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Surrealist Word Games and other unbelievable things

Zuzu Tadeushuk

Have you ever played the game “If, Then?” Well here's how it goes: one person makes an “if” statement (“if chocolate didn’t exist”), and another person makes a disconnected “then” statement (“then humanity would die out by a slow steady withering of the heart”). They are then strung together randomly to reveal a sort of story (though in my example they actually work together quite well, hmm wonder why…). 

Anyway, on the day- back in eleventh grade- that Ford offered me a modeling contract I played a sort of “if then” game with my mom on our car ride home from Manhattan. We felt slightly dazed by what we’d just heard, and were having a grand time fantasizing. “Imagine, if you ever got printed in a magazine…” my mom wondered aloud to me, and I supplied: “then I would be forever satisfied with my career and would never have to model again.” We went back and forth like this for a bit (If I were sent abroad for work? No- they wouldn’t ever do that. If I stumbled upon my image on some brand's website? Then I'd possibly swoon with surprise, and recover with a piece of chocolate: as I’ve always maintained, “in times of crisis, eat chocolate,” (and the same goes for times of joy— and everything else in between, let’s be honest). Mom and I mused on like this for a while until I had one thought that was almost too audacious to voice, but which I did anyway, just for the fun of the game. “And if I modeled for Vogue?” 

Neither of us had a “then” to finish that idea. It was beyond response, and we smilingly let the “if” hang between us in silence; a gorgeous, outrageous, secret fancy.

As I gazed at the lights of the West Side Highway gliding by my window on that ride home, I never suspected that this fancy would someday be realized. But today I am thrilled to tell you that, lo and behold, I have an editorial out in this month’s issue of French Vogue, photographed in Paris by Giampaolo Sgura and styled by Claire Dhelens. So now that this wildest “if" of mine is a reality, I should know my response to it, right? Now that I have seen myself within Vogue? No, I still haven't a properly-formulated thought to follow up this extravagant plot twist. I only know that now that my "if" is no longer an "if," I feel amazed, I feel honored, I feel confused. The corresponding “then,” now a "now," is still incoherently surreal. And for the time being that's just as it should be.