Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fun With Ugly

One evening years ago, while me, my wife and our little boy were camped along the Elkhorn River in northern Nebraska, I was making a pot of soup over an open fire. The odor must have been irresistible for soon a neighbor walked up and started small talk.  I offered him a bowl of soup and he quickly accepted.  I then poured him a bourbon on the rocks and he gratefully accepted that too.

This fellow, about my age, was an itinerant photographer. He traveled throughout the West taking portraits at schools, churches, and clubs. His specialty was baby pictures. The man was extremely happy with his job and very proud of his work. In fact, after the second bourbon he rushed back to his tent and toted over a large album of his best baby photos.
While looking through his album, I was stunned by the quality of this man's work . . . stunned, that is, not by the high quality of his work, but stunned at how terrible the photos were. They were awful. This poor chap, who smiled lovingly as he turned each page and who took such pleasure at showing me the album seemed to have a God-given gift for highlighting the flaws and imperfections in each of his tiny subjects–-red spots, rashes, pointed heads, lazy eyes, bad teeth, crooked smiles–-all seemed to be accentuated in this man's photos. I did not see one child that could be called cute, cuddly or adorable, not in the least; indeed, most were ugly and grotesque in the extreme. Many photographers, I've heard, snap three or four shots and pick the best. This unlucky man must have drilled a dozen and picked only the worst.

I think what was even more shocking than the hideous photos themselves was that this otherwise intelligent and seemingly well-adjusted man utterly lacked the objectivity or discretion, or maybe even the clarity of vision, to see how atrocious these photos were.  Makes me wonder what his wife looked like.

He was a good, decent guy who loved what he did, but I am absolutely certain that as of this writing he has drifted to another line of work—Dunkin Doughnuts baker, professional dog walker, meals-on-wheels van driver, U.S. Senator, septic tank cleaner, any job that would keep him away from cameras and children would be a blessing.


Elvis-Be-Gone--I mentioned in the last blog that we have so many of these lame ass Elvis impersonators down here that at times it seems like every other person you meet on the street is an “All Shook Up” wannabe.  Judging by the stale frequency of their ads in the paper and the number of shop window posters, these pests are so numerous, in fact, that on any given day, on any given street, in any given town down here, one might grab some sweaty panties that just happen to be laying on the sidewalk, toss them over their shoulder, and hit two or three fat-bellied Elvisi right in their silly-looking black wigs.

It occurs to me now why we are plagued with so many tedious and monotonous Elvis “performers” at this time of year.  Just like the carnies who winter in Florida, so too do these Elvis birds flock south to wait out the bad weather before winging north in the spring to plague the sixty-and-up crowds at the numerous American Legion posts and the equally multitudinous VFWs from Oil Spill, Texas, to Muck Lake, Minnesota, as well as the hundreds of boring “Indian” casinos in the north and the thousands of greasy gizzard restaurants scattered around the Midwest.

But what a load!  Bad enough we get the millions of meth addicts and the hundreds of thousands of chronic (and crazy) homeless-sapiens year-round, but we must also endure the senile seniors, the tattooed carnies and these poor Elvis losers for five months out of the year. 

Bangladesh is looking better and better.


How Low?  I have mentioned before that there are crimes, and then there are sins.  Pilfering a church, stealing from a Salvation Army collection pot and knocking cripples from their wheelchairs are just a few “sins” I have pointed out. 

Girl Scouts were selling cookies outside a local grocery store the other day . . . Who?  GIRL SCOUTS!  For most, this was their first introduction to work and duty and trust.  It had been a good day.  As they were giggling and packing it up after a successful morning of sales, all excited after their “first day at work,” some individual managed to clean out the till when no one was looking.  Only $74 in actual money was lost, but a whole hell of a lot of human trust went down the drain as well.  Let’s hope the wretch who did it has some sort of moral epiphany sometime soon or, if not, let’s hope that he ODs in a few and rids the world of his useless carcass, whichever comes first. 
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