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Suburban Island

Camera-Ready
Friday, Dec. 20, 2002, 1:15 a.m.

Question: Is the camera ready?

What I learned: Interpretation is everything.

Successfully attending Monday night’s concert was a bit more complex than I had assumed. The complication revolved around a concert-must – the video camera, nestled in a carrying case lined with several years of prior concert programs in eye-catching colors. I thought I was prepared. I was wrong.

Preparation for evening school concert attendance is made up of several components, all of which I had checked off my mental list already:

  • Haphazard food consumption prior to departure and/or rabid fast food purchases en route
  • Plugging ears to repeated recitation by all minors in home regarding the level of pending homework being neglected due to concert attendance
  • Following household members around while incessantly repeating, “hurry up, we are going to be late” and/or, one of my favorites, “what do you mean you can’t find your music/shoes/dress pants/concert shirt/schedule.”
  • And of course, verification of camera readiness.

“Is the camera ready?” seems like a simple straightforward question. Then again, perhaps not.

Finally, I think foolishly, as we plunk down in the middle of a row ready to be concert-ized. We are here. We are seated. Let the playing and singing begin. It seems I was a bit naïve.

Why isn’t the pretty red record light shining like a beacon in the top corner of the viewfinder, I wonder, as my son hands the malfunctioning video camera to me. I fruitlessly press the record button. Maybe it is because the film is all used up.

This is not the first is-the-camera-ready mishap. It probably won’t be the last. But that’s okay because we always keep a spare film cartridge in the video bag. If I can just find it under all these programs - I stuff my hand into the bottom of the camera bag and start fishing around. Wait a minute, I know it’s here, just give me a second, I’ll find it, hold on, it’s right in here, it’s right… Crap.

After the first piece on the program, I made my untimely exit and went out into the freezing cold night to the only store within walking distance that seemed to hold any potential for having film.

Do you read Korean? I wish I did.

A very helpful man behind the film counter plunked down several film cartridges and a blank cassette tape. Audio. Video. I don’t know his strategy in providing me this choice. Buy the cheaper one, he suggests. I don’t think the audio cassette is the wisest choice however, and finally, after much examination, I buy something that is marked Hi-8. The rest is in Korean, so it was tough to tell, but this was my best shot.

A little colder, a little wiser, I felt a thrill of relief when the tape slide into place and filming began in earnest. Life is, in the end, sweetest for its simple pleasures.

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