Four years ago, Edie and I were with another couple hiking deep in El Campo. I was handing out lollipops right and left to not only niños but mamás and papàs too. I wasn’t overlooking any abuelos I crossed paths with either. Everybody likes something sweet and when it’s gratis…so much the better. It’s my signature way of breaking ice or if already broken, to widen up the channel. Works like a charm!
We were having some laughs with a couple of families and making a few photographs of them enjoying their afternoon as I handed out the chupetes. It was a scene I had played in dozens of times. I was scraping the bottom of my second bag of chupetes. It’s interesting to me that chupete translates to “pacifier” in Español. Well, they work. Everyone’s demeanor seems to pick up a point or two when that stick is poking out the corners of their mouths. Crema de Leche is my go-to flavor. That butterscotchy richness is universally loved! The wrappers are gold foil and recognized on sight for miles around.
I heard some voices calling and looked up to see a couple of brothers motioning to me from a second floor window. They were looking out a window from the side of a house that faced the road. When they had my attention, they began waving wildly and laughing even more. I couldn’t tell whether they wanted me to take their picture, give them lolipops, or both! With my last four chupetes, I walked up and stood on a mound of dirt in a vacant lot next to the window.
One by one, I carefully tossed all four to the brothers. They caught only one and scrambled away from the window to retrieve those whizzing by and hitting the floor inside. The one that hit the ground, I grabbed and overhanded it up to them. They pointed at my camera and made some animated faces, as boys do, cajoling me to make their photograph. They were being very rambunctious; I asked them to be serious. I used the first comparison that came to mind, I asked them to behave as if they were in church. We had some good camaraderie cooking by then and they seemed eager to try the mime I had suggested.
Well, as often happens with photography, the unexpected happened. I didn’t really expect the reaction I received. Here’s the first frame I made immediately following my request. I almost didn’t get the shot as the subsequent frames had them showing little turned up mouth corners as they worked to stifle their grins for a second. They seemed to figure their mime was easy enough for such a high return on their acting investment as four chupetes!
But for a moment, they are tranquil. So inquisitive, and yet so somber. I began to wonder what I was really seeing, wondering what serious thoughts might lie behind those beautiful brown eyes. I’m telling you, those eyes were a mile deep when the shutter opened and closed.
I’m all about celebrating the moments. I collect them with literary devices and photographs using camera, pen and keyboard to do the job. I always have a couple of bags of chupetes with me at the collection stations I select along life’s meandering paths. When the camera finishes up and my pocket notepad has gained a few words, everybody’s smiling with that telltale stick jutting out of the corner of their mouths. And, I almost always have a photograph or two that tell my story, just the way you like it!