Watches His First Photography Lesson Go Horribly Awry

LI shakes his head and forces down the last of his burger. Cleaning his fingers like a cat, he puts the empty Styrofoam box in my fridge. 'Hold on. Why on earth do i want that7' I say. 'I had some salad leftover.'

'I don't do leftover salad. It's served once and I eat it or I don't; that's it. It's a rule of mine. What are you shaking your head about?'

Eli shrugs and comes back to the sofa, leaving the Styrofoam in the fridge. 'That's a bit rich you lecturing me on rules,' he says. 'Why's that, then7'

'There are certain things a man should not do,' he says. 'Tug on Superman's cape. Spit in the wind. Ask a woman if she's pregnant unless you're certain there's a bun in the oven. And never, ever give away a camera.'

Ugh. This again. I grab some chips and ignore him. In a minute the buzzer is going to ring and my daughter Leila and her husband Stuart will arrive for Stuart's photography lesson I'll show him how to load film and focus and mount a tripod, and when they leave they're gang to take my beloved Pentax SV with them. Caught up in a moment of joy at learning of Leila's pregnancy, I promised her husband he could have my camera to document her changing body. I don't regret the decision. I'm quite excited to teach Stuart. But the enormity of losing the SV is sinking in.

I feel like the fraught mother of a death row inmate, spending every moment with her son on his last day. Like her son, my SV may be crude and without its charms, but it was very sweet once and will always be special to me. It's on my lap now, next to my chips. And in a minute that buzzer is going to ring.

'What did you say exactly? He could have it or he could keep it?' Eli asks.

I forget. I pick up a copy of AP 18 April and look at my column. 'Have it.'

'Well, have it could just mean for the duration of her pregnancy. Then they can give it back,' he reasons. I contemplate it briefly. Then the buzzer rings.

Helios and hugs take over, and suddenly I'm embarrassed for Leila to see how I live. I quickly introduce them to Eli, who asks if he can take their picture and pulls out his DSLR. I didn't know he brought it. I go to the fridge and get some film from behind Eli's empty Styrofoam. When I come back, Eli has his DSLR mounted on my tnpod and is showing Stuart how to use Live View. 'Hey, what's this?' I protest.

'Eli was just showing me his different settings,' Stuart says. 'How many settings does our, I mean, your camera have?'

'Just one, I guess.' His face drops. 'But it does a lot morel' I present the SV. 'See here, it's got all these different, uh, shutter - shutter modes. See, 1 through 1/1600th. And look at all these, uh, ASA features.'

'Oh, every camera has those. Don't listen to him,' Eli says. Stuart's head whips round like a cat following a fly. 'ASA isn't even ASA any more. It's ISO. And my

ISO goes into the thousands.'

'And the picture looks like a Jackson Pollack, it's so noisy.' I glare at Eli. 'He just wants to take a daily picture of Leila.'

'Or maybe he doesn't. There's loads else he could do. Don't you want to put your pictures online, Stuart, so all your friends can see Leila7'

'That'd be wicked. I could put 'em on Facebook and start a group.'

'You're right, honey,' I say. 'Won't you please think about what Leila wants? She grew up with this camera. It'll mean a lot to her to have her picture taken with it.'

'No, dad, I mean I don't think I want to be all fat and uncomfortable and posing every day - particularly not for all our friends to see.'

'But Leila!' Stuart and I shout. Stuart kneels before her and begs. 'No Facebook group, then,' he says. She doesn't answer. 'Leila... you got me on my knees! Leila, I'm begging, darling. Please7'

She smiles and says, 'OK, but no Facebook.' Stuart nses. He puts his arm around me. 'Mr C, I'm honoured you trust me so much you'd give me your camera...'

'Well, I already trusted you with my daughter. I suppose it's...'

'But I can't take your camera.'

'Oh now, Stuart, don't be silly. Of course, you can. I want you to have it.'

'No, Mr C, what I mean is... um, I don't want it. I want one with Live View.' He looks at Eli 'Can I still get one in all black like yours?'

Eli nods. 'Of course. We can go to the store now, if you'd like.' And as they gather their things and file out the door, Eli waits for me to get my coat. 'See,' he says. 'I just saved your camera. You can thank me later.' AP

EG My SV may be crude and without its charms, but it was very sweet once 99


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