Is She Really Going Out With Him?

I met her at a party. She was sexy in a vintage sort of way. Timeless, really. Oh, yeah, I knew I wanted her. I knew it the moment I saw her, but I knew I needed to play it cool if I was going to take her home. I'll trust that you understand.

But wait. It’s too easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and put all of the focus on her. Oh, I’m quite excited about this - excited about her - but I should begin with the party because that’s where we met.

As I was saying, I met her at a party. It wasn’t even a party so much as it was a monthly meet-up for a group of photographers, some professionals and others merely enthusiasts like myself.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to this party. For a guy who spent over a decade in broadcasting and has posted some of his most personal and intimate thoughts on this blog, even I am surprised by how shy I can be. I love meeting new people, but I prefer to meet them one at a time. I find large groups intimidating. This particular group can be especially intimidating. Beneath their friendliness lies an amazing amount of talent. I shoot pictures of lines, curves and patterns. They shoot for National Geographic. OK, maybe they don’t, but some of them certainly could. It’s intimidating.

The highlight of the evening was a white elephant gift exchange. Anyone who wanted to participate was told to bring a gift that cost under $10, or perhaps something used or homemade.

In case you're not familiar with a white elephant gift exchange, it works like this: Everyone draws a number. The person with the first number one opens a gift. The next person can either open a gift or steal a gift that’s already been opened. If someone’s gift is stolen, he or she gets another turn, either opening or stealing a gift. Once a gift has been stolen three times, it's out of play.

I wasn't going to participate in the gift exchange. I just wanted to hang out with the photographers I knew and hopefully meet a few more. That idea didn't last long.

A friend who also didn't want to participate in the gift exchange had brought extra gifts and handed them to two of us, telling us that we were going to play along whether we wanted to or not.  "Here. This one's from you and this one's from you." I had no idea at the time that the gift I was holding would lead me to meeting… well… before I get to the part about her, I should tell you more about the gift exchange.

Before we'd even started the gift exchange, someone cracked a joke about finding a real camera among the white elephant gifts. He said “I bet somebody put a real camera in one of those boxes” and we all laughed. I mean, really... it's a ten dollar gift exchange.  Who’s going to put a real camera in a ten dollar white elephant gift exchange? A Shamwow? Sure. But a camera? Not likely.

There actually were photography related gifts though.  Someone got a carrying case for lens filters and I believe someone else got a heap of lens cleaner. There were also more traditional white elephant gifts: a snuggie, a box of candy, homemade cookies, and so on.

I know you want to read about her and I swear I’m getting to that, but first, I’ll tell you what happened when it was my turn to open a gift.

Look: I’m a guy. When my number was called, I approached the assortment of gifts on the table at the front of the group and I asked myself the same question any guy would ask: "Do I open the largest gift or the heaviest?"

I chose the heaviest and I’ll tell you why.

A large box could be a trap. In that box could be a smaller box, containing a smaller box with a smaller box inside that holds a smaller box, and we all know what’s in there. A Smaller Box. I did that to my sister when I was a kid. Hey, I was poor. A pair of earrings was all I could afford, but I knew where to find boxes. Lots of boxes.

There’s no way that was going to happen to me! “Heavy box, here I come!”

I unwrapped that heavy box and saw a french press coffeemaker box. You’ve got to admit, that’s a cool gift, right? But there was a giant X over the french press with the word "Not!" written above it.

Click for a larger view.

A voice in the crowd shouted "Open it! Open it!" And I did. At first, all I saw was more newspaper, balled up. And then... a roll of film?

Click for a larger view.

Oh kay. Hang on. There’s more film?

Click for a larger view.

I assumed this was a gag gift... but under the film was a ball of bubble wrap, and inside the bubble wrap was...  GASP!   ...a 1972 Yashica SLR camera & lens.


Click for a larger view.

Luckily, the next person also opened up a camera. That one was a homemade pinhole camera made out of a coconut. I think people were so shocked by the coconut they forgot about the camera I opened. The coconutcam was stolen three times… but I kept my Ella.

Yes, I named my new sexy vintage camera Ella.  Her full name is Ellafantz Gerald (Ellaphantz Gerald White, actually...  as in, White, Ellaphantz Gerald).  Come on! That’s double-pun-tastic! And, yes, she went home with me! I'll be excited to go shooting with Ella, but I have a lot to learn before I do. I haven't shot with film since I owned a Pentax point and shoot in 1989.

It's worth noting that the guy who cracked the joke about a real camera being in the gift exchange was, in fact, the same person who put Ella in the gift exchange. He offered to take me out shooting with my new camera to teach me how she works.

I should also note that coming home Ella posed a problem.  How could I name this film camera but not have a name for my Nikon?!  I felt bad about that, and so, I knew she deserved a name as well.  Dare I say she needed one?

And, so, I’ve named my Nikon: Abigail Beatrice Stracht...  as in, A.B.Stracht.  The 'h' is silent (grin).

Abby and Ella.  I think those are fine names for cameras. I should note that the pictures here were taken with my iPhone, which I may or may not occasionally refer to as the Microtosh (because my Mac Mini is the Minitosh).

I also may or may not have named my heater Glenn Frey the 2nd, but that has nothing to do with cameras, and so, I’d appreciate it if you forgot I mentioned it.

::::: | Wednesday, Dec 15 2010 at 12:09 AM
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Kim said:

You're a very lucky guy. She's lovely.

::::: | December 18, 2010 9:05 AM

Rob said:

I know! I'm excited. I'm going to get a lesson on how she works this coming week, but I probably won't really go shooting with her until we get some better weather. Ack. That could be spring!

::::: | December 18, 2010 10:02 AM

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