By Matt Gordon
I’ve officially joined modernity. At least most of me has. I’ve been photographed, by phone, in the nude.
The shot was tasteful. It was full-backal, scrawny calves to nape of neck. It was art—Pale, Gaunt: Man, Exposed.
The photo was captured by aspiring three-year-old photographer—and my son—MJ Gordon (now pronounced Gor-Doane for artistic effect). I was helping his one-year-old brother into our nightly shower, when the intrepid paparazzo caught the naked moment. I turned—a risky proposition given the circumstances—and hustled over to reclaim my phone and dignity.
I snatched the phone and peered at the damage and I was shocked. One seldom sees the backside of himself. You put your front-side in and front-side out before a mirror almost daily. But the rest of you? It lives safely in the shadows—out of sight, out of mind. What I saw was not Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall. It was not even Mel Gibson in Braveheart. If I had to filmify the scene before me, it would likely need to be a grisly war-time drama in which I was the ill-treated, malnourished prisoner of war. That, or Gollum.
I donned a towel—oh, sweet safety!—and rushed out to my couched wife. “Look what your son did!” I cried, showing her the phone. (Note: It is her son when he is bad. He is my son that one time he was good.)
Her eyes got big; her laughter, bigger.
I went on to explain to her the worst part. When a picture is taken there is a little button that allows one to share the picture on social media or in text message format with some preferred friends. The friends that populated the suggested text recipients included, but were not limited to, a group text to my three sisters and mother and a group text to a few women with whom I work (and see just about every day of my life).
I deleted the photo and went and finished the shower, head-on-a-swivel. When I got out, my wife reminded me that the picture remains in my “Deleted Folder.” Of course it does. Let’s make sure to back that thang up. It probably also exists now (and forever) in the cloud. Growing up, I was often told my head was in the clouds, and now, as an adult, my arse is too.
“What would you have done?” my wife smirked.
She wanted to know my reaction if a nude photo of myself had been sent out to friends, family members, and coworkers. What a morbid thought! First, I would have called them and tried to persuade them that I wasn’t a total creep. My rationale would be that the picture was taken by my three-year-old son which would not do a whole lot to dispel the perception of creepiness. But I would have apologized, pleaded that they delete the photo and not cancel me, prayed that they shared it with no one, and then avoided them for the rest of my life. It was really pretty simple.
“At least they would have known it wasn’t a selfie,” my wife reminded.
Yes. So this way, if they didn’t buy my story about my son taking the photo, they would have had me setting the camera up just so, with love and care and precision, testing the lighting, trying a few different positions, then setting a timer and scurrying over to assume the winning pose. What she meant as comfort sent a shudder down my recently photographed spine.
Then a more sinister thought developed in the dark room of my mind. What if my son sent a picture like this without my knowing? Say he sent it to Mary from work. Here’s how the next day would play out:
Matt: Hey, Mary! Nice day, huh? How’s everything going?
Mary: (runs away crying)
Matt: Poor thing. Must be having a rough time. Maybe I’ll send her flowers or grab her lunch or something?
You can see where this goes, yes?
Or taking it another direction: my son sends the nude to my boss. I had sent my boss a text the day prior to my son painting me like one of his pretty French girl’s, and he had replied, so a return text was in the realm of possibility—an easy click for small thumbs. This man, my boss, is a country boy—into nature and animals. But this situation perhaps pushes the wildlife motif a bit too far. I could see him calling me up or asking to meet with me to get to the root of things:
Boss: Thanks for coming by, Matt. Everything okay?
Matt: Yes sir, boss! Everything is ship-shape.
Boss: Okay. But you know we need to talk about what happened.
Matt: (trying to guess what happened and meet the shift in tone) Yes, yes we do. We need to get to the absolute bottom of this.
Boss: Okay, go ahead . . .
Matt: . . .
I could see this conversation going on for about a year. Or worse, no conversation ever happening. In some cases, MJ could have probably sent the lurid photo to someone without my knowledge, and I just would never know it. Eventually, the aforementioned Mary would have slugged me or called the cops, but I could envision a scenario of silence in which for all of time I am the closet pervert for someone without my knowledge, the proverbial and literal butt of their jokes.
This all makes me realize how much times have changed. My son represents one of the first generations that can so easily take pictures of their fathers’ bare buttocks. What a world we live in!? What a world indeed! Would classical Greek children even understand our privilege, as they toiled away in vain attempts at sculpting paternal rear ends? Growing up, if I had been caught up in a photographic fervor, I would have had to get our family’s old Polaroid camera all charged up and ready to go. One would push a button and it sounded like a tiny jet revving for take-off—it would have been hard to sneak into the bathroom unawares. But if I was able to “get the shot,” a tremendous flash would have given me away, and the picture would have needed about a year to come into shape—early on, the hind parts of my father would have been gray infamy awaiting the chemical reaction to bring full color to the picture. Is that candied yams? Some melons? An ancient portal or doorway of some kind? Oh, now I see! It is some legs and a butt! Nice.
Then having the Polaroid picture fully developed, I would need to ride my bicycle down to the local copy store. With the adequate copies now in hand, I’d need to find the addresses of my father’s closest work associates, family, and boss, address the envelopes, buy stamps, and get those cheeks in the mail.
That is a lot of work. In my day, it wasn’t even worth the trouble of photographing my father naked.
Nowadays things are different. So I need to take some action. Not on photographing my father. No, that ship has sailed. No, what I mean is I need to safeguard myself from my voyeuristic offspring. First, I plan on changing my phone password from 1111 to 7777 immediately. That will throw him off the scent. If I can lock or totally remove the camera function, it is probably a worthwhile departure. Extreme, you say? You didn’t see what I’ve seen. They’ll try to sell me on a 16K camera with multiple dimensions when it is time to upgrade, and I’ll parry with, “Do you have anything more grainy? Anything that loudly announces itself five second before a picture is snapped?” I’ll also probably use this as a motivational opportunity, finally, to get really shredded like I’ve been intending to do my whole life after seeing shows and movies of guys who are really shredded. And when that doesn’t work, I’ll begin showering in sweat pants—discretion being the better part of valor and all that. Regardless what other tactics I employ, I’ll begin keeping my phone up high. It just might save my butt.
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