Looks Like a Good Life

Is there anyone you look at and think, ‘it looks like they have a pretty good life’?

It’s not envy exactly. More like an appreciative curiosity.

The famous person that fits this for me is Cate Blanchett.

The non-famous one is Donna Adler.

Donna was a year ahead of me in dental hygiene school. She was the valedictorian of her class and a nice person. She was also a model with Eileen Ford.

One day, Donna brought her ‘look book’ to school so we could see it. It held her headshots and bodyshots and clippings of her ads. This is how I learned she was the Noxzema girl, the one who was in every Seventeen magazine, face slathered with white cream.

This was also when I learned that advertising plays tricks. For example, Donna’s eyes changed color in the ads—usually blue, sometimes green, and rarely, brown.

In one of the Coppertone ads, there were three models. Donna was one of the two pale ones.

The ad had close-up shots of tan legs and tan arms, with pale legs and arms subordinated to the background. In one shot, Donna had written ‘my legs’ with an arrow pointing to the tan legs. When I realized the ad makers had taken the best-looking body part and made that one the tan one, no matter whose body it came from, I was shocked.

From The New York Times I learned that in 1975, Donna married H.B. Haines, a fourth-generation publisher. According to Legacy.com, she died in 2009, at age fifty-four. H.B. got there ahead of her in 1984, at age thirty-five. Last November, Donna’s mother posted a poem in her memory.

When I stumbled across the end of Donna’s life, I felt a mix of things. Sad that she was already gone. Glad that I was still here. And this desire to make note, to say that she mattered, that Donna Adler was smart and beautiful and kind, even to an awkward, anxious student in the class behind her.


Chewing the Cud of Good

Bearaby knit weighted blanket

Thankful for friends who watch out for my well-being, who think of things I might need, helpful things, lovely things that never occur to me.

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