Monday, January 03, 2011

Smile!

Ron - Yearbook picture 1959
Today at 10 I have an appointment at the Milford Walmart for my annual portrait photo.


Who is that above?  That is me, my yearbook picture, sans smile.  I remember clearly when this picture was taken.


 I was 16 years old.


I was petrified .


I was shy and backwards.


I was too tall and too thin.


I had very low self-esteem because up until this point in my life I had been constantly reminded by my father that I had a big nose.  His nickname for me was "beak." Maybe he didn't mean anything by it, but his lack of respect for me was a big part of my life at that time.


Of course the other big part of my life was that I knew I was gay.  In 1958 gay wasn't a word to describe homosexuals.  Queer was the word of choice.  I was heavily in the closet.  No one must know.


So add all that baggage on this young man's head and this is the kind of yearbook picture that is produced - a sour faced, frightened, self-conscious 16 year old.


Like so many teenagers, I hated my yearbook picture.


Fast forward to some years later, when I had some disposable income, I tried to right this wrong.  Over the years I periodically went to a professional photographer to have a portrait picture taken.  When I couldn't afford a professional photographer, I would get my picture taken in one of those cheap photo booths.  By the way, whatever happened to them?  I though they were the coolest contraptions.


Last year I had my "official" portrait picture taken at J. C. Penney's in Dover.  It was a somewhat traumatic experience because of two little screaming little girls who were doing cartwheels behind the photographer while my pictures were being taken.  The strained and annoyed look showed on my face in my photos. I didn't want to go through that experience again. 


I was racking my brain this year to decide where to get my annual photo taken.   Last month I checked a Rehoboth Beach photographer called "Images in the Sands" or something like that.  Two lesbians own the company.  I liked their photography but as is too often the case with gay owned businesses in this area, they are very expensive.  A minimum of $175 just to walk in the door. Since I'm not a retired government worker collecting a near six figure retirement pay (many of the gay retiree Rehoboth residents are retired government employees), I couldn't afford them.


I do know an excellent portrait photographer but he lives in Scotland.  His name is Kim Ayres and he is one of my favorite bloggers.  Kim is my first choice but unfortunately I can't afford to fly to Scotland or to fly Kim here to Delaware.  Meeting Kim and having my portrait photo taken by Kim is one of my Bucket List items but until then I had to find another place have my photo taken.


Yesterday Significant Other and I were shopping at the Walmart in Milford.  As I was checking out I saw the young girl who runs their portrait photo studio leaning over her desk, making phone calls, with an empty studio behind her.  I was quite aware that Walmart has a photo studio but I had ruled them out because the studio is almost always crowded with screaming kids of the lower socio-economic order.  Yesterday that was not the case.  Why?  Oh, it was after Christmas and before Valentine's Day and Easter.  Time to schedule my appointment!


In a couple of hours I will be sitting at the Walmart photography studio getting my 2011 portrait photo. Hopefully there will not be a gaggle of screaming little girls doing cartwheels in their velveteen, crinoline puffed dresses when the photographer says to me......"Smile!"


Ron smiles 2010

13 comments:

  1. Good morning Ron, It's Mom of 3 in CT. Great picture. Never thought I'd be commenting again so soon - but here I am, compelled by your blog to let you know that I share your aversion for screaming unruly children, (more the older I get). I must say though, that the "lower socio-economic order" is not the only place you will find parents forgetting to discipline their kids. I live in Greenwich, CT., (named in the top 10 most wealthy places to live in the USA), and everyday I observe the most out of control spawn of the "lucky sperm" club. Ahhhh . . . but are they really lucky? Not to my thinking. I raised my 3 boys in this surreal town of wealth on a low-income and made damn sure they turned out right! That included, them behaving in public! What is wrong with these parents of "bad-behavers"? They are trying to be their friends I expect, or are they just too lazy to do the right thing, get off their blackberries and bring them for a long and boring sit in the car until said children cease and desist with the tantrum. It worked for me, and with my "so-called" hyperactive child like a charm. Nothing stops bad behavior like a staredown from mom. So, I feel your pain Ron, but trust me, these kids are everywhere! With and without money. I actually see it more among the extremely wealthy here in tony Greenwich, CT. My insiders view in this crazy town of Mercedes Benz and Lamborghini's may be worth a blog of my own, but for now though, it's time to drive my 92 Buick down to the laundromat and park next to a Jaguar. Cheers, Ron. PS-People who call names (including fathers) are the damaged ones, but you knew that already. Oh, and thanks for the well-wishes! Much Love.

