I was standing in front of the kitchen sink yesterday fiddling with something. H came up to me grinning, he pointed out a little suction cup thing stuck to his face.
“Oh no, quick, take that off!” I begged.
Why would a grown man, or someone such as myself who passes as a grown man, react so strongly to this?
Well see, today is picture day at his school.
I loved picture day when I was in grade school. I loved it because I loved anything that was different, that got us out of the routine, and if it got us out of the classroom even better. I liked jerking around with my friends and I’m a showoff so I like getting my picture taken. Picture day had a lot going for it.
The photographer for the company that handled our school’s yearbook account was named Jim. Jim came to our school every year, if they’d sent someone else I would have suspected something. Jim called us all by movie and television star’s names and we’d all laugh and convene later to compare notes.
I remember one year on picture day telling the school secretary that Jim had called me Burt Reynolds. She said, “You kind of look like him.”
“No way,” I shot back “I don’t have a mustache.” Like every other kid in the United States I’d seen Smokey and the Bandit.
“He didn’t have a mustache either when he was younger,” she replied. Man, she had me.
Everything is new in Kindergarten (when you don’t go to preschool) and so my first school picture day was then. My mom has always been on top of things and takes pride in her work, I’m sure she had my clothes together that morning (just like H’s Mom had his clothes for today laid out on his dresser). And I’m sure she had doublechecked that my hair was combed and that my teeth were brushed (just like I didn’t do this morning before we left for school).
What my Mom hadn’t counted on was my love of sticking concave objects such as water glasses, small bowls, or in this case a sharp edged 1970s hard plastic bright yellow ice cream scoop over my mouth, and sucking all the air out of the space, affixing the object to my face as if it had been epoxied.
In my Kindergarten school picture you can make out the ice cream scoop shaped bruise running around my face. Burt Reynolds indeed.
I told H that story after he pulled the little rubber sucky thingy off his cheek. His shrug told me that he was thankful for the important lesson and the anecdote from my childhood.