I was delighted to get an email from Motherpedia, telling me I’d won a $500 photographic session with Verve. “Oooh”, thinks I. “We haven’t had a family portrait since that fundraiser at the Teen’s primary school, 12 years ago. It would be nice to have a portrait photo that has the littlest Kidlet in it”. Soon after, the gift card came in the mail. It was pretty swish. All matt black and silver, with glossy brochures and a promotional DVD. The brochures said the $500 covered the cost of the photo shoot, the design consultation, and a single 8×10 framed portrait. Ouch! Still, at that price, at least I could be sure I wouldn’t wind up with a photo like this one:
Before I had the chance to call them, Harry from Verve was on the phone, trying to book me into the soonest possible session. He was so completely, totally upbeat, I wondered if he was sucking helium. Surely nobody can squeak with excitement like that without chemical assistance? Despite feeling faintly alarmed, I booked us in.
Next I had a call from the designer. Did I say Harry was upbeat? Wrong – if you compared him to the bubbly bundle of fun that was Rebecca. She wanted to discuss options for props we could bring to the photo shoot. “We want to make artworks that capture the bond between your family“. Ah. Action shots.
So I sat the family down on Saturday, and discussed the photo shoot with them. I was quite clear about it. “Two outfits. Got it? Two outfits. One dressy, one casual. But, NEAT casual. No moccasins, no pilling, nothing stained or ripped, and it has to fit”. Everybody groaned. “Each of you is to bring something important to you. It can be a hobby item, a favourite teddy, a loved book, a board game. Just don’t go overboard”. Everyone looked bewildered. So I showed them the brochures, and parroted some of Rebecca’s descriptions. I guess I must have been imitating Rebecca a bit too enthusiastically, because my family were looking at me with worried concern. “Is your headache back, darl? Can I get you some Panadeine?” asked the Boss. Actually, the headache I’d had since Thursday hadn’t really gone away, so I just glared at him and took the Panadeine.
When I asked the Teenie what he planned to take, he said, “Pokemon”. Obviously.
The middle Kidlet loved the brochure pictures with cakes, so she decided to take cupcakes and decorate them at the photo shoot. “Make sure you bake them today”, I reminded her. “We have to leave early in the morning, so we won’t have time to bake them then”.
The Boss said he couldn’t think of anything, and probably wouldn’t take it even if he could think of something. I’m not sure what he muttered next, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t repeat it even if I had heard it. He also waxed eloquent on how smart the Teen was for not answering her phone or responding to messages, and how he might just disappear for a few days with his phone switched off. I told him if he tried it, I’d tie him naked to the mailbox with a dog leash. (Again. But this time it wouldn’t be fun).
The littlest kidlet said he wanted to take monkeys. By now the headache was insisting that I go and lie down, so I just said, “fine, whatever”, and with a final reminder to set everything out that night, I went to bed.
Bright and early on Sunday morning, I dragged my headache out to the kitchen to pack up the middle Kidlet’s cupcakes.
There weren’t any.
So I baked some.
See if you can guess how many rude words I said?
While they baked, I rummaged around for the books I wanted to take. Do you think I could find them? No. No I could not. Somebody had come into my room and taken my books. Somebody had come into my room, and TAKEN MY BOOKS! After a half hour of stomping, searching and swearing, everyone else had woken up, and in a vain attempt to shut me up, began to help me search. Another half hour passed by before anyone bothered to ask me what we were looking for. As soon as I named the books, the littlest Kidlet said, “Oh, those! Middle Kidlet has them in her room”. She did, too. They were buried under a pile of dirty socks and chocolate wrappers that I had stepped over at least 14 times during the search.
