1. It has members of my family in it and I don’t know what they’re doing.
This instantly puts me on high alert. Knowing how some of my family members have a natural instinct to do things they probably shouldn’t, this document could easily become evidence in some sort of trial. Should I instantly destroy it and pretend like I didn’t just find it in this old scrapbook? At the very least, I should flip it over and see if there’s a date scribbled on the back so I can make sure I have an airtight alibi, even if I have to pay someone to make that happen.
2. There’s no date on the back.
We’re all in trouble. I can’t possibly develop an alibi that would cover a whole time period that, judging by the estimated ages of the participants, runs roughly from the early to mid 80s. But at least I was in college then, so maybe I can find some old fraternity brothers that can swear I was drunk in the frat house for two solid years and didn’t have the strength or coordination to get into any further mischief, especially incidents with elephants. Which is sort of true but also a complete lie. Despite heavy rounds of beer-bonging and incremental liver damage, I still managed to accomplish an extraordinary array of things I shouldn’t have attempted, but there’s no need for details at the moment. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
3. My mother apparently raised a child that I didn’t know about.
I recognize my youngest sister and youngest brother (fore and aft, with my Mom right behind fore). But notice the set of legs in the third position. There wasn’t another child in that chronological segment of the child-production assembly line, yet those cryptic legs seem to match the general age of the two known siblings. Interesting. Mommy, did you have a hobby that we didn’t about?
4. Of course, the elephant in the room is the elephant.
What the hell? Where did they find this thing? I mean, we had a zoo in my hometown, but I sure don’t remember that place having elephants that you could climb your ass on and smile for a camera. Which means this staff-reduced version of my family had to travel somewhere in order for this paparazzi session to take place. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t India, because we didn’t have that kind of money, and I don’t see any members of Duran Duran in the background making a music video. On the flip side, I didn’t know about the extra brother, so I’ve obviously missed a few memos.
5. Speaking of the background, why does it look like some type of archeological dig site?
Was somebody looking for yet another buried king in Egypt? Are there still more to find? Then again, we seem to have an awfully large amount of trees for this to be an Egyptian locale. No offense to the fine people of Egypt, but I don’t remember any Egyptian memoirs containing passages like “we looked out upon the vast forests of our land, dripping with moisture and heavy fruit, and we smiled, knowing that those crappy upstart rainforests of South America (we had kings before you had people!) could not begin to compete with our arboreal treasures.”
6. Those horrid brightly-colored tube socks.
Everyone wore them at the time. Why did we do that? What was wrong with us?
7. The dramatically asexual attendant to the right.
What is she looking at? Would it have killed him to look at the camera? And why does she seem to have more badges than necessary? Did he do something extraordinary at some point? Her cap is kind of jaunty, but he loses points for the poorly-tucked shirt. And she’s wearing cryptic sunglasses when no one else is, so he must have secrets. Her posture seems to speak of a military background, but the fact that he’s now working with elephants indicates that something went wrong somewhere with the career goals.
8. And s/he’s holding a cane in a menacing manner.
What’s up with that? Is she beating the elephant with it? I’m not really happy about things if he was doing that, but she’s obviously not using it to walk, like maybe he’s suffering from a war injury that still troubles her. Of course, if he was even minimally being unappreciative of the elephant, my sister would have leapt off that royal travelling-platform and kicked his ass, even if she was only six and wearing those non-combat jelly shoes which were so popular in that time period.
9. Speaking of that restrictive platform…
Don’t those menacing bars look like they might be a bit of a hindrance if the elephant decided to, I don’t know, do yoga? Those elephants weigh, like, 400 tons. If girl starts to roll, you’re not going to have enough time to extricate yourself from the Spanish-Inquisition stadium seating before your ass is squashed big-time. And that stupid little cane that your flight attendant is carrying is not going to help you much should things go south.
10. And finally, speaking of the elephant.
Doesn’t the poor thing look tired? I mean, maybe that’s the natural expression, and maybe the elephant doesn’t mind lugging family units with mysterious extra members from one end of the Egyptian excavation site to the other. (Which is, interestingly enough, how I feel when I go to staff meetings.) But do we really know that? Are we caring for the animals of this planet properly? Are we doing the right thing by taking them out of the wild and displaying them in unnatural habitats? Most importantly, can I be held financially responsible in even the remotest way for anything that happened before, during and after the photo shoot?
Maybe I should just quietly put this photo back in the scrapbook and shove the whole mess under the guest bed where I found it, ignoring my family’s history and distancing myself from their actions. It’s worked for the first 50 years of my life, so why buck a trend?
But that extra brother thing is still troubling. Does this mean I need to bring an extra present when I go home for Christmas, just in case there’s a dramatic Hallmark reunion hosted by Tori Spelling? Hmm…
(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 07/27/12, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)
Categories: My Life