So what if I’m a man? I want pregnancy pictures
I haven’t done much for nine months, but when my babe and I enter Alice’s studio, it became clear that I too want to be photographed in pregnancy. I needed evidence that my babe was not a single mom. Is this too much to ask?
“Do you mind moving your big head out of the frame?” Alice the photographer rebukes me for the third time. We started the pregnancy photo shoot just 15 minutes ago and she’s growing more impatient with me by the minute, and becoming more supportive of single moms and the elimination of the male gender. Or is it just against me, as I always stick myself, unexpectedly for her, inside the frame. Or maybe because I call her Photog? It seems I’m ruffling the feathers of her nest, so peaceful and incensual and tranquil when we entered.
Today my role is to play a garment holder and a hanging post. I’m supposed to hold my babe’s clothes and gowns while Alice renders Babe’s big beautiful belly in pixels. All this while I’m ignored, except for one earlier shot dedicated to me, which was quickly clicked. She pixeled my belly touching my babe’s, and another photo with the dog, who kept passing wind and reminding me to tend to his irritable bladder.
I’m really in favor of pregnancy photos. It’s cool to have a souvenir from the days of our youth and over sleeping. It’s not that we had not taken pictures before ─ we are obsessed with selfies, at work, in events, even in the line at the social security office. It seems that instead of visiting a doctor at the office, we will soon be sending him a small selfie of a rash and get the ointment by mail. In my childhood, having my picture taken was an event, reserved for birthdays and holidays, when most of the time I was crying because my icicle dropped to the floor. But today we shoot the kids before they are even born. A one-year old has an album that starts at his mom’s pregnancy stick test, through his ultrasound tests and fetal 3D imaging.
But we are here at this incensed professional studio, and I try to get some of my presence into the pictures. My presence is a pretty grown up man, six foot six, getting into the frame, smiling behind his wife a moment before the photographer hits the flash. Alice gets angry, and I play cool. “You’re shooting now? Sorry,” but I have another picture for eternity.
…it doesn’t make sense that I’m totally useless. Maybe psychological support counts? Feet rubs? True, I’m not a certified masseuse and I kept asking when to stop. Is massaging not considered a fair effort?
I do deserve a pregnancy picture in sepia, do I not? Have I not contributed enough to this pregnancy? “One big smile,” Alice instructs Babe, and not a second too soon, I leap into the frame like a grasshopper, serving a glass of water to my wife, while treating the lens a la Leonardo DiCaprio on Oscars night. Alice is red hot with anger, now looking like an overripe tomato, while Babe sips water and I’m happy like a dog who’s just left his mark on the wall.
Of course, I can stop all this and sulk. C’mon guys, I’m here too. Please shoot me! But the attention should be paid to my babe, not to me. Even though in the past months I’ve been the one who schleps the groceries and recycles the bottles, with all due respect it isn’t really equivalent to the effort of pregnancy. What did I do then that was equivalent? Maybe chasing doctors for tests and medicines? Not really. Most of the time, when I escort my babe to the docs, I doze off on the couch and wake up only with an elbow to the ribs. I was also sent to get a Belgian wafer and kebab one night, but it was really a home delivery and the kebab was for me.
So what have I done for nine months? There must have been something useful that I’ve done because it doesn’t make sense that I’m totally useless. Maybe psychological support counts? Feet rubs? True, I’m not a certified masseuse and I kept asking when to stop. Is massaging not considered a fair effort?
Could it be that I haven’t done anything important for the past nine months? That I’ve been an uninvolved observer? Am I egocentric? No. No way. I’m a good guy. Here, now, for a few minutes I’ve been holding a long white waving robe, like a sail, and keeping my mouth shut, while Babe plays Kate Winslet in Titanic. This alone should credit me with three stills and a minute’s video.
We’re nearing the end of the shoot. It’s probably much too late to take Babe to the side and whisper something to her; I might make myself look stupid by telling her that I also want to be shot… But why not, really? Do the thick-minded have no say? In the end, we’ll have only her pictures and people will think she’s a single mom. And what will I have? A picture and a record of my big belly? To show how much weight I gained in this pregnancy? Where am I, in Weight Watchers registration day?
I decide to act: I’ll go talk to Alice, even though I know she hates me at the moment and wishes that I collapse under a lighting rig. I catch her making coffee in the kitchenette, approach her and whisper in her ear: “I don’t really want to cause trouble, but,” I coughed, “can you please treat me to some pictures? You know, she’s not a single mom…” Alice freezes like a German shepherd who heard a dog whistle, turns to me, and I immediately stand at attention, saying, “Sorry, please forgive me.” She gazes at me, takes a deep breath and says icily: “One picture. I give you one picture… one! And you stand still like a scarecrow! Is this clear?” I promise, she turns to go, but again I cannot help but tap her on her shoulder. “You know, can you later on, in Photoshop, make me somewhat thinner? Not much… just twenty, maybe fifty pounds… no biggy.” Alice rolls her eyes in wonder and I use the momentum to add, “And while you’re at it, let’s fix those muscles. I work on these triceps, but just a touch wouldn’t hurt. Would it? Are you with me? Alice looks at me normally, and I feel that our relationship has thawed, and I go on to shake her hand to seal the deal. She reciprocates with a boiling hot coffee, which she probably lost appetite for. I wouldn’t be surprised if she strangles me by the end of the evening.
Two weeks later, Babe comes from the post office with a sealed parcel, which she would open only with me. When we see the pictures, we become excited. There are pictures there that we’d probably hang around the house for decades to come. The last picture in the pile is inside its own envelope, with a dedication: “To Avi, here’s your pregnancy photo. Came out great, and there’s no need to Photoshop! Alice.”
Something, somewhere in that picture tells me she’s still upset with me.