"Hey! Hey! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Boo! Boo!"
The babies looked up at me in annoyance, then cast their suspicious eyes upon the photographer.
"Well, I guess we won't use that one," she said.
We'd already been there for too long, taking picture after picture. You stand here, you face her, look lovingly at each other, could you get the babies to cross their legs and hold the umbrellas in their left hands while whistling? Okay, so I made that last one up, but she may as well have been asking that. They're two. They don't really pose on command.
Why we were even there, in the mall department store's tiny portrait studio with a white sheet tossed over a ledge for background, I still don't know. I'd been drawn to the store with one of their super duper deals. $35 for every size photo imaginable plus greeting cards.
I'd figured it'd just be one pose. A family portrait. When the woman kept snapping and snapping away, I got my hopes up. First the family, then the parents, then the babies. Huh. Maybe we could choose multiple poses. Of course we could. For only an extra hundred bucks or so. Oh, Olan Mills. Good to see some things never change. You disappointed me 20 years ago with class pictures, and you disappoint me now.
I asked for the "laser" background, and the photographer didn't even crack a smile. I thought it was hilarious! Maybe she's too young to remember the coolest class picture background that my mother would never let me get. I was always stuck with the classic blue fuzzy background.
Anyway, after a multitude of shots where she chased the babies around with a multicolored feather duster to get them to laugh (haha, no, it got them to cling to my legs in fear), we had enough shots to go through and choose.
My favorite part of the trip was when the photographer was annoyed at us for only wanting the deal we signed up for. Like we'd wasted her time taking all those extra shots. But, in the age of digital photography, it's not even like she wasted film. Enough with the attitude. We'd just like our first cheesy mall family portrait, please.
"What would you like on the greeting cards?" she asked.
"Oh, I don't know. How about Happy Easter? That would be nice for family."
Then I was forced to leave for a bit to keep my restless babies under control. Going through all of their "deals and options" took a long time, and there's only so long jumping over cracks in the floor will amuse toddlers. Especially when there are glass bowls on display in the home department, right there, ripe for the breaking.
I got back just in time to pay. "These will be ready May 2nd. When would you like to pick them up?"
I looked at her blankly. "May 2nd?"
She rolled her eyes. "Yes, we have to blah blhablhabljabl" (I don't care what she said here. It's all crap anyway, these are digital pictures, and if they aren't, then what the heck?!)
"Right..." I ventured. "That's all well and good. But Easter is April 24th. It would have been helpful to know that the delivery date would be a week after the holiday...you know, since I said Happy Easter on the greeting cards."
So, why did I drag my family to a mall to get an old-fashioned out-of-date chintzy family portrait? Is it nostalgia for my youth? I remember turning excitedly to my husband as we pulled into the parking lot saying, "I've never gotten one of these as the adult in the family! I've only been the child!" Is it a sense of family duty? Does everyone get them?
I know that this will likely be our only one, after that experience. I have a digital camera, and while I don't have any skills behind the lens, every once in a while I get lucky. Plus, Walgreens will print out as many different pictures as I want for 20 cents a photo, and I get them all on the internet.
Plus, at least the babies smile for me.
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