Out With the Old

It was t-shirt weather and I donned one of my favorites before heading out for a picnic supper at Sunset Rock in beautiful White County. I found the shirt a couple of years ago at Walmart and could kick myself for not buying every one they had in my size. It’s gray and has big black letters on the front that read BAD CHOICES MAKE GOOD STORIES. Instead of the letter “O,” there are two hearts in the word GOOD. I wear the shirt often, especially when I go to writing conferences, and it always gets a lot of comments.

But back to the picnic. A handful of friends and I sat on the tailgate of a pick-up truck eating baloney sandwiches and swapping stories. One story got me so tickled I began to laugh uproariously. Someone pulled out a cell phone and snapped a picture.

That picture accompanies this column, I hope.

I wrote last week about how dreadful my new passport photo is and suggested, totally tongue-in-cheek, that I was considering substituting it for the one I’ve been using for the past five years with this column. That photo was taken at daughter Meg’s wedding and I really like it. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s okay to keep using it.  My hair is sprinkled with a few more strands of silver now and my face has more wrinkles. Am I being dishonest by pretending I still look 57 years old?

As far as I know, there’s no rule about photos that accompany newspaper columns or even obituaries. I can’t count the number of times I’ve scanned the death notices in the Herald-Citizen and thought a young person had died, only to discover that the deceased was actually quite elderly. And that’s okay. It’s only natural to want to look your best whatever the circumstances.

Which is why I hope no one but the security folks at customs will ever get a glimpse of my passport photo. And why I’m planning to give the candid snapshot taken in the Sunset Rock parking lot a chance. As I begin writing this column (early in the morning on New Year’s Day, after a night of not staying awake until midnight), I haven’t yet consulted with my editors about whether the photo will work for their purposes. I suspect they’ll have to crop it to a head shot and leave out the t-shirt entirely, which is unfortunate because that’s the best part. They may say that a photo with my head thrown back and my eyes closed and nothing much but teeth to identify me just won’t work.

If that’s the case, I’ll keep on using the picture from the wedding. But I’ll be disappointed, because I have one gigantic resolution for 2018. I’m going to try to laugh uproariously as often as I possibly can.

(January 7, 2018)