I was at work today. Doin my lil job. Up to the photo counter walks this lady. A white upper-class, middle-aged woman. Blond hair. A deep tan this early in the season. She dropped off two rolls of film and then she whipped out a disposable camera.
"This is my daughter's...it was laying on her desk and I noticed that it was finished...I figured I would do her a favor and get it done for her while I'm here!"
I gave her the fake smile and filled out her order forms for her and sent her on her way. I process the two rolls first...it's just pictures of suburban family life...spring break on the beach, bicycle rides, pictures of a teenage girl in a formal dress.
Then I processed the last roll, her daughter's.
It was the teenage girl from the first two rolls...and she was with another teenage girl in the pictures.
Pictures of them lying across a bed.
Pictures of them with their heads pressed together making funny faces at the camera.
Pictures of them with their arms around one another.
Halfway through, the pictures quit being friendly.
It was pictures of them kissing.
Running their fingers through one another's hair.
Pictures of them staring longingly into one another's eyes.
The very last picture was two hands coming together to make a heart. Complete with matching rainbow thumb rings.
Of course, images of two women in love with one another is always a nice sight, in my opinion. But I didn't stop and gawk at the pictures or anything, just cut and sleeved the negatives and packaged the orders and soon forgot about them.
Until the woman came back to pick them up. I wasn't paying her much attention...she paid for the three packages and like most people, she stood right there at the counter and ripped them open. I always stay close by when people do that just to ensure that there's no complaints or concerns. I didn't watch her look through the first two...just saw her smiling out of the corner of my eye. Heard her soft sighs as she went through the pictures. This was a woman overjoyed with her perfect little suburban family...her heart was just bursting with love and warmth as she flipped through the images.
I didn't look directly at her again until I heard soft sobs. She was sniffling something awful, her face had gone beet red, and pure pain was in her eyes. She was going through the third package, her daughter's pictures. She just slowly, very slowly, kept flipping through them. She was studying them. She would grimace and begin to cry harder with each passing picture. I didn't say anything or move. I just stood there and looked on as she went through all 24 exposures about 3-5 times. She was in pure shock and disbelief. It hit me that she had no idea that her daughter was obviously very much in love with another girl. She had no idea what was going on at sleepovers and get-togethers. She was none the wiser to what was going on, probably in her very own home, behind closed doors when her daughter's "friend" was over. She seemed to be oblivious to my standing there. Just weeping openly. I kind of began to feel like I should offer up a comforting word or two. Then she kind of suddenly became aware that she was in public...she reached up and brushed her hair with her hand and hurried to dry her eyes. She did a quick scan of her surroundings to see who had witnessed her display of emotion. Her eyes landed on me and she straightened up a bit. I just looked at her with the blank face and asked her if she was alright. She gave me the up and down, took in my appearance. She kind of cut her eyes at me, as if it was my fault. As if I personally turned her daughter on to women. As if I planted the pictures there for her to see. Her face slowly softened up, as if she wanted to ask personal questions about my life...like why are people gay, and if it's the end of her life as she knows it. I wanted to tell her to just relax. There's worse things in life to concern yourself with than what your daughter does in her bedroom. (That's one thing I will always appreciate about my parents...when they found out that I was gay, they said "so?") I wanted to tell her that her perfect little suburban existence isn't shattered by the discovery of the fact that her daughter is dealing with someone else's daughter. She seemed so sad, like everything she'd ever worked for in her life had just been obliterated. Not knowing her or her beliefs and values, it very well could have. I didn't know what to do. I really did want to say those things to her. Wanted to tell her to just go home and give her daughter the pictures and then just sit back and wait for her daughter to come to her. Wanted to tell her to discuss it quietly with her husband, but not to make a scene about it. Wanted to tell her that it's okay. Instead, I gave her a half smile. She returned it, then told me to have a pleasant day, then turned and left the store.
I can only imagine what is happening at their house tonight.
- ▼ March (10)