Welcome back to Part 2 of my Nightmare On 4th Street, Downtown Columbus (boy, I truly made some folks mad, leaving you all in suspense – for those of you joining us, if you missed the first part, you definitely need to click here to read Part 1: “Hell Hath No Fuji”).
Before I begin, let me make this perfectly clear: The story I’m telling is in no way the result of the planning or actions of my client, his family or the party attendees. It is, as I mentioned in Part 1, a “comedy of errors” that I now see as “the perfect storm”. If anything, I’m so thankful that my client was entirely understanding, given the circumstances.
Ok, so where were we? Oh yeah.
- Gas light came on.
- Lost time at the parking meter.
- 1 1/2 trips to enter, after forgetting my mask.
- Back went out.
- Wrong diffuser.
- Pictures under- and over-developed
Did I miss anything? Ok, back to our regularly scheduled blog, already in progress…
[…it wasn’t long before prayer was offered up and everyone bowed their heads. I quickly darted behind the DJ to get one shot of the person praying and then I heard the sound… KSSSSHHHHHHHWHOOMP…]
I inadvertently knocked over one of the lighted trees, causing it to slide noisily along the wall, scraping the surface on the way down.
Several people looked up through one eye as I scampered to restore it to its original position. So much for the shot. I took two steps and noticed a sensation of freedom that I didn’t have before. Somehow, either during or after the fall, maybe even before, the prong on my belt buckle broke. C’mon, Lord. You delivered the Israelites but refused Moses’ entry to the promised land for his sin at the Waters of Merbah, but that was ONE form of punishment! Why am I getting this continuous shower of misfortune? I slipped off to the men’s room and removed my belt, returning to place it in my accessories bag.
Dear Pants Fastener: It’s just you, me and the zipper now. Please, PLEASE don’t let me down. No pun intended.
By the time the buffet was announced for the tables, I was pretty much done. “You alright, KD?” a familiar voice asked. It was my client.
“No, I’m not alright. I want to lie to you, but you need to know this day is not going well for me, at all!”
“Can I get you something?”
“Alcohol. Hard liquor.”
He gave a smile of acknowledgement, knowing I don’t drink. He placed his hand on my shoulder, looked me firmly in the eye and said, “It’s going to be alright, KD. “I know you’ll do a great job.”
“Dude, I’m having some serious technical and emotional issues here. I swear I just want to go home, soak and SULK!”
“Man, you know you never let anything get to you. You got this. I know this. Just do your best and I got’choo. You’re family and I love you. Don’t worry about a thing. It’ll be alright…”
He walked off as I slowly shook my head and softly whimpered, “I wanna go home. Please…”
I stepped to the right and Dash, the super-speeding toddler zipped by me. Please don’t let him be a problem. (In a book or movie, that’s what’s known as foreshadowing, kiddies.)
I walked back to the chair in the back, along the wall, where my son sat patiently, waiting for my next instruction. I told him that I just needed to catch my breath. In all the madness, I hadn’t realized that it’d been some time since I had engaged in so much aggressive moving about. And I had to do this for 3 1/2 hours??? Note to self: Tae Bo, Insanity Workout, Eurocycle, Treadmill. Do SOMETHING to keep in good condition from now on.
I thought about the video full of well-wishes and decided I’d work the tables and get people to send their love on camera while waiting for their respective tables to report to the buffet. The surprise had already gone awry when, in a phone conversation with the bride’s mother during planning, she told me that I was “on speakerphone” AFTER I told her about my intention to surprise the bride and groom with a slideshow DVD with video greetings included. She told me the bride-to-be was within earshot and smiling. And here I thought my troubles ended there. Go figure.
I went to the first table, apologized for interrupting and asked if I could go around the table, recording their messages of blessings and love. I knew it would be difficult with the music pumping through the speakers as loud as it was, but I had to try. Sure enough, everyone spoke with their “inside voices”. Momma ain’t here. SPEAK UP, y’all! As I slowly panned around the circle, I noticed that the low lighting did nothing for their faces. No problem. I could switch to auto mode like I do when I record my son’s podcast for consistency in video recording. I asked if they were willing to do it again, which they were…
NOTHING. NO CHANGE WHATSOEVER! NOOOOOOOO!!!
There’s this running joke that black people never throw their cell phones against the wall in movies out of anger because we can’t afford to by a new one. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t have a backup camera in my bag. Then again, if I had a backup camera (or 2) like ALL photographers carry, I probably wouldn’t have been in this mess. But then, if business had been stable during the pandemic, I would already have BOUGHT the second camera by now!!
To hell with auto. Time to switch Kenny into “Problem-Solving mode”.
I grabbed my smartphone and turned on the flashlight app. I love that feature because it stays on until you shut it off. I can record in one hand and light my subject with the other. I asked the people if I could try one more time, using the light. We started recording and although I had the camera facing them, each person looked at the PHONE in my opposite hand! Just, never mind. Keep going, Kenny.
At Table 2, I had to do the first guy three times over because he kept messing up. I needed htat laugh.
At Table 3, I asked the same thing and told them to look INTO THE CAMERA because the phone was only for lighting them. And, ACTION!
The flashlight turned off after about 10 seconds.
I looked at the phone’s battery life. 80% TAKE 2 …annnnnd, ACTION! Same thing. Take 3… Not once in the 2 or 3 years that I’ve owned this phone has this ever happened. I excused myself and walked back to my chair to check the settings. There was nothing in the settings that allowed for me TO change the length of “on” time. It was simply ON or OFF.
I got up, turned to say something to my son, then turned back around…
…AND TRIPPED, EVADING DASH, THE SPEEDSTER! (See how foreshadowing works?)
