Thursday, March 29, 2012

I AGED 15 YEARS OVERNIGHT

As much as it pained me, last night I finally posed for a new photo for my column. Not that I thought I should get rid of the old one – after all, it was only 15 years old and still had a lot of life left in it, in my opinion – but for some reason, I’ve been hearing too many comments lately about my photo needing to be updated.

“You’re the one who writes the column in the newspaper?” more than one person has asked me, not even trying to conceal his or her obvious look of surprise.

The comments have ranged from, “What photo is that in your column now – your high-school graduation?” to, “Are you trying to be like Dear Abby? She had the same photo in her column for about a hundred years!”

The photo I’ve been using with my column actually was taken by a member of the Villemure family, some very nice people who wanted to meet me after reading my column. I probably should have hired them years ago to come back and take another shot of me.

The problem is, it’s not easy for me to get a decent photo of myself. In every group shot, I’m always the one with her eyes closed, mouth hanging open, nose crinkled as if smelling something that died, or head turned, looking at something other than the camera. If the shot is a close-up, there’s usually a zit on my face the size of the planet Jupiter, or my hair looks as if it’s just been struck by lightning.

Another problem with getting a good photo of myself is I usually have to ask my husband to take it. And believe me, a photo session with him is a true test of patience...something I greatly lack.

For one thing, most people hold the camera up to their right eye when they snap a photo. My husband uses his left. The end result is a stack of off-center photos with people looking as if they’ve had body parts amputated on one entire side.

But now that I have a digital camera with a view screen on it, I thought it would be much easier for him to take photos. I mean, whatever is showing on the screen is what’s going to be in the photo. Simple.

So last night before dinner, when I asked my husband to snap a new photo of me for my column, I figured it would take only a few minutes. Once again, I figured wrong. By the time the photo session was over, our dinner looked as if it had been cremated.

Normally, when someone is holding a camera, his finger poised on the button, and he asks, “Ready?” it means he’s going to snap the shot.

Not my husband. To him, “Ready?” means at least another 30 seconds of trying to aim the camera and in the process, moving his hand and being unable to find the button again. This usually results in my getting frustrated and shouting, “Well, what the heck is taking you so long?” just as he finally snaps the photo – which explains why I’ve amassed a collection of photos with my mouth wide open and my expression looking as if I’m preparing to go wrestle a grizzly bear.

Last night, I specifically told my husband I needed a close-up head shot for my column. The first photo he snapped, which he deemed as “perfect,” had my entire body in it, along with the chair I was sitting on.

“You call that a head shot?” I asked him. “You can even see what color my shoes are!”

“Well, your head’s in it, isn’t it?” he answered. “Just cut out the rest!”

He also had a problem seeing the camera’s view screen.

“ I can’t see anything on it!” he complained. “Why can’t I see you?”

“Because you’re aiming the camera at the blank wall over my head,” I said, rolling my eyes...just as he lowered the camera and accidentally snapped the photo.

The shot made me look as if I had white eyeballs and was on the verge of having a seizure.

When I complained, he said, “Well, you write a humor column, don’t you? Maybe you should try for a funny photo – like making a face, or wearing a clown nose or something! Then people would know right away that the column is supposed to be humorous.”

The thought of being immortalized while sticking out my tongue or wearing a clown nose didn’t really didn’t appeal to me, even though by then, I was getting desperate enough to consider it.

“Just take a photo, will you?” I practically growled. “At this point, I don’t care if I look like a 100-year-old hag in it! I’m going to use it!”

Twenty photos later, I finally surrendered. There was no way, I concluded, I was going to get a shot that didn’t show my chipmunk cheeks, crooked bangs, double chin or crow’s feet...not unless I put a paper bag over my head.

So I finally picked the photo you now see in this column.

And mark my words, it’s going to stay here for at least another 15 years.

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