I was knelt down in the driveway swapping lenses on my camera when one of the more obnoxious neighbor girls came skidding up on her bike throwing pebbles all over our driveway.
“Oh hi,” I said shielding my camera with my body, “I see you noticed my daughters were running a snow-cone stand today. No doubt you are here to beg for samples again?”
She snorted. “I probably don’t even want one,” but she was already picking up the colored bottles of syrup and shaking them in the air as Clara protested and pulled them out of her dirty hands. The neighbor mouse finally gave up and looked back down at me. “Oh, what’s that?” She pointed.
I sighed and held up the two pieces I had just separated. “This side is a camera, and this long piece here is the lens that attaches onto the end. I’m just swapping my lens out with this other one I have in my bag here.”
She peered into my camera bag, and I had to shoo her away when she started poking at things with her finger.
“Well,” she said finally. “I know those kinds of cameras already.”
“Oh, you do?” I squinted up at her, haloed by the sun, and I suddenly felt a pang of regret for giving up on her so quickly. Maybe her dad was interested in photography? Maybe I could have a neighbor that shared my hobby? We could talk cameras someday and swap lenses, share studio props. “Do you know someone that uses a camera like this?” I asked excitedly.
She recoiled in shock for a moment, a hand on her chest as if she were completely aghast at the thought. “No!” she said. “I saw that camera before, but when I saw it, it was in a Museum!”
We stared at each other for a moment. The hot noon sun beating down on us. A smirk was growing in the corner of her mouth, but it was a worried smirk. Without breaking eye contact, I twisted my new lens into place with a click, and she flinched. “Maybe it’s time for little girls to run along home now,” I suggested.
As she rode away I contemplated life. My youthful self-image. My cool dad t-shirts and cool dad camera slung across my cool dad chest like a cool dad battle ax. Was I nothing more than a museum piece now? An ancient mummy shaking my ragged arms at cocky young explorers that come to disturb my tomb? Well, I thought to myself. Just as long as they leave me alone, I’m happy.
As she peddled away I added, “Hey, and get off my lawn!”