Friday, February 20, 2004

For God's Sake, Stay BEHIND THE CAMERA! 

There comes a time in life when we learn not to take everything at face value. Eventually we all stop believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, knowing that we'd been fed a lie all along. A wonderful, fanciful lie, but a lie nonetheless. There comes a point in life when you realize that your parents are not only human, but that they probably led a life a lot like yours while they were growing up. You realize that you're not the only one who's had to go to school, been made fun of or had your bike stolen.

Wait a minute...I never had my bike stolen. Did I even HAVE a bike? shit...

Either way, you'll have many moments of epiphany in your lifetime. Some great, some small. Some that hit you like a ton of bricks and some that hit you while you have egg on your face. Literally. Allow me to explain...

We weren't a poverty-stricken family, but we were far from wealthy. We didn't have things lying around the house like computers or camcorders. My sister and I had to beg and plead for a computer for Christmas one year. It was the ColecoVision Adam. More of a glorified game console than an actual computer, but it was everything we had seen in our dreams and more. We did get it. It was ok. But we never got a camcorder.

I still don't have a camcorder. I have a digital camera, but no camcorder. I guess if I had a camcorder, I'd have to face up to the sad reality that I have nothing to tape with the camcorder. Cest la vie. Anyway, some of my best childhood memories still linger from 2 magical weekends when I was about 12 or 13. As a family, we rented a camcorder.

Before the big video chains hit town, we rented our videos at "National Video" which was owned by a friend of my Dad's. I experienced a lot during the early days of video rental. I learned how to hook a rental VCR up to our ancient TV...I learned some new words from films like "Cat Ballou" and Mel Brooks' "To Be Or Not To Be..." And I learned that my very own video franchise was just a phone call away.

They asked me for money when I called. Just sign me up, I'll send the money once I make it! Don't you guys understand how this works? anyway...

One thing that had often caught my eye was a camcorder that was always in the store. Upon inquiry, I was told that, for the paltry sum of $19.99, anyone could rent the camcorder for an entire weekend. An entire weekend! With a camcorder! My little brain immediately overflowed with ideas and schemes for all of the wonderful things that we could record! My sister, too was on board with the idea, so we pitched it to Mom.

As I said before, we were not wealthy. $19.99 may has well have been a million dollars to me and it seemed to be a stumbling block for Mom as well. Someday, maybe, we could rent that camcorder. But not that day.

Mom was good at getting around to letting us have what we wanted. We did eventually rent the camcorder for a weekend. My sister and I filmed everything we could think of, including some very basic stop-action animation, a couple of uber-lame music videos, a very short episode of my own cooking show, some obligatory tapings of hamster antics, a couple of spoof commercials and probably lots more. On Sunday, as our weekend was winding down, it was apparent that my Mom was yearning to get her time in the limelight as well.

It was sometime in March, I can't remember when exactly. It was a little cool outside and it was nearly evening. My Mom decided she had to act fast. She said that she had a special idea for the camera and that we'd have to go outside. My sister Heather was to be her partner for this special idea and I was to be the cameraman.

I was relegated to cameraman!? What the Hell, lady!? I was a star!

I should interject at this point that I'm the second of two children. Do some research! Parents are notoriously soft on second children. I knew that if I voiced displeasure about the impending arrangement, I could surely have my way, so that's just what I did. I won. I was to be my Mom's very special partner for her very special show.

What a dipshit move that turned out to be.

We all went out to the backyard and set up by the far fence. The camera was rolling, Mom was interviewing me..."What season is it, Derek?" "Spring!" I squeaked, not yet having developed an adult voice. "That's right, and what holiday is coming up?" my Mother inquired. "Easter?" I replied. "That's right, Easter. And what do you search for on Easter?" she asked. "Eggs!" I squeaked!


With that exclamation, my Mother smashed a raw egg on my forehead and ran, laughing toward the house. THAT had been her entire plan. My sister diligently kept the camera trained on me to capture my reaction. I had just been served up a giant shit-sandwich full of indignation. I had also, unwittingly, saved my sister from the horror that I was experiencing at that moment. As I stood in my backyard with egg, literally, on my face, I realized that sometimes things aren't what they seem and sometimes, my Mother isn't looking out for my best interests. She's human. She laughs at the misery of others just as much as I do.

I wasn't my Mother's first choice to visit searing emotional pain and humiliation upon. She had planned all along to smite her first-born. My dumb ass had changed the course of history. I guess I can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that I may be the favorite after all. The way I see it, if someone offers you the role of "partner" or "Cameraperson," choose the latter.

After all, what can possibly happen BEHIND the camera?

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