A picture is worth a thousand calories

By Mike Murphy

Recently I got together with some relatives and we pulled out the old family photo albums. My sister-in-law pointed to a picture taken of her husband before they were married in which he’s wearing Speedos and sunbathing on a beach. She jokingly exclaimed, “That’s not the butt I know!” I thought, man, that sure sums up a feeling I’ve experienced lately.

This whole experience of looking at old pictures nowadays strikes me as somewhat masochistic. Sure, it was fun to look at the albums when we were younger—but now?! It seems half the time I don’t even recognize the people in the photos, including myself. I frequently exclaim things like, “Is that what’s his name? To think that he only needed one chair to sit down back then.” Or worse, “That’s me? I used to have hair?” The whole process is rather depressing.

Based on the old photos, it seems that when I was younger I was always doing something exciting, from floating down a raging Colorado river on a $2 air mattress, to hauling in what I thought was a world-record bass somewhere in the Ozarks, that turned out to be your average 20-pound carp.

Contrast that to more recent pictures in which I’m involved in boring activities like trying to stay awake during a lecture on bloating, belching, and intestinal gas.

And why is it that I look happy in the old pictures, but grumpy in recent photos? It’s as if now I always appear like I’m in some sort of pain, like someone just stepped on my bad toe, the one with the toenail that resembles a donkey hoof that hasn’t been trimmed for five years, even though I do trim it regularly using our electric carving knife. The ugly toenail that I’ve tried all sorts of remedies for, like antibiotics, tea tree oil, sacrificing a live chicken, etc.

Also, as I peruse the photo albums, one thing that really stands out or, rather, sticks out, is how my gluteus minimus evolved into gluteus humungous over the years. It’s like one’s butt is the ultimate timeline we can use to trace our life in photos.

That’s why these days when selecting a motel I try to avoid the kind with a bathroom full of mirrors. After all, is it really necessary to view one’s naked body from every possible angle while flossing?

Really, it’s gotten so bad that, while Fox Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews is suing a hotel chain for $75 million for causing her emotional distress because a stalker filmed her nude through a hotel peep-hole and posted the video online, I’m pretty sure that if that same Peeping Tom had mistakenly checked into the wrong room and filmed me instead of Erin, he would be suing me for emotional distress!

And, dang, if it isn’t just my luck that this recent selfie obsession and snapping pictures of everyone to plaster all over social media had to become so popular at about the same time that my complexion resembles a banana that’s ready for the produce clearance rack. Here I am with liver spots on top of wrinkles and blotches, and now all of the new personal tech items, from phones to watches, include a camera.

I recall using the Polaroid Instamatic Camera in the old days. It was so big and bulky and cranked out such lousy pictures that you’d swear there was a kindergartener squatting inside, hastily drawing them with a crayon. But today’s ubiquitous cameras unfortunately take perfectly clear high-definition photos, exposing all of my nose and ear hairs that have popped up since I trimmed them fifteen minutes earlier.

Adding to my photo woes, I’ve got this protruding gut that looks like someone duct-taped a Tom Brady slightly deflated football to my belly. It’s as if I suddenly woke up one day—oh, I’d say, around the morning of May 20th, 2009—and there it was, staring back at me from under the covers. I thought for a moment that I was mistaken and was actually lying on my stomach looking at my butt—but nope. So now between my butt and gut, my silhouette sort of resembles a tall dollar sign.

I have to admit that I have not yet been a victim of what the media refers to as “body shaming.” An example of this is when someone publicly ridicules a female celebrity for not being as thin as Taylor Swift, who, even when fully clothed, resembles a tripod wearing a hat. One writer implied that today men too are victims of body shaming, and their feelings are hurt when someone points out that their six-pack abs more closely resemble a keg.

Along with body shaming, society today also rightfully frowns upon bullying, teasing, mocking, name-calling, etc. Or what my high school buddies and I referred to back when we hung out together as “having a conversation.”

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist with accolades including an Associated Press first-place award in column writing and a first place award in a national writing contest sponsored by Nissan Corp. His articles are syndicated by Senior Wire.