Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Deaths

I've never seemed to have much luck when it came to pictures, be it school pictures or even a candid photograph.  In my elementary school years, I was much fatter.  Back in the day, there were two choices for school backgrounds:  neutral pastel blue or gray or TERMINATOR LASERS!  Because it was the early 90's, everyone wanted the "robot genocide" background because it was the best way to compliment their mullet or rat-tail.
"Give me your clothes, and your motorcycle."
And there I was:  fat, surrounded by a boring backdrop.
Fast forward maybe 20 years and my incompatibility with the snapshot is still a legitimate talent.  Don't believe me?  Go on Facebook right now and find a mutual picture of us.

See? Ruined.  Even 200 year old Native American photographs are more illustrious and they refused to smile on account of their firm believe that their souls were being vacuumed away.  The horrifying thing is, I am just as cursed outside the frame.  I don't need to be in the picture for bad things to happen.  It has become an inverse four-leaf clover.  My spirit animal is a deer being hit by a Hummer.


Exactly 1 year ago tomorrow, I was in attendance of the U.S. World Cup qualifier in Columbus, OH.  Ninety minutes later, a cadence of cleats struck the pavement in the tunnel to a 2-0 victory.  In a matter of moments, we would learn that we had secured our berth to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
I was ecstatic. I had witnessed history.  I was also tired and simply wanted to make my way home, wash the sweat and dried beer showered on me from the fits of joy following each goal.  Sure I was only going to get maybe 5 hours of sleep, but in the long run, it would be worth it.

While tickets were close to $50 each, the total investment of the game would be roughly five-times that amount.  Upon returning to my car, I discovered that my driver's side window had divorced the rest of my car.  Like tiny pieces of glitter shimmering in the streetlights, my window had been shattered into hundreds of pieces.  There was no Stone Cold Steve Austin to follow, though.  No Jim Ross screaming about "the Texas rattlesnake."  There was only panic.

I just remember saying "no no no no no!"  and circling the car in a frenzy.  Upon further inspection, my laptop case was gone.  And that explained it.  Some colossal dick saw the case, thought "wooo free laptop," shattered the window, and fled with its contents:  some graded pre-tests from my students, some pens and post-it notes...and my school pictures I literally had just gotten that day.  Obviously I never got the bag back.  Odds are the guy checked out what was inside, saw there was no computer in there, and tossed it in the nearest alley way or dumpster.  But not before cutting out a 3x5 and securing it to his fridge that is likely kept together with 3 rolls of duct tape; watching over an appliance holding expired mayonnaise and a lifetime supply of bologna.  Which brings us to today...

I strolled into the office after school as part of my usual routine:  use the restroom before I left, and check my mailbox for any important documents.  Today, the school pictures arrived.  My box was saturated with no less than 15 envelopes, one of which was my own.  Paging through to the bottom, I glanced at my picture.  However, 85% of my face was being obstructed by the paper surrounding the clear plastic panel used to preview the photo.  So I did what any normal human being would do:  I took my picture out of the envelope.  What transpired next took a mere two seconds, but its effects were everlasting.

As I was holding on the rest of the pictures, I couldn't get a firm grip on my own, and dropped it.  It fluttered in the air like the feather in the opening/closing scene of Forrest Gump as it descended toward the floor.  In one final, gliding motion, it disappeared underneath a door...a bathroom OCCUPIED bathroom door to the LADIES bathroom.

What do you do?  Leave the scene?  It's your PICTURE.  It's not like they can't put it together.  Do you "make the first move," knock on the door and crack a joke to try and cover your tracks:
"So what do you think? You can put that up on the mirror if you want to!"

Or do just simply wait and try and play it off?  Pretend that you have no idea what just happened and then quickly take the evidence once the patron leaves.  More concerning, however:  who was in there?  A teacher?  Secretary?  One of the curriculum directors?  A parent!?  I soon got my answer...

After a flush, 15 seconds of running water, and a few clicks of the paper towel dispenser, the door opened and out walked one of my fellow teachers, Mrs. Elerly.  In her hands was...well, me.  Her look was that of "is this a joke?" combined with "are you serious?"  With a feeling of relief, I gave her a surprised look and said "sorry, I was aiming for Mr. Branson's (the principal) door."
She merely laughed, and gave it back to me.

After a brief moment, I looked at my still-frame self and shook my head, as if to say "what the hell were you thinking?"

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