By Tish Durkin

Christie, Elle, Kate ­ darlings, relax. We know that it must be killing you to have disfigured yourselves with milk moustaches for the purposes of those American Dairy Association ads, only to hear the loudest lactose-related buzz of '95 rise up around Ganesh (below), a virtual nobody in the American mass market with an elephant head, obvious dental problems, four arms, nothing but a rat for transportation, and at least a millenium on Bridget Hall. What a surprise, indeed.

But cut yourselves some slack. In the first place, the guy's a god (Hindu, of learning), and as such he has a built-in following. All he had to do was sip ­ well, appear to sip; actually, be rumored to appear to sip ­ a driblet of cow juice in temples across India late last month, and by the next day millions of his faithful were flocking to the dairy case in stores the world over. From Delhi to Ottowa to Italy to Montgomery County, Maryland, Hindus both staunch and skeptical lined up to spoon all manner of whole, skim and two-percent into the mouths of Ganesh statues, and then to hail the idols' lapping it up as a miracle. Let's face it: Not even Naomi in spandex is a literal miracle.

You mustn't get undereye bags over this, though. After all, even as the "udder phenomenon" was building bone in some quarters, it was curdling in others. Secular-science types instantly chalked the whole thing up to porous stone, and made cynical note of an awful lot of unabsorbed milk dripping onto floors and into saucers. Even among the true believers, Ganesh as a dairy deity was too controversial to stay hot for long. Whatever he drank or didn't, he definitely deepened the chasm in Indian politics between an opposition party eager for a religious revival and a ruling faction equally eager to avert one.

So, should you full-time models worry about any of this? Not at all, really, because ... well, because Ganesh doesn't seem thirsty anymore. Just as he started a craze by drinking, he seems to have ended it by drinking his fill. And so the cartons have been closed up and the spoons put away again, the grocery shelves have been restocked, and the smell of spoiling milk has faded from the air above the altars. In the Hindu pantheon, Ganesh will be the god of learning for the rest of time, but as a force in the milk-modeling biz, he's definitely over. Finished. A career gone sour, as it were.


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