Last summer my wife and kids visited our families in the United States while I performed in a play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My parents arranged a family photo with my siblings’ families and my wife and two sons, and although my exclusion couldn’t help but fuel long-standing suspicions my parents would pick my wife over me in a second, I felt relieved to avoid the hassle of combing my hair, putting on pants, and brushing the crumbs out of my beard to have my picture taken.
Actually, I didn’t have a beard at the time of the picture, but I did have a beard by the time my mom told me to have someone take my picture so the photographer could Photoshop me in. I expected to grow sick of the beard immediately and would take the picture once I shaved, but it’s been three months and the beard remains. I finally took the picture and figured if the photographer can Photoshop me in, maybe he can Photoshop the beard out.
And as long as he’s going to be Photoshopping anyway, I made a list of other requests to send him:
Is it possible to make my sons appear less handsome? I’m sick of people resenting me for seeming to “have it all,” and I’d like to counter their jealously by pulling a picture of my kids from my pocket and saying, “Yeah, but if my life is so perfect, how come I’m cursed with such ugly, ugly children?”
Please give all my nieces and nephews braces, acne, and thick glasses.
Is there a Photoshop setting that might remove the disapproving look in my mother’s eye? I wasn’t even present the day the picture was taken–how did Mom manage to project her disappointment in a manner only I could decipher while any other viewer would only see a smile and a twinkle in her eye?
If my hair looks thinner than my brothers’ hair, can you either thicken my hair or thin theirs?
I’m not sure what setting this would be in Photoshop, but can you make me seem like the type of person who’s good at sports? As a kid, I was terrible at sports and worked very hard to become aggressively average. If you could make me appear athletic, this would be great vindication if any Little League coaches see the photo and remark, “That pansy Paul sure grew up to be a strapping man.”
Is it possible to make the sister-in-laws appear jealous of my wife’s successes? Maybe a cocked eye and judgmental tilt of the head in her direction? If you can manage this, please send to me before Christmas so I don’t have to get her a gift.
Can you prepare one version of the picture in which my wife is replaced by Zooey Deschanel? Please don’t send this copy to anyone else except me. If you can’t manage this technology-wise, just send me a picture of Zooey Deschanel.