much money? Or...what do you mean? And what about school gentlemen?”
“Mrs. Rousseau and her colleague Jean, who would be handling our work, said we could start next week. And mom I also wanted to mention... you overlooked a small but substantial detail. The one hundred and fifty thousand is in euros, not in Czech crowns.” Adam specified.
“One hundred and fifty thousand euros? Do you two even realize how much money that is? Boys, you must have all gone mad in that Paris!”
Mom fixed me with a look. “I feel like you’ve been suspiciously quiet this whole time Ben...”
“Mom, the offer is from France. The money’s different there than it is here. Mrs. Rousseau said that we would get interesting offers from fashion magazines, represent fashion brands in shows... Everyone we met in Paris was thrilled by us!
The photo we gave you is from a photoshoot we did with a professional photographer in an atelier,” I said finally.
“It’s really pretty isn’t it mom?” Adam swiftly continued. “Ben is telling you the truth. It’s a world we know nothing about. In Paris we tasted just a little piece from a really large cake. And we liked it a lot. Mom, please, we beg you, please let us try it! It’s just one year. It doesn’t mean you wouldn’t see us for a year though...”
“The money that we would have theopportunity to earn could help us a lot mom. We liked Paris and the job was fun.Look, we actually got you this pretty lighter...” I said as I was giving mom one of our “gifts from Paris”.
“... and here are some French cookies...” Adam added.
“I can’t believe it! Thank you for the presents, but I don’t like this at all! You must have decided all this behind my back, together with your Mrs. Rousseau!” mom started to frown.
“Mom, we were just worried how you were going to react. We are telling you the truth; it’s really just for one year. And we’ll start going to school again right after that,” promised Adam.
At that moment my phone rang. It was Mrs. Rousseau. I put her on the speakerphone and continuously translated everything Mrs. Rousseau was saying for mom.
“I was just saying that you must have agreed on this all behind my back...” mom repeated loudly for Mrs. Rousseau.
“Hello. We were just sitting home with mom and discussing the contract,” I told Mrs. Rousseau in English.
“Hello Mrs. Heyn,” Mrs. Rousseau started talking directly to mom. “I am just calling to make sure that you have your boys home with you and that everything is all right.” I translated the sentence for mom quickly.
“Yes, yes! The boys are home and we were just discussing a couple of trivial things like one hundred and fifty thousand euros,” mom laughed ironically.
“Well, I didn’t want to interrupt your family discussion. I just wanted to make sure that boys made it home safely. They didn’t contact me and according to my time they should have been home already. That’s why I called.”
“That’s all right. No harm done, but could you please explain the whole thing to me? What the boys are telling me here simply can’t be right ...” mom asked her.
“Mrs. Heyn, I am not exactly sure what you mean. If you are talking about the contract that boys brought with them, it’s a contract forexclusive representation by our agency for a period of one year. Specifically, by the Paris branch. The Agency agrees that the boys will get jobs, with the total worth of at least one hundred and fifty thousand euros.
If you are not sure about anything in thecontract, you can give it to a lawyer. Your boys are made for modeling work Mrs. Heyn. They are unique. We are not offering anything impossible, even if you might think it is.”
We translated everything Mrs. Rousseau said to mom word for word.
“And who will take care of my boys when they are wandering around the world? I keep hearing you say how unique they are. But I would also like to have them home sometimes!”
“Mrs. Heyn, I understand you – I am a mother myself. I don’t want you to think I am trying to influence your decision. I understandcompletel y.”
Mom started crying. “I always wanted what was best for my boys. I would like them to be happy. I’m just so worried about them.
And how will you explain their education?”
“I suggest deferring their studies. I have seen it several times. In Paris I would be able to secure retraining courses for them.... Language courses, anything they’d be interested in.”
“All right, thank you for the explanation. I will contact you soon.”
“No, thank you Mrs. Heyn. I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.”
We said goodbye to Mrs. Rousseau and ended the call. Mom looked at us helplessly.
After a moment of silence Adam spoke up: “Look at that, I almost forgot this in my backpack. Look mom... We brought you this pen with ‘Paris’ written on it...” We wanted to distract mom from the difficult topic at any costs.
“Boys, you’ll be the death of me. Tell me, what should I do with you? You can’t interrupt your studies just like that,” mom sighed loudly.
What happened was something I expected and actually counted on a bit at the same time. Mom simply resigned. She didn’t have the strength to resist persuasion from three people at once.
Mrs. Rousseau’s call helped us a lot. Though we had a hard time translating everything, her call came at just the right moment.
Mom gave us her permission. She was worried she would be depriving us of the biggestopportunity of our life.
Adam and I understood her fears completely. She was worried about us. We were feeling guilty the whole time that we were convincing her of something she internally disagreed with. But that didn’t matter much. It was such an amazing opportunity!
We deferred our studies for a year. Mrs. Schwarz, however, wasn’t very understanding when we informed her of that fact. We actually felt bad after what she told us. “I can’t keep you here. However, in a years’ time I will behave towards you the same way you just did towards me, leaving practically overnight. You can count on that.”
We were leaving for Paris in two weeks’ time. However, if I had known what would happen to us, I would never have made our mom make such a hard decision. We never should have sat in that restaurant and Mrs. Rousseau never should have noticed us.
I LOVE YOU
Our life in Paris made us more than happy. It was almost two years since we started living here. We liked it there a lot and weren’t planning on changing anything.
We gave up on school and kept fulfilling our dreams instead. We became successful models. The certainty of options and Mrs.Rousseau’s apraisal of us had been admirable. We attended many castings and almost always got the job. They either choose both or just one of us. Thanks to our success we could fulfill our dreams.Modeling was fun and we enjoyed everything immensely.
We were able to travel through Paris with absolute confidence now, we managed to adapt very quickly. French on the other hand, was a language we couldn’t speak even after two years. All we knew was a couple of basic phrases; we managed to perfect our English though.
Sometimes we visited a club together and it was only rarely that we left alone. Meeting new people wasn’t a problem for us.
New week usually meant a new girl in our bed. Sometimes together, sometimes separately. That’s the second best thing about modeling – girls. The best thing is the money. We met a lot of really pretty girls.
Almost every two months we traveled outside of France. We traveled through the whole of Europe. Other than that it was the classicmodeling marathon of fashion weeks, campaigns... and castings.
Few times a year we flew back to Prague to see mom. During every single visit we invited her to Paris for at least a couple of days. But mom kept putting the visit off for as long as she could. She always managed to come up with a reason why she couldn’t come. The main reason, we were sure, was that she didn’t want us to spend money on her.
Once a month each of us sent mom three hundred euros. We wanted her to stop working in the demanding hospital environment. But