This is my Christmas card photo, me and the nut-jobs. Okay, I’m late. Christmas is way over, but given that the photo turned out quite well, I wanted to share an unrelated story with you. By the way, this is only the second Christmas card photo I’ve ever had taken. Last year’s was a lucky one-shot deal taken by a girlfriend the day I got Fergie. Hey, another tradition might be going on here.This particular photo was taken by a guy I met hiking the hill not too long ago. On this day, he happened to be returning from a hike when I impetuously asked him to take a picture of us at the end of Canyon Acres. Luckily, I had on red gloves to make it Christmasy.
Jake’s on the right; he just turned eight. That’s one serious, stalwart, loving and passionate boy. Oh, and smarter than most people I know. No. Seriously. And then there’s Fergie, just over a year old, now, with moves that would shame the heroine in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon–the way the character runs up the side of the temple then flips over to face her enemy in a dazzling display of magic and acrobatic agility.That’s the Ferg when she plays with Jake on my couch, somersaulting off the sides and running across his back to get away before landing in front of him. Poor Jake. I’ve tried to catch these moves on camera, to no avail; all that dazzling speed, plus it usually happens when I’m in the middle of yoga. The minute I leave to get the camera they’re behind me, velcroed to my ankles.
As you can see from the photo, Fergie can also be a model of poise and noble bearing, proud of her beauty, her very caramely brindle stripes, her pure-bred British lineage, as is Jake. They should be proud of their looks. I, on the other hand, not so much; I have issues with my nose. Take a closer look. See that shiny flat part in front? A tiny headlight in the flash of the camera. That’s a droop.
Back in Nkana, when I was thirteen, my best friend, Colleen Dean (where is she now?), leader of our pack at St. John’s Convent School, started “training” her nose into a point ala Sandra Dee’s pert proboscis. She did this by pushing up the tip with an elegant tanned forefinger, chin resting on thumb and middle finger. I immediately adopted this habit. I had enough insecurities at the time, too short, too skinny, too muscular, hair too wild (and not blonde enough, like Colleen’s).I can’t remember if I went into this campaign worrying that the droop on the end of mine was as disfiguring as Colleen believed her slightly fat nose to be. But I became as obsessed as she did, seizing every private moment to press and train: while sitting in the back row of the Astra or the Rhokana Cinemas–even with a boyfriend!–at night while reading in bed, while doing homework, while bike riding down Kantanta, Princess and Geddes Streets, and while sitting on the toilet. Even after I went on to Kitwe High and Colleen left for boarding school in the Cape, I continued with an occasional press, but it just wasn’t the same without her. My nose has retained its little droop, but I do believe it could’ve been worse. I do believe Colleen was on to something. I also believe that there’s magic in pursuing an idea, no matter how unreasonable or how small; it’s practice for bigger and better ideas.