The photoshoot went smoothly. Some awkward moments occurred when I had to stand so close to him that I could tell he had shaved that morning. I focused on the hardcover book I was using for a prompt and the photographer asked me to look up because I looked like I was sleeping. So I made chatter about my paper and what the book said about the Victorian family. He admitted he hadn’t read many great Russian novels. I told him that I had only read Anna Karenina. He joked that he hadn’t read it because it was long and he’s a slow reader. It’s uncomfortable to look someone directly when you’re close enough to check for lice. I hearing something about Chamorros, that from a distance, we’ll stare at people with laser-beam intensity, but when we’re face-to-face, we look at anything but the person in front of us.
When it was over, he left and I had some individual shots taken. I could see my face on her lens and I remembered that when I was little, my mom told me that my smile looked fake. When I lost my two front baby teeth, my family called “window teeth.” My brother sang, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two-Front Teeth.” When I had to get silver caps because of cavities, my sisters told me not to smile because I would break the camera. In retrospect, I must have had an awesome gangsta grill. Cash-money, even.
So I walked to his office to tell him thanks but he wasn’t there. I waited for the elevator, reading the names on the doors down the hall. Suddenly I heard, “Hello,” and when I turned, I gasped deeply because I was about one step from plowing into my professor and his steaming cup of coffee. I watched the fog lifting up from the styrofoam rim, thinking, “Oh thank God.” It must have been startling for him to see me revert to a childlike position with my hands over my face. It all happened quickly enough then we headed toward his office where we talked about the magical charm of photographs.