Please Don’t Shoot Me

I’ve always loathed being on the lens end of a camera. Maybe that pre-teen awkwardness was something I never grew out of, or maybe I just hated having people stare at me, even for the two seconds it took to focus and push the button. But mostly, I think, it’s that I can’t find the Me in photographs. Shortish with dark hair and a penchant for bare feet, self recognition seemed to end there. Whose face is that? Are her dreams my dreams? Why doesn’t she smile? There’s a disconnect there and I don’t know how to piece it together. I suppose I just don’t want to be noticed, sometimes even by myself. I do wonder if I write to leave bits of me here and there — a picture in scribbled words where there are no images.

I’m not the only one. My mom hated having her picture taken, and solved the issue by grimacing or sticking her tongue out for every click of the camera. It was a pretty effective way to erase the possibility that maybe this was her real face, or worse, her real soul, being shown. Me, I just duck and turn my focus elsewhere.

I don’t know why. I think it started as shyness and morphed into reticence over the vast array of personalities out there, particularly in the early school years. How anyone gets through them is a mystery.

Of course the older I get, the less often someone asks for a photo, and that’s okay with me. As the decades have floated by and I’ve had to learn (or fake) adult interaction, it’s gotten easier — but I’ve also learned to turn off interaction when necessary. Life is filled with a zillion different kinds of people; the wise ones know this and celebrate diversity with careful choices. And on the days when all the crazies are out, there’s always the choice of an innocuous mask. Or a donkey. Donkeys are great attention grabbers, and they never, ever ask to take pictures of you.

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