Photoshop hardly differs from long-held memory
I watched a honey bee crawl out of my Coke can on the patio a couple of Sundays ago. At the same time I was watching CBS Sunday Morning air a story about Photoshop, a software program that can be used to clean up, improve or misrepresent reality in pictures. The Coke can triggered a memory from childhood that I have often thought about and used when life seemed particularly arbitrary. Then the Photoshop story made me think a little more about it. On the Sunday Morning story, a woman of average looks is gradually enhanced pixel by pixel to have a longer neck, larger eyes, smoother skin, etc. She becomes a magazine cover with windswept hair and all. It is the same person but not. There is more of her to see.
My memory has to do with growing up in downtown Corydon with a neighborhood of typical ’60s characters that ran around, bored the town merchants, but kept the neighborhood lively. There was the guy who was older, always in trouble, generally scared us little girls, but somehow I suspected he had a sense of humor lurking there. Maybe not.
Anyway, one hot summer day when the group was assembled and doing not much, he showed up with a Miracle Whip jar containing a monstrous bug. Everyone agreed it was a queen bee from some hive somewhere, and good Lord, it was huge. Lots of shaking and peering was done, and then the questions arose, ‘What to do with it?’ ‘How about throwing the jar in the creek?’ Fine. We headed down there, and the guy threw it way out in the middle where it floated along nicely toward the dam.
This I guess was anticlimactic, so somebody said, ‘Throw a rock at it.’ This guy was the type who was never, ever going to be an athlete. He just didn’t have the temperament for it, and he was a doomed soul when he tried to hit a ball, throw a football or swing a golf club. Something awful ALWAYS happened. Back to the jar. He picked up a rock and with an arm of gold, broke the jar, and the bee flew out. She headed for us all. A lot of screaming, whirling and arm grabbing ended in a mass run to our individual homes.
My point is this: How much of this memory have I Photoshopped? I can hear our tennis shoes in the gravel taking off. I feel the breath of all-out running and the absurdity of laughing and running at the same time. Was the throw really that good, and that far, and that unbelievable? In my mind, the fact that he hit that jar was proof God exists. Was the bee really that big? Have I colored it to be huge and aiming to latch onto my neck and never let go, like ‘The Birds’ tried to do on those school children? My memory says that the bee was lurking in the rose arbor, smoking a cigarette, waiting for me to come out for days.
I guess I must admit that the Photoshopped memory is more fun and a better story. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in a few wild moments. It was great.
Life has its glowing moments that can be enhanced, brightened and loved in their higher definition version and still be just as real.