Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.
Parents need to gather blackmail material on their kids as soon as possible.
Thankfully, with the proliferation of digital cameras and affordable hand-held video recorders, trigger happy Moms and Dads can build up a stockpile of humiliating material before their precious little bundles of holy havoc are old enough to stop posing long enough to snap an incriminating picture.
Take Jellybean for example. Oh in the years to come her silly antics are gonna get more play than the Zapruter film (watch as she chugs the bath water … back and to the left … back and to the left). The catalogue will be so immense that it’ll be impossible to choose which one to use to induce giggles from potential boyfriends who cannot be otherwise intimidated.
Right now, it’s “Crayon Cramming” that’s taking the blue ribbon in my mind. Jellybean is standing at the coffee table in her pink ballerina pajamas with not one, but two Crayola Crayons – orange and mauve, I believe – protruding point-first out of each nostril.
But it’s the look of sheer joy and pride that makes this one special. It’s also why I hid the Wal-Mart prints. Because soon as Jellybean reaches the Age of Entitlement, when she’s too cool to have her picture taken with anything less than a scowl, I’ll need this ammunition to pull her down a peg or two.
“See, how creative you used to be,” I’ll remind her after she’s rolled her eyes and refused to smile just before rushing off all dressed up to her first dance. “So, smile like you mean it or every boy in your Facebook Friends list is gonna get a copy.”
It’ll work too. I speak from experience.
Back when nugget rings were cool and Tiffany was still singin’ in malls, I would occasionally take girlfriends to meet Dandy Don (my Dad). Because he lived a few hours away, it was obvious that this was a pretty serious relationship … having lasted at least past third period geometry.
But sometime after dinner, while sitting around the living room, Dandy Don would sneak out, leaving my Granny to continue the potential matrimonial interrogation.
Then, out of nowhere, he’d hop out with picture in hand and drop into the lap of my paramour-of-the-moment.
“What’cha think about that?” he’d say grinning like a schoolboy who’d just dropped a red wiggler down some unsuspecting girl’s shirt. “Wasn’t he just the cutest kid?”
And there I’d be in all my 5-year-old nekked glory – little bitty gut hanging out, blonde hair blowing in the warm breeze – peeing in the creek like a big boy.
This was not the kind of impression I wanted to make. She’d only just circled “YES” on the Do You Like Me note and now she’d already seen my privates via Polaroid. This relationship was doomed to fail, which was never Dandy Don’s goal.
He just wanted to remind me that in his mind, I’d always be that little boy no matter how grown-up I acted. And someday, I’ll do the same to Jellybean.
Only what she’ll call humiliation, I’ll call fond memories and blackmail.