Muttering rudely, I stomped back to the kitchen to assemble my finest cake decorations. Then I went for a shower. The Boss had beaten me to it. Muttering even more rudely, I stomped back out to the kitchen to check on the Kidlets. Middle Kidlet was adorable. Ditto the Littlest Kidlet. But the Teenie was dressed in a daggy t-shirt that I swear I threw in the rag bag last year. His trakkie daks were an old pair of mine, also from the ragbag. They were pilled and faded, and about two sizes too small for him. When I shrieked at him to go and change, he replied, “but I don’t want to get my new Pokemon t-shirt dirty, and my bum looks too big in my new jeans”. It occurred to me that he hadn’t listened to my instructions the day before, so I asked what dressy clothes he’d packed. He didn’t answer. I looked in his bag and found an old suit jacket from the Dress-Up box. Huh. At least he was half listening. Unlike the littlest Kidlet, who hadn’t packed a second outfit. So I had to dig through their cupboards to find where they’d hidden their Sunday best. It took a while. I swore a lot.
By now the Boss was out of the shower. He was wearing a flannie. Guess what I said?
Once I’d finished my own shower, I grabbed my favourite designer blouse from the cupboard. Or, at least I tried to. It wasn’t there. No long and profane search ensued, though, as I spied it immediately. It had slipped off the satin hanger and was crumpled up on the floor amongst my boots. I picked it up, wondering if I had time to iron it. Nope.
I started yelling instructions at people. “Kidlet! Pack those cupcakes into a container! Teenie, brush your teeth. Boss! Where are your good clothes? Teenie, put that bloody DS down and go and brush your bloody teeth. Now!” Then I noticed the littlest Kidlet. He had packed two knapsacks with about 16 toy monkeys. I opened my mouth to repeat what I’d said to the Boss about his flannie, but then I remembered I’d agreed to this yesterday, before the Panadeine kicked in. So I let that one slide. But I didn’t let it slide when I saw the Boss’s good clothes. He had taken them off the hangers and dropped them on the couch. The couch that Teenie was sitting on. I had to iron after all.
Halfway to the Verve studio, I realised that I’d packed cakes and decorations, but no icing. We had to stop at the supermarket to buy some. By now I was running out of swear words.
We arrived at Verve spot on time. Not bad, except that we were supposed to be there 10 minutes early, to set up. I opened the boot, where the Boss had packed all our stuff. The dressy clothes were on the bottom, in a big wrinkly tangle. “That’s it”, I thought. “We’re going to have to be photographed naked”.
We were greeted by the photographer, Cat, who made Harry and Rebecca look depressed. Cat was SO THRILLED!!! to meet us. I began to wonder if they were piping Nitrous Oxide through the air vents. We were treated to the tour, which really was impressive. Then we started the photo shoot. The whole time I was wondering, “Where’s that bloody coffee they promised me?” The Boss was muttering, “Where’s that bloody beer you promised they had for me?” The Kidlets started eating the naked cupcakes. And Cat kept being so bloody cheerful, I wanted to…. actually, she was very nice, so I couldn’t quite formulate any punishment for her good nature that didn’t make me feel guilty.
Despite the lack of promised libations, the Kidlets behaved themselves:
The Boss hid his loathing of photographic sessions quite admirably:
and despite the numerous candles scattered all around the studio, nobody set fire to anything. So all in all, it was a pretty good session.
Today I had a call from Rebecca. She and Cat had just gone through the photos and they were SO EXCITED!!!, they had to ring and tell me about them. We’re due to go to the viewing next Sunday, and I’m a little nervous. How can they be excited about monkeys?
I’m also wondering if there’s been any photoshopping. Because the only way to disguise the manic look I’m sure I had last Sunday, is this:
Then Rebecca asked me if I’d had time to read the Style Guide they’d given me after the photo shoot. I hadn’t, but promised I would. The Style guide also included a price guide.
Prices for the photos start at $295.00. Each. Then they rise … and rise … and rise … until they get to the point where a single canvas costs substantially more than my car did.
Somehow I don’t think we’ll be buying many photos.
But I think we might buy one or two. This is, after all, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Mainly because the Boss has declared it so, and threatened me with all sorts of dire punishments if I enter any more competitions with photographic prizes. Some of those punishments involved a dog leash and the letter box, so I know he’s serious.
I’ll be good.
And in case you’re wondering, yes I still do have the headache. I may have to call Harry and suggest that they put Panadeine in their swish black gift packages. Or at the very least, a cylinder of that Nitrous Oxide.