The other day, a lunatic asked Birdie for a headshot to include in a brochure for an event in which Birdie was scheduled to participate. (Note to reader: Birdie assumes only a lunatic or a cruel and callous person would ask her for a picture to plaster about on real and digital telephone poles like a poster for a lost cat. Birdie believes in giving the benefit of the doubt, so she has pegged this person as a lunatic rather than cruel and callus. It seems the kinder estimation.)
Since the shot needed to be recent-within the last decade, anyway-the lunatic may as well have asked for a feather from a Dodo bird. Or in this case, the Dodo Birdie.
In her search, Birdie ran across the family picture that had been taken last Christmas. Unfortunately, this picture of Birdie could have been included in The Illustrated Directory of Deadly Diseases.
Birdie looked like she was in the last stages of tetanus. Her jaws were locked in a toothy grin that had the tendons in her neck looking like you could pluck a tune on them, and her eyes were unnaturally focused on the camera. The rest of the family looked relaxed and, well…photogenic.
Birdie has always dreamed of being photogenic. For her high-school freshman year-book picture, Birdie’s intent was to convey a sense of mystery and romance. As she looked into the camera, she thought far-away thoughts and smiled an enigmatic smile. The picture shows her nostrils flaring in a “what’s that odor?” kind-of-way and a visage resembling someone beset with temporary amnesia.
The earliest hint that the camera was not going to be kind to Birdie was in the first grade. The photographer lined up the children on the steps of the elementary school, told them to move closer together, and without warning, snapped the shutter. The class was facing into the sun, and so, Birdie exhibited her trademark sun grin, this one so severe that she was actually grimacing, the tip of her tongue sticking slightly out the side of her mouth. The picture made Birdie look as if she wasn’t quite ready for the intellectual demands of first grade.
When she has advance notice that pictures will be taken, Birdie quickly inventories her options, trying to come up with something the camera won’t ridicule. She could tuck her chin, but that usually increases the number of her chins by at least one. She could smile with teeth, but then her lips disappear. If she smiles without teeth, it appears she is suffering from nausea but putting up a brave front.
Gerald, says, “Don’t think about it so much. You have sparkly eyes when you smile. Just relax and smile.”
Birdie has tried that, too. When she relaxes, her shoulders slump, and her stomach pooches. And her eyes? Well, when Birdie smiles, her eyes become slits, just like her sister’s Chihuahua when someone scratches its belly.
“Roll over, Birdie. Say cheese.”