For this story I have changed the names to protect the innocent
( or guilty whichever the case may be )
Long before webcams and digital cameras I owned a tiny camera. I still have it today and as far as I know it is still functional although I haven't bothered making up any film for it for over 50 years.
A lady gave it to me because films were no longer available and she thought I might be able to make it work.
It was quite easy, in the darkroom, to attach a small piece of film to the paper backing on the spool so I got it working and took a few pictures but never really used it much.
It was someone else who recognised its potential.
Shirley was a bit of a practical joker at the art college I attended and when I showed her the camera she asked if she could borrow it some day. She knew I would have to develop and print the pictures so I figured she just wanted to play a trick on her friends.
A couple of days later we were in the common room and one of my classmates was talking.
I really wish I could be in her class. I know I could ask her out if she had seen more of me.
John was telling us this for the umpteenth time since he had become enamoured with Emily who was, in my opinion anyway, the best looking girl at the college.
Unfortunately he was too shy to approach her on the rare occasion she came to the common room and she was taking classes in, what I called, real art whereas we were in commercial art and technical drawing.
Shirley, who was in Emily's class, had refused to get involved but this time she spoke up.
She said she knew a way for him to get into the class and have a good reason to speak to Emily. She said they were always looking for models for drawing or painting and each time the model needed a break they would wander around talking to the artists as they worked.
We had seen some of their work posted outside the art room and it looked like something John could do if he could manage to keep still for long periods. Most of the time the models were seated, maybe reading a book or leaning on a table although occasionally they would be dressed in some period costume and holding a prop such as a sword.
I said That's a good idea, John. Why don't you do it?
John just mumbled something but at least it shut him up about Emily.
After a couple of weeks John surprised us by asking Shirley how he would go about applying to be a model. Shirley fished a form out of her portfolio asked John for his full name and college id and then handed it to him to sign at the bottom.
What about the rest of the sheet John asked.
Don't worry. That is all just regular questions. I'll fill those in for you before I hand it in. replied Shirley.
John signed and Shirley left.
John's tune changed now but he still went on about getting into the class. Now he kept wondering if he would ever be called.
A couple of weeks later he appeared in the common room grinning from ear to ear. He was to model on Tuesday evening. He was nervous but thrilled at his luck.
A couple of days later Shirley asked if she could borrow my camera. She said she wanted to take a picture of something but cameras were not allowed.
I loaded it up with a film and gave it to her the next day.
On the following Wednesday we were all expecting to hear all about it, although none of us expected him to get a date with Emily, but John didn't come to the common room and was very quiet in class.
It was Shirley who cornered me at lunch time and pulled me into an empty classroom.
How is John this morning? she asked.
He isn't talking I replied. What happened last night?
I am afraid I played a trick on him. She said. I couldn't believe he let me fill in the form for him without looking at it but as I filled it in I just couldn't help myself. In the place where it asks what kinds of poses you are willing to do I filled in 'All'.
When Mrs. Taylor introduced John to the class she said that this week she was hoping to have the model pose without a shirt so that we could see more of the human body than usual and get some pointers on muscle and bone structures but John had been more adventurous than most and was willing to pose in the nude so we would be able to get much more out of this lesson. I wish I had a picture to show you the look on John's face when he heard this but I have to hand it to him he took it in stride and when Mrs. Taylor told him to go behind the screen and remove all of his clothing, including his watch, and put on the dressing gown he went quietly.
Did he actually pose nude? I asked aghast.
Oh yes, unless you count a flag above his head as clothing. She replied. Would you like to see a charcoal sketch I did?
Naturally I had to see so she pulled out this sketch from her portfolio.
She showed me the drawing saying, Emily did a much better painting than I did because she is using oils right now and she is very talented.
This could be anybody I said.
She handed me my camera back and replied, Hopefully you will find something on here that will convince you.
You devil, I said, is this why you wanted the camera?
It was a long shot but I wanted to be prepared. she replied with a twinkle in her eye.
That night I developed and printed the pictures she had taken and one turned out ok.
The camera didn't take great pictures but good enough for us to recognize John in all his glory.
I showed it to Shirley first and she laughed, Well he did say he wanted Emily to see more of him.
When John finally started talking to us again he asked if I knew that Shirley was going to trick him. I assured him that it had been all Shirley's doing but I pointed out that he had learned two good lessons through it.
A few days later I was with John in the common room when Emily walked in and sat beside us.
She turned to John and said "Shirley told me what she did and I think it really took guts to go through with it when you found out. I don't think I could have done it. Did you really do that to get to know me?"
John blushed and I said "He sure did. So what are you going to do about it?"
"Well I really want to see South Pacific and it is playing in town this weekend. Would you like to take me, John?"
I don't know how John ever got a date because now he was sitting with his mouth open.
"Of course he would, Emily. I'm going to leave now and let you two figure things out."
After that John always seemed to have a smile on his face and last I heard he and Emily were still an item.
I don't know if they stayed together but in my mind I see them married with half a dozen kids and a beautiful painting of John, the flag bearer (or is that barer), over the mantelpiece.