Once you have kids, things change. Naptime marks the mad dash to get everything done in two hours that you used to spread over an entire day, traveling requires a pHD in logistics and coordination (a spare prescription of Lithium also helps), and Saturday mornings are booked indefinitely for the never ending parade of other people’s kid’s birthday parties.
Frankly, I’m not even sure who some of these children are or how their cartoon character invitations make it onto my fridge, but like dutiful parents everywhere I drag my progeny to the party anyways, where he will promptly dissolve in a puddle of tears once he realizes the presents aren’t for him and that he is expected to follow a carefully choreographed schedule of fun. Actually, it’s not the birthday parties themselves that I mind so much. Let’s face it, its not as if they were interrupting a long lazy morning in bed reading the paper and eating croissants, but what I truly dread is the inevitable after party photos, which are usually emailed out to half the world, mere seconds after you leave the premises.
Another batch of birthday party photos appeared in my inbox today and as feared, I flipped through and confirmed that I had been had again. An unspeakably horrid photograph of me, now on display for the entire Internet world. One cannot look at this photo without shuttering. I immediately sent off an Instant Message to my friend who hosted the party:
Me: “Thanks a lot for leaving the hideous photo of me in the album”
Me: “I’m serious, if it was you, I would have edited that one out.”
Now, you may have to know my willowy tall blonde friend, but may not be immediately apparent is that she knows exactly what she did. And she is a good enough friend not to try to deny it. She didn’t say “What bad photo?”. No, She knew. And she also knew by virtue of including it, the photographs of her looked all the more stunning in comparison. It does not help me that some of my friends are strikingly photogenic. Particularly the one I happened to be standing next to when this specific shot was taken. You can take pictures of this friend immediately after 27 hours of hard labor and think, “my she is lovely”. Or the time I took a picture of her heaving after a night of too much drinking and yet one could not help but look at the picture and admire her fine bone structure. It’s absurd that I should have to put up with this.
See, the truth is, I’m not photogenic. In fact, it may not be a stretch to say that I am the least photogenic person on the planet. Of course, you would never know this from looking around my home, where the casual observer might believe that I am a supermodel. What they don’t know is that these pictures represent only a tiny fraction of all pictures ever taken of me. They have been carefully culled to include only the most flattering pictures, often benefiting by overexposure, to the extent that they usually only have the slightest resemblance to me in real life.
I’m sorry to say that my dedication to showcasing only flattering photos of myself is so strong, that others often get run over in the process. For example, of the many pictures taken at my son’s baptism, one was particularly attractive of me, I’m turned slightly to the side to hide my post pregnancy figure so I almost looked thin, and the lighting made my features soft and glowing. Now, unfortunately, it wasn’t the best shot of my son. Lacking any real neck control, his head wasn’t fully supported and appears to be attached to his shoulders by a wet noodle. Aside from the odd angle, his face is mostly obscured. Still, it was damn good picture of me, so I framed it and put it on a shelf. Being unphotogentic can really bring out the worst in people.
There was some improvement with the advent of digital photography, specifically, the ability to edit oneself out of shots. I recall the days of picking of traditional film based prints from the drugstore. Going through these, I imagine I felt the same as homicide detectives reviewing crime scene photos. Each was usually worse than the last. I would gasp in horror, quickly look away, and wonder who *was* this poor incredibly unphotogetic woman in these shots. Could this really be me? I have a mental image of myself that doesn’t seem to reliably match up with real life evidence of my appearance, and never less so than when photographed. The pictures usually ended up buried in the bottom of a box. I should have thrown them away really but I somehow inherited some sort of depression-era quirk where I have a hard time throwing things away.
Now with digital photos, I can quickly review the pictures and crop myself out when I don’t look good. This, combined with the fact that I virtually never appear to be in photos anymore, works out to be a reliable system. I’m sure generations down the line will assume Jack was raised by a single father, since I always seem to be on the other end of the camera. It’s interesting that when we didn’t have kids, we would be quick to flag down an unsuspecting passerby to take a picture of the two of us, because, really, how lame would a shot of only one of us be? But with a child, as long as there is one of us in the frame, well it’s good enough.
At least I have six more whole, blissfully unphotographed, days before the next party. I’ll take what I can get.