I hooked up with Xavier once on a trip through Texas. I had my picture taken with him, but the roll of film got lost. All you have is my word. He wouldn’t back me up. He probably doesn’t even remember me. Hell, that was a few years ago. So many people come and go, you know.
He was running for some kind of political office. Constable I think. I don’t know what a constable does. I think it has something to do with running around the off roads of a county and delivering warrants and stuff. But there I was, driving on some county road in mid-Texas, waiting for a desert to show up past the rolling hills and Joshua trees.
We had been out there for about an hour, me and my three friends, just cruising along in my little blue car. We thought we were going somewhere, should have already been there, and knew we must be lost. I pulled over on the side of the road and got out of the car. There was quite a breeze blowing- a wind, actually. Lots of sand in the wind, but no desert in sight, still. I asked for the map, unfolded it, and placed it on the hood of the car. It wanted to blow away.
Where we were wasn’t even on the map. But that is really because we didn’t know where we were. Fuck it. Let’s get out the camera and take pictures since we’ve stopped.
Snap. And there he was. In the background. Photographer Kris said, “Hey, turn around, check it out!” I did
Xavier Montalvo. That beautiful name. He probably doesn’t remember me because he was a sign. Maybe he doesn’t even exist as a person. I didn’t say I met him. I hooked up with him. Or the camera hooked us up. Me and his name. On a billboard.
Writing is a beautiful thing, and so is speaking, but physical touch, proof. Whew! What I wouldn’t give for Xavier to know who I am! What I wouldn’t give to hold him in my hands. Me and him, together. Why didn’t we take better care of the film!
Disposable cameras are dumb, whereas Polaroid cameras are not dumb. Polaroids are essentially throwaways just like an entire disposable camera, but, they are instant and non-exhibitionist, and that makes all the difference.
I can take a Polaroid of my shoe, my naked girlfriend, or my dog all without the embarrassment of taking the film out to be processed.
The only pictures that I am comfortable taking to the film counter to be developed at the local supermarketextravaganza are the ones that I take with my non-Poloroid, non-disposable camera. And those pictures are of posed events like weddings, birthdays, and Thanksgiving with the family.
Nonetheless, an extroverted exhibitionist may prefer to do their dirty deeds under the watchful eye of the minimum wage 1 hour photo developer.
A roommate once told me that he felt like such a hypocrite for taking pictures. He was a vegan and didn’t eat meat or use any other animal products. Camera film uses animal bones all crushed up as its base... Damn. So does Jell-o.
I dropped my camera during a trip to Orlando when I was 12. The film door popped open and the roll was exposed. I got really pissed off.
I tore the roll out and put in a new one. The camera was a cheap one, but one that was supposed to advance the film mechanically and automatically nonetheless. I didn’t hear any whirring when I put in the new film. I had broken my camera.
“That’s what you get for not being careful,” said my dad. I was being super careful with that damn camera! I loved that cheap almost-toy.
I put it away in my dad’s then-in-style fanny pack. (Weren’t they in style?)
When we got back home a few days later, I put the camera in a drawer for safe keeping, thinking that one day I would be industrious enough to get around to taking it apart and fixing it. Or at least I could figure out how it worked.
I forgot about it for 5 years.
I got it out, put in some new batteries and pressed the button, and it flashed. I opened and closed the film door. And because that was the trigger for the camera to advance a new roll of film, it clicked and whirred the invisible roll into position to take the first picture. Shit. It worked now. I could have had 5 years of pictures. Oh well.
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