All my life I’ve had trouble coming to grips with the difference between what I’d like to believe of myself and what hard evidence proves.
I first discovered my penchant for denial ’way back in the early 1970s. That’s when my parents decided to mail audio cassette tapes back and forth to keep in touch with our grandparents, who spent winters in Texas. I was about eight years old at the time, and the new tape recorder was a fascinating gadget. Fascinating, that is, until I recorded my first message and pressed the playback button. And this weird geeky voice issued from the tape recorder!
What the hell?!? (Or ‘what the heck’, I guess, since I was eight.)
I was certain the tape recorder was malfunctioning. I knew I didn’t sound like that. I could hear my own voice perfectly well in my ears (or, more to the point, in my imagination), and it was completely different. Even though my parents and siblings insisted that the recording sounded just like me, I was sure it was all just a tasteless joke and I refused to believe them.
But I eventually had to accept reality when I listened to their recordings. Their voices on tape sounded just like real life.
Damn. That weird, geeky voice was mine.
That memory came rushing back to me a couple of weeks ago. No thanks to COVID, I’m attending virtual meetings these days; so I got a webcam.
Let me just say that webcams were obviously created by the same sadists who install bright lights in changing rooms.
The first time I turned the camera on, this godawful old hag appeared on my screen. Pasty-skinned, she had deep grooves around her mouth and between her eyebrows, and the puffy bags under her eyes were big enough to accommodate a picnic lunch.
Clearly there had to be something wrong with the webcam, because I don’t look like that. Sure, I’ve got a few wrinkles, but they’re not really noticeable unless I look in the mirror while I’m wearing my glasses. (There’s something wrong with my glasses, too.)
But after attending my first online meeting, I’m chagrined to admit that everybody else looked the same on camera as they do in real life. So unless I somehow managed to buy a special ‘Funhouse Brand’ distorted webcam (and I’m not ruling that possibility out, just sayin’), I probably am the godawful old hag I see on my screen.
That was a severe blow to my powers of denial, but I shall overcome!
I’m pretty sure I only looked so bad because it’s a high-definition webcam and I was looking at it full-screen. It’s like looking at yourself in a magnifying mirror — everything looks much worse than it actually is. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
And if all else fails, I’ve just discovered that my webcam has a soft-focus setting that should blur reality nicely. Now, if only I could find some device to do that in real life…
Book 16 update: I’m on Chapter 23 and just finished my usual mid-book editing stage. Everything is tightened up nicely now, and I’m ready to bomb ahead!