Friday, 22 April 2011

How to get me to smile for the camera

I've always had trouble smiling for the camera. Browsing through the family albums, I find myself looking grim, or staring blankly, or mugging, or at best forcing a tight, little smile. Picture-takers through the generations have implored me to smile and show teeth. I just can't seem to do it convincingly, on demand.

A rare exception is the official P.S. 102 graduation picture from June, 1952. I'm in the first row, seventh from the right, smiling perfectly and flashing the pearly-whites.

I wondered about this photographic anomaly. Then a dim memory flickered and soon it all came back. Sitting next to me was a boy named Pete. Nice, friendly kid. I remember that just as the picture was being taken, Pete poked me briskly with his left arm and said something like, "Smile, goddammit!" As you can see, it worked.

Brisk poking apparently agreed with Pete. Four years later he and his twin brother Nick (front row, second from the right) both won Golden Gloves boxing championships at Madison Square Garden.

A couple of years ago, Brooklyn Girl wanted to photograph me with two of the grandchildren, but as usual my smiling mechanism was out to lunch. I said to the children, "Tickle Grandpa." They obeyed and she snapped the photo. It worked again.


  1. An animated response!

  2. Dear Mr. Molar,
    That's what the picture-takers say: smile, darn ya, smile! I've tried everything: putting on a happy face, smiling at trouble, laughing at life, letting a smile be my umbrella, singing hallelujah, walking happy, having a sunny disposish,,, nothing seems to work. Next time I'll try thinking of this cartoon; maybe that'll do the trick.