School Picture Day

Some things happen in your morning routine that shakes your confidence. Things happen that make you wonder what kind of shitty day is in store for you. It can be simple things like your favorite workplace restroom being out of toilet paper or the stranger you nod to every morning on your way to work is missing. Did your nodding “friend” get sick, was there a family emergency, or did they change jobs… hopefully they are just on vacation, but you missing this little morning ritual can really set a bad precedent for the day. This morning it was the non-decider at the coffee shop. First she wanted a morning-glory muffin and couldn’t figure out if her friends had gotten her an Earl Grey tea or not. Then it was the consternation of trying to figure out which salad she wanted to purchase for lunch. Finally, she added another muffin… chocolate chip this time. For the love of all things holy!!!! Make a decision prior to getting to the register. I wasn’t pissed… I quit getting pissed at clueless people ages ago, but I am befuddled by people who wait until they get to the register to figure out what they want to buy… coffee shop lines are long in the morning and full of caffeine addicts… we don’t need Ms. Which Muffin Should I Get? keeping us from our fix.

Fortunately, today is school picture day… no way can it be a bad day when you get to have your picture taken that shows that you belong to something. I’m not really in school, but today is the day that my employer has blocked a period of time for me and my coworkers to head to the basement and get our ID badge pictures taken. Matt suggested wearing a plastic parrot (Doctor Peepers) on my shoulder… like who would question a man with a parrot on his shoulder. This was the last one I had taken about 5 years ago:

This is pre-running days, or better yet… the period of time when I was between running a lot in the Army and running a lot as a civilian. I am 20 lbs lighter now and I have a lot less hair. It truly amazes me on how quickly the hair disappears. For the record, I still have that smart ass smile… smart assness doesn’t disappear and my smart ass smile wrinkles have grown. This picture says I know some stupid shit that is rolling around in my head and cracking me up… this is the type of thinking that gets me through the day. Today’s picture shows a thinner 41 year-old man in a white golf shirt who is significantly more bald and whose glasses are significantly more hipster… but the shit-eating grin is still there.1

ID badge pictures are the staple of a lot of employers today, especially if your employer also uses metal detectors and x-ray machines at the entrances. Every day for me is a trip through the airport security line.2 Instead of TSA “Don’t touch my junk!” agents, I have the pleasure of having police officers scowl at me and eyeing my Skoal can (in my bag).3 Having an ID badge says I am employed and represents my worth in the economic world of work… I have an official badge that says you can trust me… I’m from Washington, DC, and I am here to help.

“Picture Day” is how we were all officially reminded of today’s importance. This oft-repeated line has been a staple of our whole lives… we came home from school with flyers announcing the upcoming picture day event. I’m not in school anymore, but my boss, in true 3rd grade teacher fashion, ensured we were all appropriately informed of today’s importance by email. Fortunately, I don’t have to attempt to slick down the cow lick that used to grace my head.

That cow lick, that half an inch thick group of hair right at the front of my head would shoot straight up. From kindergarten until the 8th grade, that crazy gravity defying group of hair was a staple of my school picture. The last time I had a school picture that was glorified with this cow lick was the 7th grade… that picture was so horrible that I, at the age of 13, knew that there should be no record of it. Somewhere there is a box with all my year books, and in that box is my Frankfurt American Junior High year book… and in the 7th grade section (on the page with the “R’s”) is a complete inked out picture me… I hated that picture. Unfortunately, there is probably around 3000 other copies of this year book sitting in boxes in the homes of my former classmates that reveal the horrible Sublimemonkey cow lick that personifies my 7th grade goofiness. Today, where that cow lick was, is a complete bald patch… there is no identifiable mark where this cow lick once sprouted. In its place is baby bottom smooth patch of head.

