Usually, when scouting the field for some good subjects, I employ the ‘shoot & run’ tactic, an effective choice if you don’t mind angry cries and blurred images.
But today, when I was skulking around Brookline in the spring-like weather, taking my new Diana+ camera out for a test drive, I saw a photographic opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up; to walk away would have plagued me with nightmares of regret. A man was leaning against the brick wall of Kribel’s Bakery, smoking a cigarette. He looked middle age with sandy hair — styled loosely in a rockabilly coif — and tattoos and he sported tube socks that would have made Christina swoon; he looked like he was trying to grasp on to the last few strands of punk mentality that life had alotted him, like maybe he had gotten married and his wife was trying to force him to "grow up" but they compromised on a few accessories.
As I approached, I recognized him as the baker from Kribel’s; I had seen him just a few weeks ago when I stopped in to buy a cake for Kim’s birthday and I remember promptly calling Henry to inform him of my new crush. I knew I needed his picture. But I didn’t hide behind a car or garbage can. I didn’t act like I was trying to "fix" something on the camera as I strolled past, looking skyward and murmuring "Tweedle dee dee." I didn’t pretend like I was taking a picture of the awesome brick wall next to him. I didn’t distract him by baring my breasts.
No, I walked up to him, caught his eye, and asked, "Do you mind if I take a picture of you?" I wanted a real photo of him; not streaks of his blue shirt, or the ground, or the sky, as I tried unsuccesfully to be covert.
His hand froze, cigarette midway to his mouth, and he repeated my request. "Can you take MY picture?" He looked around to see if anyone had heard. I didn’t make up a story about being a photography student. I didn’t pretend to be a tourist. I told the truth.
"I just got this toy camera, and I would really like to take your picture." OK, maybe I slipped in something about a fake portfolio. And that I wanted to fill it with faces of Brookline, a community that’s so dear to my heart. But for the most part, there was no nose-growing. He said yes, and two old men sitting nearby on a bench scurried away into a store, probably afraid they were next on my hit list.
Jesus Christ: enjoying Pixar movies, mending charred bridges, and now asking for permission to photograph someone in lieu of flat out stalking? What’s next — helping old bitches across the street? Don’t worry — I was terrorizing unsuspecting pedestrians with my Holga in another part of Pittsburgh earlier today, so it’s balanced.
My friend Lisa is home on winter break, so we did the lunch/hang out thing yesterday. She’s one of the few people from high school worth staying in touch with: she’s not a twat, she’s not fake, and I don’t have to worry about her leaking any behind-closed-doors aspects of my life: a rare trait to find in a person these days. (Am I right, Keri? Dumb cunt.)
Lisa moved to Colorado last year for school, and since I haven’t seen her since she last visited in July, I let her decide which restaurant would be the lucky establishment to have us as diners. She chose Aladdin’s, where she requested a second basket of pita and proceeded to waste it, but nothing was spilled this time, not even a tiny dribble of olive oil. I was proud of her; she must be drinking less.
After sitting through a meal and hearing things like, “You’re still so weird,” and “There’s always something crazy going on in your life” (and by crazy, I think she met dramatic), we crossed the street for some biscotti, which was sold to us by a very brusque and impersonal shop owner. Lisa bought a giant chocolate cookie and was pleased when he slid a warm and fresh one off a tray straight from the oven, but when we got back to my house, she theorized that he was really only choosing the most deformed cookie in the shop — it was pretty malformed and pathetic-looking. But tasty, I’ll give it that. The shop was supposedly voted one of the top ten bakeries in America, but I found the biscotti to be so-so. (Of course, I didn’t check to see the source of this high accolade, so for all I know, it could have been some fat kid updating a 5-visitors-a-week blog from a dank basement in Idaho, on which completely reverent articles about Twinkie recipes and World of Warcraft are meticulously scribed.)
I gave Chooch a piece of a chocolate biscotti, and he only needed to see my dunking mine in coffee once before he elbowed his way to my lap and ravagingly tried to dunk his own. A caffeinated Chooch is all we need, so Henry took the lid of Chooch’s sippy cup and let him dunk it in chocolate milk. Chooch made it down to the last bite before turning his face and making a disgusted “no more” sound in his throat, so Henry popped the chocolate milk-saturated piece into his own mouth and I promptly dry-heaved.
“Chooch dipped that in his milk!” I cried.
“Yeah, so?” Henry answered defiantly.
“You just ate his floaters!!”
Lisa laughed and Henry explained to her that I’m essentially a horrible mother and we all laughed and then took pictures and Nicotina bit Lisa and then Lisa peed while I put my make up on for work and we hugged goodbye in my bathroom — an appropriate place to end a day with Lisa.
She goes back to Colorado on Monday and I won’t see her for at least six months. That’s three friends I had to say goodbye to in one week, the kind of trauma that might make a weaker-willed person hang themselves. Just sayin’.
Then I went to work and my boss told me my hair looked like crap.
shiny door prizes like panini presses and a magic wand for can-opening ease,
a chocolate fountain centered around an array of fresh fruit and lady fingers in scandelous poses?
