A Little Boy, On Camera, Playing Roles

Dear Michael,

There you are again in a photo. You’re at my typewriter, my Smith-Corona Selectric, unsheathed from its plastic cover. It’s the typewriter my parents gave me as a present for high school graduation.

You’re seated at my white Formica desk, in Apartment 6U in Building One, with your left hand on the keyboard and your right hand pointed toward the camera, palm down, fingers straight out, as if to mime the act of typing.

Look at me, you might be saying here. I’m a writer, too, just like Daddy.

The photo is a foretelling. You’re smiling here, pretty proud of yourself there at the desk. Had you already known yourself to be a writer, even then, or maybe suspected as much?

It’s one of those it-was-meant-to-be kind of photos. Your first moments at the keyboard. You’re all of two-and-a-half years old, your cheeks still round, your biceps soft.

In retrospect, it seems, an early indication of intent. But who knows? Maybe you were just a kid playing grownup.

Now we see you in a photo on the phone – or, rather, holding a phone to your face, probably no one on the line. Again, you’re playing grownup, making like you’re carrying on a big-person conversation. You’re wearing a white shirt — it’s riding up high enough on your shoulders to expose your belly – and sneakers with white socks.

But look now at how you’re sitting. You’re reclining, almost lying down, a grin on your face, the phone in your right hand held just under your chin, but for some reason that defies logic, your bare legs are thrust in the air, bent at the knee, your left hand tucked under your sneaker.

Again, maybe this position represented your early concept of how people talked on the phone: legs up in the air. It flouts propriety bigtime. Ah, well, you’re only about three here, and obviously tickled to be on camera pulling this little stunt.

Look at me! I’m on the phone! With my legs up in the air!

P.S. — Part 2 will appear tomorrow.


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