The True Story Behind That Profile Picture

The True Story Behind That Profile Picture

I was one step away from finishing my first online dating profile when I was stopped dead in my tracks. I needed to find a photograph that captured the essence of the comfortable-wearing-a-Tuxedo-as-blue-jeans-ballroom-dancing-skinny-dip-loving-cuddle-crazy-macho-poet Frankenstein that I created in my bio. No photograph that I had could compete with that.

When I put up my first dating profile, I was in my forties and asking another person to take my photograph for the website was not something I wanted to do. Not that there is anything wrong with dating profiles, but I would have rather gone into stealth mode and not told anyone until I had several dates under my belt. Fortunately for me (maybe not so much for him), I had a friend that had recently faced the same dating profile picture dilemma. He told me he had a camera and a place to take pictures (suddenly my life felt like a very-special episode of Diff’rent Strokes).

To start with, I am not a fashion person. I truly believe they should make Garanimals for adults so that I would know which shirt to wear with what pants. It was quite a challenge to pick out shirts that did not make me look bald, fat, and desperate (that is a lot to ask from a shirt). I finally selected a half-dozen or so that I felt had the best shot of making me look not-half-bad and headed off to the “photo-shoot.”

Once at my friend’s apartment we discussed the logistics as to where we should take this photograph. He suggested outside, but I did not feel comfortable with that. I couldn’t help but think what his neighbors thought when they saw this six-foot-two-tall man enter the apartment with a change of wardrobe; I wasn’t about to put on a fashion show for them as well. We agreed upon a relatively neutral corner of his apartment, far from any rogue reflective surfaces (we’ve all seen the naked man in the teapot).

I don’t photograph well because I don’t know how to smile on cue (yeah, that’s the reason). I thought if we could make it look like a candid shot maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. My head turned back as if someone just tapped me on the shoulder or that surprised expression when I suddenly realized there’s a man in the corner with a camera taking my picture (what are you doing here?).

That was my Saturday — I changed shirts and positions while I looked thoughtfully-casually-surprised. After we worked for an hour, to get a spontaneous photograph we finally agreed upon the least-worst picture to put up on the site. It was a shot of me from the waist up, left hand in pocket and right hand partially raised as if I were about to ask the viewer for spare change.

The funny thing was that in the end it was all for nothing. Fate, having watched my sad attempt at self-portrait, stepped in and took care of everything.

A few weeks later, at a family function, while I stood out on the lawn my sister called over to me. I turned around (what are you doing here?) and she snapped what turned out to be the best picture of me — ever. It was so good that people didn’t even recognize me. I was smiling. I was tan and fit (not sure how that happened), with one shoulder jauntily dipped lower than the other.

I must have reminded my sister ten times that night to email me that picture; I wanted it for my profile. It went up the next day and has been reused on every social media site that I have ever been a member. If I could go back in time and put it in my high school yearbook, I would.

That picture lived up to the bio I created much better than the awkward poses in my friend’s apartment.

Fate is a wonderful photographer — I should ask it to do my wedding.

(who is this guy?)

Cover Photo by Michael Henry on Unsplash

Something In the Way They Move

Something In the Way They Move

Blood Pressure, My Doctors, and Me

Blood Pressure, My Doctors, and Me