Selfie by David Macfie

 “Dad, come sit with us. We want to take a selfie,” came the shrill voice of my twelve year old daughter, Amy. Not really wanting to be interrupted from my Samurai Sudoku puzzle, I tried to deflect her, by playing dumb.

“What’s a selfie?” I asked, disinterestedly.

“Daaad.” Screamed my eight year old son, Robbie, really sounding in physical pain. “How can you not know what a selfie is? That’s just terrible.”

“An’ it’s not cool,” offered, Jade, my six year old, with a wise-old-owl expression. Feeling a little outnumbered, I extended the deflection.

“Even if I did know, why should I care?” I said, trying to sound irritated.

Now, Frances, from her superior age of fourteen, got tired of this frustrating conversation, and decided to take a hand.

“Dad, let me explain. A selfie is when you take a cell-phone photo of yourself with friends or family members, or just scenery. Why you should care is because you usually do it to get a keep-sake or a memory of a time you enjoyed. Then you can enjoy it time and time again in the future.

“But I never look at old photos. Why would I start, now?”

“That’s selfish, Dad. It’s not just for you, it’s for the friends and family who are in the photo or others who missed the occasion.”

“Oh, I get it. I must sit for a photo that shows my grey old face and white hair, and looking like someone who’s been dead for a month, just so you guys have a memory. And when you look back at the photo, you’ll probably say things like, ‘Didn’t Dad look really old in that picture?’ or ‘Was Dad so sick when we took this?’”

“Don’t be silly, Dad,” said Frances, condescendingly. “You don’t look that old…….. Old, yes, but not that old.”

“That’s comforting,” I replied, sarcastically. “All right, I’ll sit for your selfie.

I duly did and looked at the result. I pointed to my image.

“See, I told you. Dead for a month……… at least a month.”

My kids all laughed, but I wasn’t really joking. I don’t like photos. They remind me that I am old. And there’s nothing I want less, than to be reminded, of that fact. And, particularly, I don’t need to be reminded by lots of images around me that make me look like a ghost. It’s bad enough waking up and creaking into my clothes. It’s bad enough, putting off cutting my toe-nails because I have to wait for one of my ‘loose’ days. It’s bad enough, having to lean on a wall so that I can get my socks on – this is really, really bad enough because I have two problems here – reaching my feet and keeping my balance with only one foot on the ground. Just one of the reminders of advancing age is that your body loses all its flexibility and its balance too. I really don’t need any other reminders of the fact that I’m getting old. There are plenty already. Glasses for short sight, different glasses for long sight; all the stuff I mentioned earlier; mottled skin on my hands and arms and forehead; dry skin, thinning hair; getting people in to do things I’m not strong enough to do anymore, to name but a few. And now I must add selfies to the list…… really? I don’t think so!

It’s not that I don’t want my kids to have fun and make memories in such an unthreatening way. It’s also not that I think selfies are bad things. It’s just that I don’t really want to be in them. And it’s not that I’m old fashioned, like my kids keep accusing me of being. It wouldn’t be better if it was an old fashioned camera that was making the images. Why? – Because it’s the images I don’t like, not the mechanism of creating them. So, selfies – I can’t live with them and my kids don’t seem to be able to live without them. What must I do? Well, I suppose I should do what a father should do – put my kids first – even if I have to sit for a selfie or two. I just won’t make it easy. I’ll grumble and huff and puff and make sarcastic remarks and generally act like the fuddy-duddy they think I am. (Fuddy-duddy? Where did that come from? Never mind, I’ll google it.) And after all the delaying tactics I’ll let them have their selfie. I might even take one or two myself, using a selfie-stick. (Yes, I do know about selfie-sticks. My wife tortures me with one while we’re on holiday.)

Then I had a great idea. I thought of a way I can have a selfie that gives me memories. One that doesn’t threaten my image-phobia. One that my wife and the kids will like as well. I couldn’t wait. I knew exactly where I could get it. I rushed out of the house, jumped in my car and sped off. I was away for a couple of hours and answered phone questions with a non-committal ‘I’m doing some shopping, don’t worry.’ I got back to the house and rushed in as fast as I’d rushed out.

“Selfie.” I cried.

My wife and the kids all gathered round and took up dramatic poses, waiting expectantly for the group photo.

“No, you’ve got it all wrong,” I said, pointing at the door. A small cuddly puppy came scrambling in, falling over her own feet in her haste to respond to her new name.

“Meet Selfie, out new golden retriever,” I said.