Wow, senior year. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Seems like just yesterday we were hanging out on the sidelines of the soccer field commiserating over tiny cups of lukewarm apple cider while these guys took shots on the wrong goal, doesn’t it? Time flies, time really just flies.
The end of senior year, the end of high school, the end of so much. But to new beginnings, am I right? Cheers to that, I mean, it’s been a haul.
Speaking of senior year, did you see Ethan’s senior picture? Yes, the one with the tiger. The one shot by Annie Leibovitz? Yes, that’s the one. She took a portfolio of images, actually. You really should see the director’s cut of that tiger picture, it’s wide enough to fill a gatefold in, say, Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue. Sure, I guess all of their issues are the same size, if you want to be particular about it. I’m just saying that I think you’ve only seen the wallet version which—while still being mind-blowing, don’t get me wrong—really is such a bastardization of Annie’s vision. I call her Annie.
I’m not gonna lie, standing around some jungle in Bangladesh watching my firstborn being slowly surrounded by eight Bengal tigers while her twelve assistants and the guy with the tranquilizer gun were frankly a little too far away to really do anything if it had all gone to shit was a little nerve-racking. But we’ve raised Ethan to be a creative, freethinking, socially aware, kind-to-animals, risk-taking future astrophysicist and humanitarian triathlete with model good looks so why stop now? Never quit, unless that’s something you want to do, that’s what I always say.
Look, Jim and I said we wanted something different from that local photographer and his prepackaged over-the-shoulder, tilted-head, soft-focus faux sunset-and-gazebo poses and boy did we ever get it. I’m not sure the $4,350 worth of custom-made tiger leis—that weren’t even used, P.S.—were necessary, but who am I to tell Annie Leibovitz that? I’m nobody, that’s who. I’m just the person writing the checks. So many checks.
I guess my second favorite picture from Ethan’s Transitions: A Portfolio by Annie Leibovitz® was the one where he’s half-submerged in a bathtub filled with pale cherry blossoms and only his bare limbs and unshaven (per her request) face are poking out. Jim said it felt derivative of her milk-bath Whoopi Goldberg shot but, seriously Jim? Stick to being a part-time dad. For a change.
I don’t think anyone realizes how much attention she puts into every detail. Even the details that no one, not even those of us on set or paying for said details, would notice in a million years. She hired twenty-two virgins to de-stem every single cherry blossom. You heard me. Because cherries, de-stemming, virgins, you know. My mind was BLOWN by the way she took such a lowbrow concept of sexuality and transformed it. This was no Warrant’s “Cherry Pie,” that’s for goddamn sure. And, yes, it took six hours for the whole virgins and de-stemming thing and it made us go over budget by $36,335 but I think you’ll agree the final image is more than worth it. It’s just a treasure. A treasure of unaffordable symbolism. There are no other words for it.
I’m also partial to the gladiator one, shot in Scotland. Which just between you, me, and that surveillance van, why Scotland? Aren’t gladiators from Rome? I guess it just goes to show that sometimes you need a true artist to question everything you’ve been spoon-fed about history. Because what I should be asking is “Why NOT Scotland?” Along with “Why is everyone flying first class?” and “WHY IS MEL GIBSON HERE?” Forty pounds of armor, two hundred and fifty extras, one hundred untrained horses, a severe thunderstorm that we had to chase in a caravan of twenty rental cars, three production trucks, a weather van, fifty-five livestock trailers, and a handful of loose male lions later, Annie finally captured the image she had so expertly envisioned. Yes that shot alone resulted in overages of close to a million dollars but how else would Ethan know we love him?
Anyway, while I have you here, I just wanted to say that we’ve so enjoyed being your neighbors. It’s just been such a joy to raise our kids together, to see them leap through sprinklers in the front yard when they were little, to watch them grow into the wonderful young men they are, and now to watch as they get ready to head off into the world!
Related to that last part, li’l change of plans. We’ve come to “unschooling” a bit late in the game so we’ve decided as a family that Ethan is going to delay his start at Columbia this fall and will instead be spending next year (maybe longer!) wandering around in the woods skinning squirrels and whittling. And I’m going to be rejoining the workforce! And Jim is getting a second job. Also, our house is now on the market. Also, our cars. Also, the boat. Also, my wedding dress. Also, do you know anyone who wants to buy my wedding ring?
But we just couldn’t be happier with Ethan’s senior pictures, you know? I mean, Annie Leibovitz!
Illustration by Sarah Letteney