My girls were watching a video from a family get-together that we had at our house last summer and laughing hysterically.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, as I walked into the living room.
Both girls stopped laughing and acted as if they hadn’t heard my question.
“What’s so funny?”
There was still no response, so I turned my attention to the video. The camera that was recording the video had obviously been set on a table or chair and left to record the goings-on, the center of which was a volleyball game that had gone on for most of the day.
As I stood and watched for a few minutes, it became obvious that the girls had been laughing at one of the players in the volleyball game. His lack of coordination and overdramatic reactions to his pathetic attempts at diving for the ball made him a comical center of attention. Other players on the volleyball court chuckled behind his back on the video.
“Who’s the bald idiot?” I asked, still laughing at the poor player’s lack of skill.
Both girls looked at each other for a silent moment.
“Ummm, that’s you, Dad,” my daughter Hannah finally answered.
“Ha-ha, very funny,” I replied, but neither girl was laughing.
I narrowed my gaze at the video playing on the television. I recognized the Star Trek T-shirt that the “bald idiot” was wearing as my own.
“Hey, why is that guy wearing one of my…”
My face suddenly got hot with embarrassment, as I realized that the spectacle, the train wreck, the elephant on the court…was me.
I stood in shock. I knew my hairline had receded a bit, and the back of my head was getting a little thin, but I had no idea it had become bare; bare like the grassless spot on my lawn that commemorates the great hornet/gasoline battle of ’04.
My posture was slouched like a man who had been beaten down by years of climbing trees for a living and accented by a potbelly that was much larger than the one I see when I look down.
My playing skills were terrible…terrible to the point of being amazingly terrible. I had never been a volleyball wizard, but I could, at the very least, hold my own in a game when I was younger. But time after time, I watched myself on the video hit the ball out of bounds, into the net, off my face, or miss it altogether. Worse yet, with each failed bump, set, or spike, I would fall to the ground in an overly dramatic fashion that would best any cowboy movie showdown death. Then I would lie there, flailing like a turtle stuck on its back, until someone finally came over and gave me a hand getting up, followed by two or three minutes of “walking off” my injuries, while I made loud “walking off” my injuries noises.
The video was much too painful to watch. I could still hear myself encouraging other players to “COME ON, GET IN THE GAME!” And my exaggerated grunts and bemoanings coming from the TV as I walked out of the living room. The girls resumed their laughing at me when they thought I was out of earshot.
The video had been a rude awakening to my current state of degradation and lack of coordination. Ever since watching it, I have begun to see myself in an unflattering new light.
More recently, a video of myself dancing at a wedding reception enlightened me to my dreadful loss of rhythm and fashion sense. Mothers in the video are seen rushing to shield their children from my thrashing, dancing appendages. A young couple sitting a table near the dance floor are pointing and laughing at my twenty-year-old dress shoes that I occasionally revitalize with a fresh coat of black magic marker.
My dancing very closely resembled someone who was making fun of someone dancing…in his grandpa’s shoes. Once again, I was mortified to my core.
I now avoid being in a video at all costs. And in the event I end up getting caught on camera, I steadfastly refuse to watch the footage. The volleyball and wedding reception incidents have damaged my self-esteem so horribly that I don’t think I would survive another video episode.