Live Tweeting from JCPenney Christmas Catalog Model Fantasy Camp

A digital collage of several different texts, combined with many different pixellated images in a variety of colors. Words can be made out such as "Got such a great deal on a full living room set... I didn't realize. Things are microbes munching on me while I watch TV. Picking me apart."

Art by T.W. Selvey.

I'm on a cruise ship to Cozumel, it's the Ides of March, and I'm live tweeting from JCPenney Christmas Catalog Model Fantasy Camp. #wishbookingit

Not that I have the chops for it. I tweet in sentences, I don't know how to use emojis, I can't seem to post photos that capture the elliptical essence of anything, much less this fantastic voyage.

But the fantasy camp director brought me on board to catalog the cruise for her handful of followers, and she's hoping we'll gain more along the way as I attempt to drive audience engagement and enthusiasm.

“It's all about tapping into bucket lists, and connecting the JCPenney Christmas Catalog Model Fantasy Camp and its 37 happy wish book campers with other corners of the vicarious world.” — Camp Director Taxi Belle None The Wisher

It's not so much about cap sleeves and shoulder pads — knit jacket dresses that are equally chic for the office, or after — as it is these campers kicking it with the models who rocked them, say, in the 1992 wish book.

[photo of the 1992 wish book cover]

As the copper sun sets on the Caribbean Sea, I’m watching and listening to an animated discussion between Wish Book Model Brenda (1976 wish book) and a camper from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Feeling all the feels.

[photo of the copper sun meeting the straight-line sea]

“Honestly, it was all about the way the camera light lifted my spirits and, I think, my soul that day — that, and the joy inherent in the nature of pinwale corduroy pants.” — Brenda to Cuyahoga Falls camper #truthtopower

*The way*. That’s it, really. The way of things on this cruise ship. The way of Leather-Look Jacket Model Ken. The way of No-Iron Long Dress Model Maureen. The way of the *way* that is a wish.

The way a fantasy camper who says he is *living in the moment* checks his email. The way a wish book model, any wish book model, turns their head to the right, just so, and smiles like the horizon in a new-to-you city. The way a wish is a wish is a wish.

What is a wish but a space-eater, though? A sound that comes to call and you don’t answer the door because, you know, *morning* hair … and you wait and wait and wait and after the sound fades after it flees after you fold you say to your hamster Timmy “I failed didn’t I?”

From wishful thinking to self-pity. Self-absorption! Eek! #thisiswhattrueabjectfailurelookslike

*I’m sorry* I say to the fantasy campers. *I’m sorry* I say to the wish book models. *I’m sorry* I say to Taxi Belle. *I’m sorry* I say to the Caribbean, now lapping up, up, up the sides of this mystery ship, gently rocking lovely wishers to sleep.

It’s a fine line to walk, Taxi Belle told me. Tweeting about yourself vs. tweeting about *the* self vs. tweeting about *selflessness.* #taxibelletruths

There’s also this Ides of March thing. There are moons to mind. Debts to settle. Omens to turn toward and turn *into* twilight. Especially on the flat earth that is a wish book. The flatfoot that is Twitter.

“The moon, at sea. The sea change, at work. This is what I saw, this is what I visualized, when I modeled the natural rabbit fur beret and muff ‘First Communion’ set in the 1978 wish book.” — Model Eleanor aka “Lil’ Ellie”

I’ve seen this moon. I’ve wished for that change. I’ve wished for this vicarious world. This vicarious wish fulfillment. A kind of vicarious love. #goals #vicarious

I’ve always believed I wouldn’t live all that long. It’s not a death wish or anything. Just a feeling I have, something I feel *I know*. Wistful, fleeting and beautifully so.

Like this moon I’m minding. Like this second-hand smoke I’m breathing in from all these wishes. All these wishes, at sea. (a full-moon emoji, a smoking cigarette emoji, a water wave emoji)

This This This! Especially *fleeting*. Fleeting like a brushed gabardine jump suit, flared. Like a photo shoot, finished. Like a catalog page, turned.

[retweet/quote tweet of "Like this moon..." tweet from Model Millicent, who showed off soft, draping knit-tops in the 1971 wish book]

TYVM, Millicent! All the emoji hearts #thisiswhatwishfulfillmentlookslike

This is what love, in all its glorious, mid-March transience, looks like (Fonzie thumb emoji)

[reply from Jeremy and Jillian, his ‘n’ hers sportshirt models from the 1970s and 1980s wish books]

(a folded hands/praying emoji, a black heart emoji, an Ides of March/full moon emoji)

This night is now nearly *all* night as we approach the Cozumel coastline. I imagine the Mayan ruins, the wishes entombed there. The bucket lists like little hands, not clapping.

Like little hands talking about belief, talking about love, talking about *someday*. Talking in hushes, talking in shivers, while your brave hamster Timmy is home, alone, singing out, to you: *A thing about an ending is sometimes you have no one to tell it to*

This, I can — or just want to — tell you, my wish book fam and friends. I don’t think there’s an ending. Or a beginning. Not in this vicarious world. What there is is a constant fleeting. A feeling *of* that fleeting. An empathy *for* it. An empathy for all those wishes. At sea. (emoji of a brave but unsteady hamster flying a sail boat kite in the tenuous night and off the coast of everywhere)


A former wish book model of dystopian loungewear (no), Pat Foran sucks at Twitter (yes). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, Cotton Xenomorph, Schuylkill Valley Journal Online and elsewhere. Find him at and on Twitter at @pdforan.


Recently, T.W. Selvey’s work has appeared in Mercurious, Mixtage, Ric Journal, Feral, Southchild Lit, Witch Craft Magazine, Cobra Milk, and Fairy Piece. T.W. tweets sporadically @docu_dement, and is the proud curator of a haphazardly curated blog,