No offense, but when we say “Sure, I’d love to see photos on your phone of your dog/grandkids/vacation,” what we really mean is “Please God, no.” We don’t even know why. We know we ought to want to see a tiny picture of your dog, but somehow we never get the joy out of it that we’re supposed to, and now we want to talk with someone else.
It’s a lot easier to bore people comatose these days. We have so many bite-sized, snappy ways to do it, and they take almost no time at all. But we sense them adding up. Ten seconds into someone else’s favorite youtube snippet, we already feel our lives ebbing away.
|Taking mushroom pictures|
You used to have to work at it harder. But my father was not a lazy man. When we had company for dinner, he hauled out the pull-up picture screen in the living room, with its odd, sharp, sparkly scent of futility and despair, and he set up the slide projector and fiddled with it until things were centered. And then he showed his slides of mushrooms and spider webs, pausing significantly at each one to intone a Latin name and allow for proper appreciation. He liked mushrooms and spider webs, personally, and while he no doubt suspected it wasn’t of general interest, he simply had no other entertainment marbles in his bag. Our guests would murmur politely and cast surreptitious glances at the slide projector to gauge progress, and then everyone would put their coats on and leave.
At least we didn’t have much company. Actually, all we had was the Dunns. Myrtle and Larry Dunn were an older couple from church, and the only acquaintances that could conceivably be wedged into Daddy’s narrow comfort zone. Mr. Dunn was grumpy like my dad and Mrs. Dunn was nice like my mom. She always complimented my mom on her famous homemade bread, twinkled at me across the table while she and mom agreed how fast “they” grow up, and then it was off to the slide show and out the door.
Mom was the one who was into people, or at least she was nice. She was rumored to have had a social life before she married my father. I hope she liked how I turned out because her social life with grownups dwindled sharply. She’d invite Myrtle and Larry over about once a year, and they always retaliated, I mean reciprocated, about a week later. “I wish she wouldn’t do that!” Mom would say when she hung up the phone, but under her breath, because she was nice.
A social life is a fine thing, but there’s no need to overdo it.
At least with a slide show the room lights are down… maybe there are enough other people to cover your inattentiveness… and you can doze a bit after dinner. No such luck with a smartphone, as it is such a small picture it can only be seen by one person at a time. They look at you with such expectation of praise, too. So it's especially sad when I hand back their phone after viewing their grandkid with a "Yup. That's a baby, all right." The look of disappointment I get. But one doesn't want yo encourage that sort of thing, after all.
I have some politeness forced on me. For instance, I'm not a strong enough bicyclist to be aggressive and rude. And my phone is too small to show anyone any pictures.
I still have a flip-phone. People look at me as if I am using one of those old-timey candlestick phones.
That's what is so great about instagram: You can just post your grainy pictures of mushrooms, spare your family friends entirely, and know that 500 people who WANT to look at grainy pictures of mushrooms will find you!
Your dad sounds like an interesting guy.
I'd be the person in the room going "OoooOOoo" over the spider web pictures. A picture with an actual spider would have me jumping up and down in my seat. Mushrooms…. meh…. I prefer them in a nice pasta sauce.
Wait…. Is it the other way around…..? No…. Okay…never mind…..
My dad WAS an interesting guy. Eloquent, opinionated, and generally miserable in social situations, but he was a great teacher, especially if you were a little kid (I was), and he actually knew all the answers.
"when we say 'Sure, I'd love to see photos on your phone of your dog/grandkids/vacation," what we really mean is "Please God, no.' "
Exactly! I am sending this post to all my friends who insist I view photos of their adorable son/daughter/dog/grandchild, which, it turns out is a long list of people. Thanks for the grins, Murr. 🙂
Glad to hear there's more than one of us. Otherwise I'd have to consider that I'm a horrible person. Being one of several horrible people isn't so bad.
I ditched my old slide projector about 10 years ago when I realized that the last time I remember looking at slides was about 20 years prior to that. Sold it for a few bucks, literally, on EBay.
It's amazing to me how thoroughly people have abandoned non-digital cameras and accoutrements. You'd think there'd be some holdouts, but I don't know any.
I find the best way to interest people in seeing pictures is to take pictures of THEM and show them those. Works every time.
Not for me. That is guaranteed to have me making a speedy exit. Which I suspect some people realise.
Me, too, EC, but . . . OTHER people 🙂
I find at age 80 that old photos help me to remember my past life. I like that.
I look at old (really old) photos of myself and wonder why I thought I was so plain. Not that I was pretty, exactly–but there's so much unearned beauty in youth.
Darn! I have an exceptional collection of photos of fall leaves and I even know the names of many…and I felt you would enjoy them so much!!
(I would. Especially in a slide show.)
"..then everyone would put on their coats and leave." Perhaps that was your father's purpose, so he could settle down for a quiet evening without having to make small talk.
Oh god–I can still remember watching him sitting uncomfortably with his hands folded together, thumbs twitching. Poor guy. He always said he wished he'd been a fire-tower watchman.
But MY dog is really cute and does lots of amusing things. Give me your email address and I'll send you some photos!
OH, you can find it. 🙂
Guilty. When I am forced to engage socially, I tend to pull up pictures of my dog because I’m more comfortable with my dog and would much rather be with her. I imagine that’s how your dad felt about mushrooms. After dinner with the Dunns, he missed mushrooms and needed to visit with them.
Yeah! Every now and then I think pictures of us kids showed up toward the end, too. The Dunns lit up at that. Even though we were RIGHT THERE.
One of my daughter's friends was at a ballet rehearsal with her daughter, and discovered that she had forgotten her movie camera. As she apologized to her daughter, the daughter said, "You could just watch me." The wisdom of children.
That would be a learning moment, huh?
I don't like having people over, nor do I like going to people's places. I tire easily and I don't want to get up in the middle of dinner and tell my guests to have a good time but I have to go to bed now, or go out and come home 30 minutes after I get there. People get upset but it's not something I can control. I quite like mushroom pictures, and can send you some lovely ones. 🙂 If you are feeling a lack that is.
I'm getting more like that all the time, although not to the degree you're talking about. I think my former interest in staying out at a party had more to do with being the age when you're basically on the make, and drinking too much.
Last week I was a guest at a B&B&D (dinner was part of the daily rate). One evening, I asked the nice man, George, who waited on our table morning and evening, how his day had been. He said very good, as he had been visiting a dog he'd found on Facebook which someone was trying to place for adoption. George said he wanted to get a friend for his current dog, which had been rescued in Egypt with a broken leg after a car accident, been brought to the US by some rich people who liked saving dogs. He showed me picture of this dog. It looked like a white German Shepherd. George was very pleased about the prospect of getting a 2nd dog. I showed him a picture of our dog. He told me his sister had pet goats. We got along well.
All of which is to say, looking at dog pix can make strangers into friends, which is a good thing, and (agreeing with Murr here) it can make friends into hostages, not a good thing.
Also, keep it short, limit yourself to one picture each, and order the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. CHEERS
My dad was George! And he loved dogs, but wouldn't let us have one. "City's no place for a dog," he'd say, but shoot. He had burros and chickens and cocker spaniels and I don't know what-all when he was a kid.