This is a baby picture of my dad, taken sometime in the late 1930’s and later appropriated by me, for a display of “Mom and Dad as Younger People” photos. Which I hung prominently in whatever apartment I lived in at the time. It was nice.
This is another picture of my father, taken many years later but also many years before the “grown men re-creating their childhood photos” craze. In this one, my dad is attempting to imitate himself as a baby, and I will tell you that I did not have to beg him to do it.
As I recall, the conversation that led to this beautiful shot went something like this:
Me: Hey Dad, why do you think you were holding your hands out in this baby picture?
Dad: How the fuck should I know?
Me: Well I mean, do you think they were like, offering you a toy? Doing something to make you laugh and you were trying to grab the funny thing?
Dad: Mis. I was a baby. I don’t know what the fuck I was doing.
Me: It’s cute, though . . . don’t you think?
Dad: I was probably saying, “Hey, quit taking pictures and give me some money, you assholes!”
Me: Ha. How sweet. Would you do it again now?
Dad: Now? I don’t know. Yeah, I guess.
And that, as they say, was that.
As you may be able to see, he not only copied the pose, but also removed his false teeth for increased authenticity. The rectangular thing that’s propped up in front of him is the original baby photo, which I wanted to include in case some archaeologist unearthed the picture hundreds of years from now. So they’d see what it was all about, or at least have a chance. All in all I think it worked out great.
So I got the picture developed (like I said, this was a long time ago and Foto Hut was still doing a pretty good business), stuck it in the corner of the baby photo’s frame, and displayed it for years in my various houses and apartments. Every time my parents visited, my dad would say, “Huh…nice picture!” Not, “I look like a whacko in that picture, please put it away,” or, “Why would you ask me to do something so idiotic?” Because my dad knew funny when he saw it. Either that, or he actually did think it was a good picture. Even before Alzheimer’s, you really never knew with him.
In the end, I kept those photos out for so long that the sun started to fade both the baby picture and the re-creation, and so I had to put them away. Later today I think I’ll show them to my kids so that they can know, or at least get an idea, of what their grandfather used to be like. Which is sentimental and sweet and nice, but not really where I’m going with this.
So, where am I going with this, you ask? Well I’ll tell you. For one thing I’m saying that the best memories don’t necessarily come from Disneyland, which quite frankly is a relief, since my parents never took us there. For me, and I’m guessing for my sister too, the best memories came from moments that were not planned, not perfect, and not even particularly important. Like for instance, our dad looking like a jackass in a photo just for a laugh. Or our mom saying “I hate that baby” on the way into a Christmas party where there actually was a baby that she hated.
And speaking of Christmas: maybe this year you’re giving your kids an iPhone or an Xbox or a hover board or, I don’t know, a hot air balloon. Or maybe you can’t afford any of those things and you’re worried about how to handle your kids’ disappointment. And that sucks, and I know, because I was once the kid crying at the mall when I couldn’t get the Jordache jeans. Which is still not the point. And I’m starting to think they should find someone with a far more organized brain to write my blog for me.
Unfortunately that is not going to happen, so, here’s what the point is. Finally. The point is, I’m not saying it’s good or bad to get your kids expensive gifts, and I’m not saying it doesn’t suck when you want to but can’t. What I am saying is that if your child asks you to be photographed in a way that just might make you look like an asshole, you should totally do it. Because that, my friends, is the gift that truly keeps on giving.