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Picture Day

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Diane S. She’s a 51 year-old special education teacher, a flower and travel lover, and a yoga fanatic. More importantly, she’s my mother.

Throughout my life I’ve heard thousands of stories from my dad. Every hunting and fishing trip, every long drive, and every boring night at home, it is crazy stories from high school and college and stories about the dumb things him and his sister did. But no stories from Mom. She’s told me how it was vacation after vacation growing up and a lot of gymnastics and tantalizing synchronized swimming. But never a full story. Never something crazy and unique.
Sitting down to interview her I was ecstatic. Ready to hear a story. Ready to hear something to top Dad. But what’s the first thing I get?

“You know I don’t have any good stories right? Everything I’ve got is kind of boring,” she said.

Fantastic. There goes my plan.

I went on anyways. Question after question I got nothing. Boring memories and generic things everyone else says. I ask about all of her trips she took with her family, her gymnastics experiences, and the excitement of synchronized swimming. Still nothing. Finally, I got something. I got pictures.

She began telling stories of her horrible history with pictures. In third grade she took a school picture with her eyes half closed and looked like a complete idiot. Her mom didn’t know there was such a thing as “re-takes” and instead of getting a new one, the picture was put in the yearbook, mass copied, and handed out to friends and family.

“It was horrible. She just handed them out and told me, oh well, you’ll have a better one next year.”

When she was 13 she went on her first plane ride and apparently this was a big deal for her parents and they made her dress up. Unfortunately she had made the mistake of letting her older sister cut her hair, who by the way was still learning how to do so. The end result was too short of a haircut and horrible pictures.

Senior pictures brought misery as well.

“Oh God. Those were terrible,” she said.

My mom wore huge glasses throughout high school. While taking the pictures she had to deal with keeping them up. She spent every second pushing them back up her nose, trying to keep them from falling. When the pictures were done, there were no good ones. In the only remotely decent one, she had forgotten to push her glasses back up and they were almost falling off her nose.

“My parents didn’t want to pay for more proofs, or to take more pictures, so I was stuck with what I had. I ended up picking this one where I was doing this stupid over-the-shoulder look. It was horrible.”

Then in college, my mom had what could’ve been a breakthrough in her pictures. Her freshman year every student that lived in her dorm had their picture put up in the hall. She ended up getting voted as the Olivia Newton John look-a-like (who played Sandy in the movie Grease). But not even this was considered good for my mom.

“It was probably just a pick-up line for all the guys,” she said.

Even for the granddaddy of them all she couldn’t get a good picture. Her wedding. My parents’ photographer made them do a pose where they were pretending to be leaving the reception with an awkward, fake waving good-bye as the “just married” couple. It turned out horrible and the two of them looked and felt stupid.

“I loathe pictures.”





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