I went to get my photo taken for my church’s pictoral directory. Ok, fine. I went to the gym beforehand with the plan to shower and dress then go to the church. I spent A. Lot. of Time. working on my hair. I even plucked out a few stray greys. I wore a nice solid colored shirt thinking, “Slate grey. That’s a good color. Not to bright. Won’t wash me out.” Halfway there, I panicked. I remembered the Drivers License ID Debacle of Aught Seven when I accidentally wore a shirt the same color as the background and spent two years with a driver’s license that made me look like a floating disembodied head. “Who are you? I’m Nobody.”
When I arrived, there were some Children and a Mother. While the photographer (we’ll call him Mr. Rogers) teased the girls about being in college (they were 4 and 7), I explained to the check-in docents that yes, I do use all my names, having kept my first, middle, maiden, and married names when I got married. They were perplexed. “But is it…Mrs. XY? OR just Ms. Y?” Finally I said, “Just use my married name.” I got married AT YOUR CHURCH. Weren’t you paying attention when one of your MEMBERS married IN your CHURCH?
Mr. Rogers finished with the college girls and then asked me if I would care to step this way. He asked me if I was related to the Family out there. Nope.
“And are you in college?”
“No,” I said. “I’m in the 42nd grade.”
He didn’t really know how to deal with that, bless his heart. He seems like one of those people who says the same innocuously cheesy things so often that he’s not even hearing the responses anymore. He then proceded to take all those cheesy shots you see on http://www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com…leaning this way and that, resting my head on my fingers, and my personal favorite, Looking Into the Light.
Now, before each shot, he cheerfully suggested some things to think about to get the right look for the shot.
“And here, you’ve just won that Teacher of the Year Award.” (I burst out laughing. I guess he doesn’t read my blog...)
“Just think about the silly things you did in high school.” (Um…you mean like play penny poker and watch “Heathers” 8,000 times?)
“And now, you’re looking up at the light of God.” (And darned if that wasn’t a pretty decent picture of me….)
What was not clear was WHY we were taking so many pictures. Last time we did a pictoral directory, I just went in, they snapped one picture, it was horrible, and I left. This time, poor Mr. Rogers had to sit there with me and explain OPTIONS and show me all my picture choices. Bless his pea-picking heart, he told me each one was really nice, or very nice, or just lovely. When we got to the Christmas card option, I said, “Honestly, I don’t think I want to send a Christmas card with…just my face on it…without my…husband…” He agreed, he wouldn’t do that either. After I declined a third upsell, he said, “Now are we trying to keep everything free?” He wasn’t unkind about it. I said, “I don’t have a job right now, and I don’t think I can really spend the money.” But somehow he still tried to get me to purchase a frame, some wallet-sized photos, and some kind of fancy photoboard that will last for…like a century.
Do adult people actually go in there and buy wallet sized portraits of themselves to give to other adult people? It was weird to me. I can’t imagine saying, “Here you go, friend. A Christmas gift!” Hell, my sister in law has never sent me ANY pictures of my niece who is now 5. How bizarre would it be for me to mail her a nice 5×7 of just me?
Mr. Rogers explained that the church had wanted this to be a professional portrait session for its members and I confessed that I didn’t realize that, and that I hadn’t even brought my husband since he’s technically not a member of the church. I felt bad though. I didn’t mean to take up Mr. Rogers’ time and I have to say that the pictures were nice. I don’t usually say that about pictures of my head that don’t have anything else in them but me. Incidentally, my face is a lot rounder than I remember it being…from before… I hope they keep Mr. Rogers for next time.