Sunday, June 11, 2023

"Martha and Me"

By Jerry Zezima

At my age (rapidly approaching a seventh decade of immaturity), I never thought I could be a swimsuit model, the mere sight of which would clear a beach faster than Jaws.

But then I saw Martha Stewart on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, which I bought for strictly professional purposes, and realized you could be 81, as Martha is, and still look fabulous.

Now I want to follow in her sandy footsteps and grace the cover of a major national magazine to prove that age doesn’t necessarily go before beauty.

Even though I have maintained my boyish figure, I won’t wear a bikini, as some of the SI models do. A Speedo would be more my speed.

“Let me tell you,” my wife, Sue, told me, “I’ll never be seen in public with you in a Speedo.”

It couldn’t be any worse than my baggy swim trunks. They wouldn’t get me on the cover of any publication except, possibly, GQ (Geezers’ Quarterly).

I began my quest to be a famous cover boy by going straight to the source: Martha Stewart herself.

In an email to Martha, which I sent to her public relations agency, I wrote: “I think it’s great that you are in this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. … I would love to speak with you about what it takes to be a swimsuit model and if you think I could be one.”

So far, I haven’t heard back. I also left two unanswered phone messages.

“She’s probably with Snoop Dogg,” Sue said, referring Martha’s rapper pal and business partner.

Undeterred, I wrote to MJ Day, editor-in-chief of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.

After complimenting her on being age-inclusive in making Martha Stewart one of this year’s models, I wrote: “As a guy who will turn the big 7-Oh in January, I would love to speak with you about what it takes to be a swimsuit model and if you would consider me for the next issue.

I haven’t received a response, so I guess Ms. Day is relaxing on a beach somewhere with Martha and Snoop.

Next, I wrote to a publication that doesn’t have a swimsuit issue but is geared toward people my age and might put me on the cover: AARP The Magazine.

An editor there said I should go through the media office, but the contact person is on leave. Whether it’s maternity, paternity or Social Security, I don’t know.

I made a final attempt with GQ (the real one), which usually puts young guys on the cover but might, in this enlightened age, be enlightened about age.

In an email to the publicity department, I offered to be a cover model, if not in a swimsuit, which would add a new wrinkle (or several) to the magazine, then at least in a tailored suit, which I would have to spend big bucks on.

No reply as yet.

So I went to a sporting goods store for a Speedo to see how I would look on a magazine cover.

When I told a sales associate named John about my plan to be the male Martha Stewart, he said, “You definitely could.”

“I’ll be 70 on my next birthday,” I said.

“You look great,” replied John, 25, who politely did not add “for your age.”

Then he handed me two Speedos, each a different size, and said I should go downstairs to the dressing room.

That’s where I met Jess, another sales associate. I told her the whole story.

Jess, a very youthful-looking 40, smiled and said, “You’ve got it going on, Jerry.”

I entered the dressing room and tried on both suits. The first, which I thought was my size, didn’t go up past my knees. The second, which I thought would be too big, was so snug that I could have auditioned for the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

“Looks like I won’t be a cover boy,” I said as I handed the Speedos to Jess. “Maybe those baggy swim trunks are my speed after all.”

Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima

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