Mental Snapshots

As much as I like to take my camera along with me on various jaunts in order to record new discoveries, some of the most memorable things observed occurred when I’d left my camera home. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve mentally kicked myself for not always having it with me “just in case.” On the other hand, there’s something about knowing you only have your eyes and memory with you, so you have to look at every little detail carefully so that you won’t forget. I suppose as a result, these unrecorded photographs remain more vividly in mind. Plus, some of those times, to bring out a camera would be awfully intrusive or downright crude. This incident would have been one of those times.

We were driving home from SLC’s wonderful downtown library, where we spend many of our Sunday afternoons. Several blocks away on one of the little side streets, as Hubby slowed for a traffic light stop, I noticed a man step into the white-striped pedestrian crossing. He walked with the shuffling gait of a much older man, yet all the other indicators of age told me he was probably in his late 20’s or early 30’s.

He was slow but he’d make it across well before the light turned green, so I wasn’t worried about him. I knew we’d all wait for him to cross safely even if the light did change, but I WAS worried about the baby in his arms. I surmised it was a boy about three months old. He was neatly dressed in color coordinated rompers and seemed to be generally well-cared for, but it looked as though he might pitch out of his father’s arms any moment the way his head was bobbing up and down, back and forth, and he kept throwing his arms up in the air trying to maintain balance.

As we came to a full stop and the man and child were in in our full view, I realised quite suddenly it wasn’t a baby at all. It was one of those lifelike dolls. But there was something about the way he held on for dear life to that doll’s legs at the same time clutching a bag in his other hand, exactly the way I remember trying to juggle a young child and diaper bag at the same time. But somehow you knew he genuinely cared for that baby! I couldn’t help wondering what his story was.

It wasn’t so long ago that we had seen Lars and the Real Girl the film about a lonely man who falls in love with a plastic sex doll. In Lars, the “girl” dies in the end, and we presume he went on to find a happy life with the real girl who seemed to care more than casually about him. To this day, I wonder what happened to the man with the baby doll. Later on someone told me that we were near a facility for mentally impaired people, and most probably this was a resident out for a Sunday stroll. I don’t have a bonafide photograph, but the snapshot fixed in my head probably couldn’t be captured adequately with a real camera. 

Special Notation: I started writing this post last Thursday during a class break, then Saturday I discovered a new blog, (through Ronni’s TGB) called Backspace, with such a refreshingly simple design that it drew me in immediately. After reading the first story, loosely written around camerea and photographys also, I knew I was hooked. This writer packs layers of insight into a few but meaningful words that fit on one small diary page — hand written! I knew I had to mention it here in this post, part 2 of “My Photographer Beginnings” from April 9. 


5 thoughts on “Mental Snapshots

  1. But for a stop light you would not have this story. We all need a stop light now and then to help us look at life.

    I promise to make more use of these little pauses in my day

  2. When I was working with people with cognitive disabilities we had a lady who had a “baby” and she took very good care of it. Even though it was a doll to the rest of us it was given a Mother’s love. I wonder how many people had the same experience you had when they saw her on the streets.

    Another comment, years ago my husband and I were driving and observed a man and his wife in the car in front of us who were having an animated conversation. He wold turn and talk to her and although she was looking straight ahead she would nod her had in agreement and it looked like she would laugh now and then. As they pulled up to the stop sign in front of us and we pulled in behind them we both burst out laughing when she turned to face him and she was a dog. I mean a real dog with a very long pointed nose and beautiful long red ears that we mistook for pony tails. It is fun to people watch and take those mental pictures.

  3. Hi! Thank you for the kind comments about my blog – I’m still finding my way with it but it’s been really gratifying to see people’s reactions!

    You paint a wonderful image of the man with his doll; a thousand times clearer than you could have done with a camera.

    A site I think you will love is – he writes about all the photographs he hasn’t taken.

  4. Pingback: Grannymar » I Wish

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