The wisest choice I made as a teenager was to avoid being filmed in home videos. (The second wisest choice I made was to eat TWO Double-Doubles every time I went to In-N-Out. Ah, the metabolism of a teenager. I miss it.)
I don’t remember the precise year home video cameras were priced low enough that every American family decided to own one; but if memory serves, I believe our family got one Christmas 1985. I was 14 years old.
Few people can pull off 14 well. You’ve got Frankie Muniz, Michael Cera, and of course, Justin Bieber. I am none of those people. I knew it even then, so I avoided the lens.
There is some horrific footage of a 1988 Ward Roadshow practice where I played the unfortunate roll of John-Boy (of Waltons’ fame), and it is extremely painful to watch. If you are ever forced at gun-point to watch it, you can see that I clearly felt I was doing everyone a favor by showing up to practice. I had perfected the “eye roll” that all mentors and leaders enjoy seeing in youth, and I was chomping the heck out of a piece of gum – as if the flavor had personally offended me and I was going to kill it.
But as painful as it is, I occasionally watch the footage when I’m alone. Because it serves as a reminder that I was wise beyond my years to avoid being videotaped. I wince as I watch, then I pat myself on my back, and carefully put the video tape back in the unmarked shoe box in my closet. Never to be seen by my children.
Instead, my children snoop through things like old photo albums and boxes. And recently, Abbie found this photo of me.
Judging by the orange/pink/yellow medley going on with those swim trunks – combined with the light swirls of navel hair peeking through the life jacket – I’m going to say this is summer 1987. 16 years old.
I have no recollection of this photo being taken. But I absolutely love it, and here’s why:
- My kids think it looks awesome. THIS is how they think of me as a teenager, and not some plaid-wearin’, gum-chompin’, eye-rollin’ John-Boy who could eat two Double-Doubles with fries, root beer, and chocolate shake. (You're judging me, aren’t you?) So this picture has won me “cool points” with my kids.
- I think I might have U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” going through my head in this shot. This was the summer of The Joshua Tree, after all.
- I look at this photo and I feel washed over with nostalgia and memories of the water skiing trips of my youth - every summer, all summer long. At least I think they were all summer long. My memory of my teen years may be a bit fuzzy.
- The photo is slightly out of focus. Just a bit blurry. (Kind of like my memories of my teen years, apparently.)
- Look closely at my face. What do you see there? Is that…smolder? I could swear it is, but I have no idea how it got there. Try not to flirt back. That young man doesn’t exist anymore.