Not our department holiday party.
No, we got cold cuts drowning in a mucous-like moat, cheese slices that needed the aid of Freddy Krueger’s nails to be surgically removed from each other, a bowl of frozen fruit slices, and a giant sheet cake that had nauseating pink flowers piped precariously around the perimeter. (I deduced at once that it was going to be an offensive supermarket bakery cake, so I walked past it with my nose in the air.) We got scratch off tickets and Tina’s hair collar and a platter of bland cookies that were at least moist and not stale like I had initially suspected.
The cheese lasagna was a real treat, though.
1. A dayshifter who sits next to me. I rue the days she works late because she laughs like an engorged elephant cock is lodged in her throat and she’s trying to summon her inner Vesuvius to phlegm it back up. She handles a runny nose like your typical Teamster: loud, wet and crackly, like a bowl of exploding Rice Krispies is draining down her throat. She’s nice though.
2. Hey Tina, ever since you switched to the day shift, something really confusing and alarming has arrested me: I think I like you. Not in a ‘Hey, let’s go French in a bathroom stall’ kind of way, but in a ‘You’re over here talking to me yet I have no urge to inflict any bodily damage.’ But no, I’m not sad that I wasn’t sitting at your table. And while I imagine playing games with a bullyishly dominate personality such as your own is a dream come true for some (like perhaps a tribe of indigents who have never played games before) I’m not jealous that your table was playing Taboo, as rousing and scintillating as it sounded.
3. Big Bob. He stole Collin’s Hot Pockets and made him cry.
4. Non-Big Bob’s plate of meat goods were a little too close to me. I felt violated and kept imagining someone gagging me with that slab of ham.
I was happy to be seated at a table of socially capable people — Lindsay, Bill, Brandie, and (Non-Big) Bob. However, we were joined by Stanley. I am fortunate to not have to deal with him because he works during the day and sits over by Bill and Lindsay. He has no filter, kind of like a child, and random strings of rudeness spray from his mouth in fairly consistent intervals. When we were walking up to the Mezzanine, one of the more heavy and elderly employees was up ahead, taking each step with deliberate slowness. Stanley yelled up, “Hey, Donna, we need to get you an escalator.” Someone behind him called him on his rudeness, only making him justify himself. “What? It’s true! Donna needs an escalator!” If I had to deal with that brand of idiocy for eight hours a day, one of us would have lost our job by now.
Stanley spent a good fifteen minutes diligently rubbing off five scratch off tickets, and even after inspecting them closely above his head, he still found reasonable cause to have Lindsay double-check. I took a picture of his crotch from under the table. Sadly, no boners arose from the rub-off frenzy.
And Bob, poor Bob; he stared off into the distance most of the time, mourning his other half’s absence. (Collin called off.) He seemed lost in thought, and I wondered if he was thinking about all the nights he and Collin spent playing their little celebrity chain game to pass the time while braiding daisy chain crowns for each other’s heads.
One of the games everyone (and by everyone I mean the Daytime Clique) was playing consisted of taping the name of a celebrity to each player’s back, and then everyone had to take turns asking a question to find out who they were. I told Bob it would be a good game for him and Collin to play and he lit up. “You’re right! I didn’t even make that connection!” Then he smiled to himself for awhile, probably rewinding the Collin-montage in his head.
Bill spoke of foreign-sounding things for awhile before I realized he was speaking in baking-tongue, while Lindsay smiled at me like an adoring fan and laughed at all of my antics, like when I took a picture of this guy who I have never seen before in my life, but supposedly he’s part of our department and works upstairs (if you want to take Bill’s word for it) and then ten minutes later I blurted out, “Oh shit, I think I made myself have a crush on that guy!” Lindsay giggled. In my head, I dubbed her my new work BFF. I’m not sure who the old one was. Bill perhaps, even though working opposing shifts has really driven a wrench in our rapport.
He doesn’t even bring me brownies anymore. I bet he brings some for Tina, in tiny baskets lined with rich Italian linen. Well, they can have each other.
Kim approached our table and asked why we weren’t playing games. Maybe it was just me, but I thought it was pretty obvious that our table was way too cool for parlor games, at least the ones that didn’t involve heavy betting and liquor. “We’re playing our own game,” I said. “It’s where everyone tells me how cool I am.” I smirked appropriately and Kim acted like she was about to be sick.
Since I pitched in a devastating twenty dollars to this elitist shindig, I gave myself a goal of “eat more than you paid for,” but the party started at 11AM and I just really wasn’t hungry. So in the end, I probably only ate $5 worth, which jacks me right off. (However, later on that evening, I had a piece of leftover lasagna for dinner. This is how it was made possible: ”Tina, you know how you’re always looking for a reason to leave your desk?” Tina looks at me, slightly frightened, before cautiously saying, “……yes?” I jump in for the kill. “Will you get me lasagna?” What? I didn’t want to lift that big pan-y thing out of the fridge! So Tina did. And it was decent.)
Then it was time to go back to work. Most people offered to help clean up, but I just got up and left.