Don’t worry, he was fine. I wasn’t.
My son helped me back into the chair, where I sat for a good 10 minutes, trying not to scream because of my already spasming back (remember the parking and loading incident?). I asked to use his phone, only to learn that his phone battery was just about dead. Don’t yell at him Kenny, he’s not the reason you’re frustrated. I said nothing. Wincing in pain, I looked at the back of the camera to figure out why it had gone AWOL on me. As I was looking at the display, the lens was trained on my stomach area, where I could see skin through the viewfinder. I moved the phone and looked down at my shirt.
Two buttons had popped off of my dress shirt.
I gave a nonchalant smirk as I got up and dragged back over to the table to record. I worked my way around each table, then walked back to the bar to get some lemonade. I went to check my phone, but it wasn’t in my pocket. I walked back to each table and it wasn’t at any of them either. I double-checked the table where the flashlight first went bad. Nothing. I walked back to each table and crouched underneath. No phone. I walked back to my son. It wasn’t there, nor in the bags, nor in the seat, nor in the windowsill above, nor anywhere near. I looked over to the bartender who was motioning with her forefinger, beckoningly. I walked over as she asked if ‘these were mine’. I looked down and it was my keys. Wait. What? Never mind. Add “discombobulation” to the “Word for the Day” for the little kiddies.
I sat back down, trying not to think about my pants fastener, for fear of subconsciously telekinetically causing that to pop along with the blood vessel in my right eye. It was already enough that I was constantly tugging upwards at the waist to keep them at a decent height on my person.
“You good, KD?” my client asked as he walked up and put his hand on my shoulder. Seconnnnnd verse, same aaaaas the first!
“I’m just trying to survive the night,” I said. I laughed to myself, realizing I had just quoted one of my favorite lines from the movie “Demon Knight”. Lord knows, I was playing that movie out in real life, minus the demons. But then again, maybe… Bah, let’s move on.
Before I knew it, it was time for the traditional cutting of the wedding cake. I walked over to an inconspicuous spot by the DJ, apologizing to the lighted tree, who didn’t want me anywhere near it. And there I stood, against the wall, snapping pictures until such time as I felt it safe to run up in the audience’s field of vision to get in a few close-ups. Who cared if I was blocking anyone’s camera phones. They had plenty of time to take pictures by this point. See, that was the devil talking.
I walked back to my seat, wondering why my camera felt funny and sticky. I sat down and looked at it, knowing I didn’t want to, but needed to.
The Thumb Support had broken off of my camera, leaving behind some old adhesive residue.
I didn’t know when. I didn’t know where. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know why.
I just wanted to go home.
The DJ made a special toast to the bride and groom, then to his old friend, my client. The speech slowly faded because I was walking away to the bathroom to change into my other shirt.
When I returned, the phone was sitting on my chair. I asked my son if he found it and he answered that he didn’t. I asked who put it there.
He didn’t know who. He didn’t know why. He didn’t know when. He didn’t know how.
He just wanted to go home as well.
Poor kid. He only needed to move the lights per my direction all night.
“I got good news and bad news,” I told him.
“What’s that?” he asked nervously.
“The good news is, we only have an hour left.”
“What’s the BAD news?”
“We still have an hour left…”
He laughed as I got up and walked back to the dance floor, but not before placing my foot on my missing camera piece.
I finished the night, shooting everything and everyone dancing in sight until the DJ told everyone it was time to clear the place out. That’s when I realized that there had been no removing of the garter or tossing of the bouquet.
Shut up, Kenny. With your luck, you’ll end up walking towards the bride, tripping and falling on her while she’s seated. Just finish bleeding out and die.
As the guests left, some of them thanked me for a job well done. If they only knew. My son and I quickly (well HE moved quickly) dissembled and packed our gear as my ever-smiling host walked up and asked if he could help me take our things to the car. I respectfully and gratefully declined. He offered to get me a cart. I told him that by the time he returned with one, I’d be laying on the floor of the elevator, headed to the main level.
We trudged our way out of the building, saying goodbye to the partygoers along the way and at the exit and walked for what seemed like an eternity. All I thought about was the time it would take to salvage what shots I could to make sure he had the best of the best shots.
Once we got to the car, we slowly loaded the equipment and then plopped down in the seats which caused this puff of air to escape from my pants, filling the vehicle with yes, HOT BUTT.
And that’s when the cramps hit me, HARD, all over my body. As I wiped the salt deposits off my forehead, he scrambled to give me bottle after bottle of water. I sat and waited for the cramps to subside as I asked him to do one last check by the van, in case we’d dropped anything.
“Can I borrow your flashlight?” he asked.
Instinctively, I flipped on the phone’s flashlight and handed it to him. He slowly checked around the car, taking about 2 minutes to check thoroughly and a little way along the path we had walked. He reentered and took a seat, handing me back my phone…
…who’s flashlight had been on the entire time, uninterrupted.
“Figures,” I mumbled as I finished my bottle. “you know we took the ‘L’ in the ‘win/loss column’ tonight. Well, I did.”
“You know we still have to get GAS,” he reminded.
I sighed and checked my phone app for local gas stations, knowing there weren’t any downtown. The two closest showed that they were closed. The third location was near White Castle Hamburgers, which was fine by me. I turned the key in the ignition as the music from my Earth, Wind & Fire mix CD greeted me. It’s a good thing it wasn’t on radio because knowing my night, “Bad Luck”, “C’es La Vie” or “That’s Just The Way It Is” would have played.
“Let’s just drive and see what happens,” I said as we pulled out of the parking space.
He laughed as I looked at him sympathetically, knowing that if we ran out of gas, “I” wasn’t going to be the one walking to the gas station…
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