March 13, 2010

Channeling a fine mug shot of Eleanor Roosevelt

This was my "Raven" for yesterday in the Courier and Press, Warrick. The editors ran two mug shots, mine and my twin Eleanor Roosevelt. The Courier and Press has asked all of the Periodic Wordsmiths (that would be columnists) to have new mug shots.

This forces me into an awful position. My current column mug shot shows a blond thirty-something.

I have been lying. In reality, I am a gray-headed fifty-something woman with a chicken neck and thick glasses. Why would I perpetuate such a lie?

If you have to ask that question, then you are obviously, a man. Suck in your gut, and get over yourself.
Women do this sort of thing all the time.

Those of us who live in the world of “having a good personality” (as in “Date my sister, she has a good personality.”) know all about these little tricks. Find one picture, and use it for your entire life.

On my social networking account, I do not use my own picture because I do not like the way I look. I use various pictures, depending on my mood. Sometimes I’m Snow White, sometimes I am Ella Fitzgerald, sometimes I am a glass bottle of Coca-cola. For Halloween, I used a photograph of candy corn.

Currently my mug shot is a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt resting her head on her hands. I am sure this is the only picture she used from the age of forty on. She is an American hero – and had a very good personality.

Someone who doesn’t know me very well commented on my site that it was “a good picture of me.” This cracks me up on so many levels. First, it tells me that I’m accepting too many “friend” offers. Second, I don’t look anything like Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt was probably the most famous American woman of the last century. She was America’s First Lady for a record four terms from 1933 to 1945,. She was named a “leader and revolutionary” among Time Magazine’s Top 100 Persons of the Twentieth Century.

I resemble my maternal grandmother at fifty-something. I am hopeful for my future because at seventy she resembled Maria von Trapp.

Most of my life, I have avoided having my picture taken by serving as family photographer. On those occasions when I was not the photographer, I was not happy with the outcome. At the birth of our child, the anesthesiologist grabbed our Polaroid and said, “Let’s get a picture of the two of you with your new baby.”

Is this a treasured family picture? I don’t think so.

In that two-decade old fading instant picture, my husband is beaming, radiant with the glow of new fatherhood. The baby is screaming, pimply, and resembled Beldar Conehead from the old Saturday Night Live. My face is swollen from the grimacing work of childbirth.
Every single pore on my face is open. No beaming, radiant look of motherhood here, rather, I have the look of “get that camera outta my face now” look.

At my own birth, my father says I looked like a cross “between a raccoon and an opossum.” (Well, he is a country boy.) I had lots of jet-black hair. My grandfather was standing at the nursery window, gazing at his first granddaughter, when two teenagers pointed at me. “Look at all the hair on that ugly baby.”

Grandfather purchased a white lace bonnet for me that day. The infant chapeau was sized for a one-year-old. Did he buy it on purpose? He continually asked my mother and grandmother “why isn’t the baby wearing the bonnet I bought her?”

Eventually the bonnet fit. Maybe the newspaper will let me use that photo as my mug shot, though I did have a chicken neck at ten months.