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  2. Wow, your yearbook pic looked kinda cool actually. I like it.

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  3. Gee Tai, thanks for the compliment. But I really hated (and still do) this yearbook picture of me. I look like I"m in pain. Actually I was because I was so introverted and shy. I'm not now. Total turnaround. But I appreciate the compliment!

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  4. I agree with Tai. Your high school pic looks great. And where's the big nose your father was talking about? I don't see it.

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  5. Cubby,
    Hey thanks for the compliment about my nerdy high school yearbook picture! About my "big nose." Growing up and hearing my father constantly tease me about my "big nose", I believed I was seriously deformed. It wasn't until I left high school and the small town I grew up in and joined the Army did I discover that I didn't have a such "big nose" after all! Just goes to show how a child's self image and psyche can be damaged by unrelenting mockery by either his peers or family. Unfortunately for me it was my father who did damage to my self confidence. Leaving home and joining the Army was the best thing that could have happened to me. Now I'm very happy with my "prominent" nose thank you.

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  6. Mel,
    Thank you very much for your comment regarding unruly children. I agree with you completely that out unruly children are all across the "economic" spectrum. This is a subject of which I am quite aware of from unruly children in restaurants and other public places. I do believe I misspoke myself when I used the term "lower socio-economic scale" in my blog posting.

    I have to apologize for using the term "lower socio-economic" order describing the presence of children who distracted and stressed me out when I was having my picture taken. As soon as I used that term a little red flag went off in my head that said "WRONG TERM!" I should have paid attention to it because I didn't make myself clear. :) I could have left out the term altogether but I was trying to make the point that usually the Walmart photo center was crammed with (now I have to be careful - real careful) with black and HIspanic mamas with many, many children. Actually, their children are usually well behaved. I just didn't feel comfortable having my vanity photo session in the midst of all those Moms and kids. I would have felt just as uncomfortable having a photo session taken with soccer moms (or Connecticut moms) waiting outside, with antsy kids. By the way, I never blame the kids for unruly conduct, I always blame the parents. Specifically the Moms because the Dads are usually nowhere to be seen.
    Thinking about what I wrote now I should have just said I didn't feel comfortable having a photo shoot with restless kids waiting to have their pictures taken. The last time I had a photo session (J.C.Penney last year), two little girls were really doing cartwheels and screaming in my line of view as my photos were being taken. I don't know where Mom was but she wasn't around. There, I beat that horse to death. :)
    A little more on this subject. I remember when my Mom used to take me and my two younger brothers "to the store" in the Fifties. We were three boys, one year apart in age. Lots of energy. But we wouldn't DARE cause a disturbance when we were "at the store." If he did we got THE LOOK. So I know whereof you speak Mel. Thank you for bringing this to my attention Mel. :)

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  7. Nowt wrong with the size of your nose. If I ever get the chance to post a photo of my brotherinlaw, then you'll get to see a nose that puts all others in the shade. Meanwhile I look forward to the day I get to take your photo.

    All you need to do is get your neighbors to club together, and so long as my flights, accommodation and a bit of pin money are covered, I'll do everyone's portraits in exchange :)

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  8. Kim,

    Now I know my nose is alright. But I didn't think that when I was growing up because of the constant mocking by my father when I was growing up.
    Maybe someday I will get a club together to get you and your family over here. That is an excellent idea. Have you ever been to the states?

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  9. you should always smile; you light up so.

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  10. Guess where those photobooths are again? At movie theaters. We just saw one a few weeks ago. I was excited about it. I always thought that was so much fun when I was with my friends! : ) Anything with pictures just makes me go crazy. I love photography. And speaking of that, the latest greatest thing for people to do at weddings is to rent a photobooth. Then the wedding guests get to get a strip of pictures to take home. I shot two weddings with them this year and they were a big hit.

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  11. Kaishon,
    Photobooths are the movie theaters? Now someone has a good business idea! I don't know why those photobooths disappeared anyway. And to rent a photobooth, what a cool idea. I'm like you, I love anything to do with photography. I just wish I had a digital camera when I was younger. But then I would probably have a million pictures by now! I think photography is probably my favorite activity. I checked your website. You're smart in taking pictures of people when they're young, they will appreciate those photos when they're older.

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  12. You were handsome then as well as now.

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  13. Thank you RG. You made my day. :)

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