After seeing that horrible 7th grade picture, I graduated into my “butt cut” era. You know what the butt cut is… it was that standard hair style for 1980s boys and future lesbians. It was the perfectly parted hair that started at the forehead and went backwards to just past the crown of the head. It looked like a crack of hair, thus the “butt cut” moniker. Some of the boys attempted to feather the bangs back… this only looked good on the true metal heads. The girls… the straight girls… didn’t have butt cuts, instead they rocked the Farrah Fawcett look that included a magnificent feathering of bangs that started at the front and swept back in gorgeous angel wings.4 No would dare say Elizabeth E. had a butt cut.5

My horrible 7th grade picture wasn’t my first nor last bad school picture day event. Once I got into my butt cut era, I started rocking this ass crack look with the addition of a slight mullet. This mullet never got long, my Dad was a retired Army sergeant and no son of his was going to have girlie hair. My butt cut mullet look made for some horrible school pictures. Fortunately, I moved from the mulleted butt cut to the bitchin’ flow6 my senior year of high school. Prior to the butt cut era, I just rocked the standard little boy bowl cut with a cow lick. But I was never one to rock school pictures at any age. Not only was my hair cow licked, but my fashion sense was lacking.

I distinctly remembering wearing the same shirt for both the 3rd and 4th grade school pictures. It was a tan flannel shirt with awesome pearl snap buttons. My parents love me, and they loved me then regardless of my horrible cow lick and the inability to take a decent school picture. My parents bought the standard 8×10 school picture. They framed these pictures and hung them on the wall… my parents still have one of my sister’s high school pictures hanging on their wall. Her thick and long red hair is feathered, her giant 1970s glasses have her initials (in gold) in the corner of the left lense, and her eye shadow is fantastically green… red-headed girls can rock green. In our childhood, our parents religiously placed these school pictures on the wall of the different Army quarters we lived in. The reason this is an important fact is because I know my parents placed my 3rd grade picture on the wall… so how in the Hell did they let me walk out the door in last year’s shirt for my 4th grade school picture? My parents now have two school pictures of me wearing the same shirt and you can’t tell which year is which.7 I may have worked the grunge look… but unfortunately I worked it two years straight. Obviously I didn’t grow in that year if I was able to wear the shirt two years running. I have always been small of stature… and these 3rd and 4th grade pictures prove it.

I got to take a school picture last year. I spent the year at the National War College and you take a school picture when attending NWC. Most of the students were O-5s (lieutenant colonels) and O-6s (colonels) military officers, so they had to wear their uniforms. Civilians like myself were in suits and ties (typical school day uniform for us). No one told us civilians what our suit or tie had to look like… basically no one gave a shit, which is a bad mistake when dealing with me… if I know you don’t give a shit… then I am going to do what I want. Here is my last school picture:















This is a damn good picture, and I fantasize that there is a giant group of hairs standing up in a cow lick under that ball cap. Please also note the smart ass grin… somethings never change with age. This is the best school picture I have ever taken and it took me 36 years to perfect it… the shit eating grin was something I was born with.

1. Today’s picture is not available for download yet… but I’m looking forward to writing another blog in the future that shows today’s smart ass grin.

2. No, I don’t work at an airport.

3. Fortunately, a number of the police officers are dippers… these guys know immediately what it is they see in the x-ray machine.

4. Even at 41, I am made weak in the knees by women with feathered hair.

5. EE was my 7th grade homecoming dance “date”… I don’t think we danced and definitely know we never kissed. But her feathered blonde hair was made of the purest silk, smelled of the purest honey, and glistened in a golden hue that made me desire a pillow made of it. I can imagine running my fingers through this gossamer gold as I light sniffed its purity.

6. The bitchin’ flow was the one-sided long bangs that hung over one of your eyes. The owner of a bitchin’ flow also developed a head jerk that would physically remove the bangs from your eyes for a brief moment. The bitchin’ flow was the staple of skaters and surfers… I was neither but I still rocked the bitchin’ flow. This wonderful hair disappeared when I joined the Army in 1990 and then started falling out. My shampoo and hair cut costs have dropped dramatically over the years. 

7. Even though they hung the pictures, my parents have never been one to date pictures, so you can’t look on the back and figure out when the picture was taken.


2 thoughts on “School Picture Day”

  1. I love the mental picture of you running around the country like some deranged Indiana Jones searching for lost yearbooks carrying a sharpie instead of a whip.

  2. I laugh as I read this knowing in my foyer hang the 3rd and 4th grade pictures of my only son…wearing the same exact shirt…

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