My senior photo from high school was, and still is, horrible!
On the day it was taken, I had to hurry up and ride my bike home from my job at the grocery store, change my clothes, run a wet washcloth over my face, comb my hair and then ride my bike a little over a mile to the school.
I had to work until 2:00 and my appointment with the photographer was at 2:30, so I had to hurry.
Instead of tying my necktie at home, however, I decided I would wait until I got to school to do it, so I wouldn’t die of heat exhaustion on the way.
The temperature was about 90 degrees that day. As I pedaled furiously, the breeze in my face would have been nice if it was cooling me off, but that’s impossible when it’s so hot. I was sweating like a dog, especially since I was wearing the sport coat I chose for the photo.
And when I got to the school, there were steel gates in the hallways, so I wasn’t able to get to a rest room to freshen up, or to use a mirror to tie my tie. So I had to do the best I could without a mirror, comb my hair by heart, and I wiped my sweaty face with the sleeve of my jacket.
Underneath my sport coat, my armpits were sweating and my back was soaked. Ugh!
I felt totally disheveled.
I had one classmate ahead of me in the room were pictures where being taken. She looked great, like she’d been sitting in an air-conditioned car all day. He clothes were fresh and dry, her makeup was just right, and her hair was brushed neatly.
As I filled out my personal information for the photographer’s assistant, I watched my classmate get her pictures taken. She was so pretty, so confident, so dry.
When the photographer was finished with her, we greeted each other as she walked past me.
Then it was my turn.
White shirt, maroon sport coat, and a red necktie with blue polka dots that I borrowed from my dad’s closet. I don’t remember what slacks I wore, but they were irrelevant, since they weren’t to be in the picture.
I asked the photographer if I looked okay, if my hair was neat, if my tie was straight, if I was sweating through my sport coat. He said I looked fine.
I was relieved.
He had me sit several ways, turn my head this way and that way, look to the left, look to the right, and then put my hand up to my chin for one shot.
Then I was done.
I hopped back on my bike and rode back home to change my clothes and jump in the pool.
Almost home, I noticed that I had ink on my right hand from my price-stamping machine at the grocery store, they kind that were used to stamp a price on almost all the items in the store. There was just a little bit of ink on my left hand.
When I received the proof photos in the mail about a month later, I was horrified.
My face looked oily and shiny, obviously a result of not being able to wash the sweat off.
Luckily, my hair looked okay.
Then my family asked why I had a bruise on my chin.
But I didn’t have a bruise; it was a little bit of blue ink smeared on my chin from my hand.
Then they asked what was on my cheek.
We’re still not sure what it was. It could have been a bug or a piece of grass, but it looked like I had a mole on my left cheek.
I don’t know why the photographer didn’t say anything. Maybe he thought it was a piece of me.
My family and I selected one of the proofs that didn’t show the dot on my cheek and the shininess of my face very much. And the smear on my chin was barely noticeable.
My mother finally got in touch with the photographer and asked him about the photos. He said that he thought I had a bruise on my chin, but he could “airbrush” it out and it wouldn’t be visible in the picture.
I wasn’t totally satisfied with the picture, but it would have to do.
Then I learned that I could get my picture taken again if I wanted.
I thought about it, but declined; the one I selected would suffice, as long as the ink on my chin was airbrushed away.
That was it; no more chances. It was the picture that would appear in the yearbook, the picture we would give to Grandma and Grandpa and some other relatives, and the one that my mom and dad would hang on a wall somewhere in the house.
Two months later, the pictures were delivered in the mail. Upon opening them, I immediately looked at my chin. It was airbrushed. The ink was gone. I was satisfied.
Then I discovered something.
As my family and I looked at the proofs, looked at the ink on my chin, the bug on my cheek, the shine on my forehead, we failed to notice the blue ink on my shirt that rubbed off when I was tying my necktie.
It wasn’t easy to notice in the small proof photos, but quite obvious in the large 8 by 10s.
Then someone noticed the red thread in my hair. It must have come from the red necktie, but we’re not sure. Again, it wasn’t so obvious in the small proof photos.
And what is that black speck below my right eye?
Again, that wasn’t noticeable in the small proof photos.
Fortunately, my picture in the yearbook is small and in black and white, and the black speck, the red thread, and the blue ink on my shirt are not visible.
But what is visible is the gray patch on my chin.
It seems that the airbrushing is not noticeable in the colored pictures, but in the black and white picture in the yearbook the airbrushed section is much lighter, and looks almost as if there is a beam of sunlight shining through a window and onto my chin.
But my classmates must realize that they knew me as being the same color all over, and not having a light patch on my chin.
All these years later, my family and I still laugh at my senior picture. And, I haven’t done so in many years, but I’m sure if I looked through my yearbook now, I could find lots of senior pictures with gray patches and specks and dots and messy hair and crooked neckties and shiny faces and…
© 2011 Biff Remington, Model Citizen - 4/26/11