When I got the e-mail I looked at my reflection on my computer screen and thought, ”Not bad.” My hair looked particularly nice since it was curling into a sweet flip much as it did in my senior picture. I debated snapping the selfie then and there, but that would detract from the meaning and fun of the planned picture gallery. Yeah, it would detract from the hilarity of the gallery had I taken the picture when my hair looked good.
On the night of May twenty-seventh, bad hair fairies snuck into my bedroom and stripped all the body from my hair. I woke up with my hair flying in every direction and the curl turned to frizz. The best I could do for my selfie was to pull most of my hair back in a ponytail at the nape of my neck. Okay—not too bad. My face still has some bone structure, but the bad hair fairies must have brought along their friends, the puffy-bags fairies.
Ha! Having been a disabilities advocate for way too many years, I am disciplined to work with what I have in front of me, so I soldiered on. I assessed my assets. I still have all my teeth and…well, I mentioned the bone structure, and I have all my teeth. My other asset is that I own a fairly good camera.
Finally, I settled down to take the photo itself. I knew the technical basics of taking a selfie, but had never actually taken one. The first batch of photos revealed that I still had wispy hairs standing on end, and I looked as if Jabba the hutt was coming for me. Okay, I didn’t need to recoil from the camera, and this was not a terrifying experiment.
Once I rejected the Jabba-the-hutt-is-coming-for-me photos, I had a selection of unacceptable options. So I tried again. This time they were better. I did like the one where the camera magnified my right eye in a manner reminiscent of Mad Eye Moony. I rejected those where the sunlight seemed to magnify my mustache--time for a wax.
Keeping the Mad Eye Moony picture as a backup. I took another batch. When I downloaded these I could see a definite improvement in my photographic skills, but no. Well, I did have one I rather liked that would make a decent professional-type photo if you go for the this-woman-is-going-to-do-unspeakable-things-to-your-body-if-you-don’t-give-this-kid-services look. I have to save that picture—so mean, but dignified.
Finally, I broke the project down into the basic elements of where to hold the camera, where to focus my eyes, and what angle would minimize the signs of my stroke. Once I tackled the problem in a more scientific fashion, I made rapid progress toward a decent photo.
Eventually, I decided I needed to work harder on my pleasant thoughts to get the right expression. Fantasies of going to my class reunion as a best selling author produced a nice photo, but it looked a little stuck-up. Thoughts of walking though my gardens reflected the pathos of weeds in the garden. Remembering that I still have all my teeth, I smiled thinking about having a party with all my friends, which produced a nice but somewhat stilted photo. Finally, after taking one hundred and twenty-two shots, I started getting a little silly. I thought about Vladimir Putin without his shirt. This produced a merry, flirtatious photo with a generous display of my own teeth and a twinkle in my eye. So thus it was, that I sent off Vladimir-Putin-without-his-shirt to be my picture for the gallery at my class reunion.