There's a picture taken a half century ago that I still have to this day. It was taken on roll film in a Kodak Brownie camera in a square format. It's a 3" X 3" B&W photo. I actually have hundreds of photos that fit that general description, but the one I'm talking about is of a group of kids in the summer between their Kindergarten and first grade school years. There are about ten kids, eight seated and two standing, at a long table in a church basement. The kids are at Vacation Bible School on a summer morning in 1958. My mother took the picture of the group. We're giving thanks before our mid-morning snack of crackers and milk. Everyone who sees the picture smiles. The boys are all in striped knit shirts and elastic-waist shorts or dress pants and short-sleeved dress shirts. Every boy is wearing Buster Brown shoes or something similar. The girls are all in print summer dresses. They have curled hair, ankle high white socks, and patent leather shoes. In an age where people wear cargo shorts and flip-flops to Sunday services it's quaint and fun to see how little kids were dressed up to go to a summertime Bible School class.
The boy standing up in the picture, hands folded in prayer in front of him, is me. The girl standing up with her eyes closed, hands folded, and head bowed is wearing a summer dress that's shaped like a bell. I am the only one in the picture who has his head up and eyes open and I am looking directly at that little girl. Now people laugh because it looks like I'm scoping her out. Even my mother always thought the picture was cute because I was a "mischievous scamp." Of course she was also careful to tell me I should have had my head bowed and my eyes closed. Over the years some girlfriends have seen the picture and they always laugh because they think I'm just "so cute" and obviously looking at the prettiest girl in the room. I never tell anybody the truth. First I was about 5 years old and had no more interest in girls than I had in quantum mechanics. More importantly, they had just put the Ritz crackers out and that girl took the two from my plate and put them on hers just before they told us to bow our heads and give thanks. The picture was snapped as I was waiting for the prayer to end so I could go down and grab my cracker rations back from the thief who took them from me in the basement of our church. I wasn't "checking her out", I was waiting to get my crackers back, and I feared God enough to wait until the prayer was over. Every picture may tell a story, but what it tells you might not be the truth.
As I walked down the hallway back to my dorm room where Diana waited I didn't think of that picture. But looking back I know this much, if Diana saw that picture right then she would have said, "Look at you, Wil! Checking out the hot blond!" And if Jackie had seen it, knowing what had transpired over the past 24 hours, she would have said, "You were a lousy bastard even then!" And she wouldn't have punched me like she usually did, because she only did that when she liked me. They both would have been wrong. But how would that simple fact matter? As I opened the door I saw Diana in bed, covers pulled up just far enough to cover her breasts about half way. I knew she had been out of bed because she had put my Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers album on. She looked so good, and I felt like such a shit. A big, stinking pile of shit.