My second roommate in college was Becky. We lived off campus in the basement of a house on Myrtle Street just north of Colorado State University. We’d met in the violin section in orchestra when we were stand partners my first year at CSU. She was engaged and away every weekend from our apartment to see her fiancé Mark in Denver. They were married in the spring of 1983 and Becky asked me to sing for their wedding.
After the wedding, the normal photographs were being taken. The photographer was a fellow with a thick accent. That normally wouldn’t matter a bit, but it contributes to the character I’m creating for the story. I don’t like stereotypes or assuming anything about a person based on their peculiarities, but in this case, in the end, this fellow met the criteria to have a stereotype based just on him.
The photographer finished with the wedding party and moved on to us with the secondary roles, like ushers and singer. He was quite complimentary and kept telling me how well I photographed. He asked (yeah, I can’t believe this now either) if I’d considered a future in modeling. I should have run right then to Becky and tell her that her photographer was a sleeze bag. But Becky was busy enjoying the fact that she’d just become Mrs. Mark and was elsewhere in the church serving nuts and mints to her guests. Plus, I was naive. (That’s the nice word for it.) He told me there was this contest, that I could have a chance at actually winning. Wow, really? It’s amazing how flattery can manipulate.
So the photographer thought we’d be able to get some better shots outside in the natural lighting. It was a little exciting, because I’d always wanted some of those Glamour Shots all my friends were having done, the ones where you go into the studio, play dress up in their costumes to wear things you’d never own yourself, and have a makeup make over like it was Oscar night. I wanted to do that, so when he offered to take some more shots, more than the usher or organist was getting, I thought Sure! Then he said—get this—and remember to add the thick accent, “How about you come to my studio for better pictures? I have more equipment there.”
Now at this point, you’re yelling in your minds, Run the other way, Cheri! Or maybe some of you are even saying to clobber him in some very effective, debilitating manner and then run. Or like even call the cops! Well, I didn’t have that survival mechanism turned on yet. So I said, “Oh, okay. But first, I need to check with my sister. She’s picking me up and I need to see if she can come later and get me at your studio.”
While the photographer-slash-kidnapper-slash-molester-slash-creep-of-the-year packed up his gear, I watched for my sister, Cyndi. Before long, her slick little silver car pulled into the church driveway and I walked over to her window.
I explained the situation, and the offer, and the opportunity. And she said,
You get in this car RIGHT NOW. Get in here! No way! Get in. Now! And she said it with every muscle in her face and neck flexed, her teeth bared, and eyes wide and not blinking.
Okay, I say. I need to let him know.
So he gives me his card, says call me, and we’ll arrange something. It would be better at his studio.
Okay, so you’d think this would be the end of the story. Yes? No. So we actually had a conversation or two on the phone. (Cyndi must have been elsewhere or smarter brains would have prevailed.) He mailed me some samples of the photos that he got outside at the wedding. (Yes, can you believe it? I gave him my address and phone number!) But for the contest, he needed more shots. We arranged a date, and I was going to go. (Are you hitting your head on the wall right now like I am?) Then finally common sense came into play when I told him I would be there for the photo shoot for the contest but my dad would drive me up and I’d bring my boyfriend too.
Well, then things finally changed. The photographer didn’t think it was going to work out after all to do the photo shoot. I asked, “What about the contest?” He said, in his thick accent remember, “There was no contest.”
Hmm, really? I hung up the phone a little baffled. Go figure.
O! M! G! Really? Seriously?
I can’t help but think I’m dreaming now. That didn’t really happen. That wasn’t me. Was I really so naive? So stupid? So gullible? So desperate?
Lord help that girl!
Well, he did. And I somehow survived into adulthood. By the grace of God!
Sheesh. It’s incredible to remember that story and actually write it down.
Now you know why I absolutely, with every cell of my body, hate that horrible picture. And I bet now you do too.
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