I’ve got a crush on the photographer. He looks kind of dirty and wears his hair wrapped back in a fold over pony tail. It’s that look: the I don’t care, I’ve been there. The lines on his forehead suggest he’s been everywhere. Maybe it’s just the smoking.
He lights a cigarette. As he reverses the car fast. 40km-an-hour fast. Backwards. “Don’t try this at home,” he says, “Or in your dad’s car.” He parks and pushes the door open with his foot. He swings his camera casually over one shoulder. Nikon. The lens is so long it dwarfs its body. Like an arm or a leg, he’s totally comfortable.
I try not to stare, but it’s magnetic, like cleavage in summer. I don’t remember experiencing Freud’s Electra complex as a child. I never stared into my five year old panties and wished I had a penis. I didn’t tug on my mother’s skirt and whimper “Mommy why do I have castration anxiety?”
But I experience anxiety standing that close to those cameras. Those camera boys. “Well let’s just get to the chase of it. I’ve been married three times. I’m bad in relationships,” he says as the loose olive green weave of his jersey moves along his collar bone. He gets out of the smog of the city on the weekends. Goes to the coast. Lets his hair get knotty in the waves. Visits his kids.
And my camera sits in my bag. On the floor. At home. It’s like a secret I force myself to keep. The need to record. It’s a secret I can’t keep. Forever. “Most people at work don’t know this,” he says. Never drank beer, writes in Arabic. He thinks I talk too much. He’s not wrong.
He’s a Spanish and art history major. He’s got red hair and tall legs. And when he laughs, or smiles at you, he looks like he is really happy. I want to keep him talking forever. “My ex-girlfriend made me memorize her phone number after I got stuck in prison,” he says. “Coloureds get the worst of the racism. Blacks are scared of us. Whites are scared of us.” “I’m not scared of coloured people,” I say. He laughs.
And there is one question on my mind the entire time we are talking. Can I touch your lens? How do you get the eyes in such clear focus? Studied some things. Smoked some things. That’s his style. He makes it seem too easy. And when he gets back to the newsroom he doesn’t stare into his camera the way I stare into my notebook. He never says to the computer screen, “What the fuck am I going to write?”.