I was on my way home from the grocery store waiting for a red light when I noticed the lady behind me doing something unusual. I watched her in the rearview mirror as she held up a page of negative sleeves up to the sun.
Wow, I thought. That’s a blast from the past.
When’s the last time you’ve seen negatives out in the wild? Hell, I don’t think I’ve really dealt with negatives since college. Watching that lady look at those negs reminded me of watching “Funny Face” with Jaycie and Max during Musical Night over Christmas Break.
They were obsessed with the darkroom scene when Fred Astaire is singing about Audrey Hepburn’s funny face. Why is it the light red? Does that really happen when you put it into that tray? Why does it have to be dark? How could you see anything?
“You mean you know how to do that?” Jaycie asked.
“Hell yes,” I said.
All my photography classes came back to be and I began yammering about silver crystals, dodging and burning, fixer, and the black bags you’d shove your hands in to unroll the film from your canister so you could develop it.
For once they listened with rapt attention.
“It sounds like magic,” Jaycie said.
“It was like magic,” I said.
“Where did you learn all that stuff?” Max, ever the skeptic, asked.
“In high school and college,” I said.
“You had darkrooms in college?” Max asked. He was incredulous. He might as well have asked if I took Poli Sci 101 from a Brachiosaurus.
I then went on to explain how digital photography was really new when I was in college. So new, in fact, that I even wrote a story for the newspaper about this newfangled Photoshop stuff and digital cameras.
“Wow,” Jaycie said. “I hope I get to use a darkroom when I’m in high school.”
“Me too,” I said. “Because I got a Nikon camera. . . ”
Then I started to sing because it was musical night, after all. But I really do have an old Nikon SLR upstairs. Next time they come over I’m digging out that crap — the negatives, the SLR, and the big box of 8x10s I printed of people I barely remember.