Kim Berns’ Post Road: Picture This.

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At what point did you decide it was a bad idea for people to take your picture?

I have become the Greta Garbo of photos, ducking the camera’s eye unless I have veto power on distribution and Photoshop applications.  I am weary of the outcome where your mug gets tagged on some random Facebook page with the kindest comments asking ‘would someone buy this poor woman a tube of mascara?’

My niece on the other hand, a junior in college at the MIT of Mexico, has 4,000 photos on Facebook.

Consider the length of time Facebook has even been in existence and then consider the amount of time it takes to have someone take 4,000 pictures and then post them. Little time for study?   This fact and the non-resume building nature of the photos did prompt my sister to go on to her daughter’s Facebook page and ask whether she might post a couple of pictures while not consuming a drink.

Most of us breathe a sigh of relief at having lived in the non-digital age where the majority of questionable behavior has become mere conjecture, laughable old wives tales without proof.

And where photos came in, well, I recall a friend visiting me in one of my first apartments and commenting on how fabulous I looked in every photo displayed- I picked them.  Scrupulously being the editor of my own P.R. in my disproportionate number of framed photos, all featuring me.  If they had invented Skype, I would have found people I needed to talk to and who I thought needed to look at me.

In those days I liked to make-out with the lights on, waiting for the unsuspecting accomplice to gush.  Back then, before someone took your picture, or you took your own, you learned the trick of looking at the camera, and pretending to wonder ‘did I leave the stove on’, because those kinds of thoughts are what made models look so other world.  It was really stupid because back then you never bothered to use the stove.

Gadget Girl was never my thing, so it has been an exasperating learning curve trying to keep up:

I don’t send digital Christmas cards, nor have the capacity to e-mail photos on my phone.

I have been badgered by well meaning friends to buy a camcorder that you can fit in your pocket, versus the one I had from the 80’s that needed its own suitcase.

We didn’t videotape our wedding, instead we wasted the entire cocktail hour taking photos while our guests drank from a vodka fountain and ate fish eggs that they said were orange and not black, but I wasn’t there to check.

We didn’t videotape any of the children being born, although if you deliver at Greenwich hospital, aside from being accompanied by a pianist as you check in, your spouse will be given disposable cameras to keep him busy during the delivery.  They do have a sort of ‘roped off’ area ensuring that although you may look like death’s door, it is your face you’re seeing and not something else.  Whatever happened to men in the waiting room being handed a cigar?  Was that such a bad thing?

Aside from actually writing for the new media while still being a closet typewriter lover, one can only kick and scream so long before getting dragged into the present by one of your wise-acre kids.  See,  right there you can tell this is not someone who should be photographed on a regular basis, that ugly mommy voice rearing its head.  And that is exactly what happened when our ten year old, Max, had a friend sleep over.

While attempting to clean up the kitchen after feeding four boys breakfast, I lost my cool when one of the smaller ones was trying to dig up the wood threshold between rooms with a spatula, and the other was in the junk drawer sucking on Magic marker while unrolling the scotch tape.  Trying to be heard over the blasting of ‘Womanizer’ (is that Britney? it’s very catchy) I screamed the way that a city cop might, in an all business, take no prisoners tone.  No one paid me any mind, but Max’s friend promptly pulled out his hidden recorder and during a lull played it back.  It was worse than when David Hasselhoff was recorded while very drunk  by one of his daughters with the hope that the shocking truth would scare him straight.   That the horror of himself would be enough to kick his bad habits.

Knowing that the true test of character is how we behave when no one is watching, I thought I might install a total security covert video camera.  Did I have surveillance needs?  Certainly, my own.  What better way to evolve from mindless mom to video star than to have the cameras rolling.  Why should only certain Housewives get all the camera time?  With just a little face work I could be back in pictures.

For a mere $650.00, I could install a ceiling ‘air purifier’ that is really a stealth cam.  For $599.00 each of my children could have teddy bears on their beds, not only recording their beauty sleep, but keeping a running record of my devoted bedtime sing-alongs, maybe eventually compiling enough of them to turn into an album!  I could purchase of pair Spy Camera Sunglasses, on sale now for $179.95 from $220.00 and then have my husband wear them so I could not only know every move he makes, but have video of us together when he wears them.  For a mere $799.00 I could look forward to the spring by purchasing recording devices disguised in rocks from SpySource.net.

I  purchased a red Polaroid digital camcorder at Target on sale for $39.99 from $59.99 because it said it was fun, simple and affordable.

Since any new technology causes me headaches, I  roared at Max to read the instructions and teach me to operate it-‘after all, I’ll be recording your school concert’, I said in my most ‘grow up to be someone or else’ Tiger tone.

He thought I should get a memory card in addition to the two AA batteries but the night of the concert came and I threw the gizmo into my purse as is.  One song into the show, as I held up my cool camcorder, a big F appeared on the viewer.  F.  F for what?  I flipped through the mini manual but it didn’t say anything about F.  Was it worth it to keep the camera suspended causing pain to my levitating arm?  F?

F for “Full” maybe?  Later I replayed all I had thought I had recorded.  It was half a song from the show and incriminating photos my boys took of each other eating lollipops.

Kim Berns is a writer and interior decorator living in Rye.

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