Friday, 7 December 2012

221: Picture of Innocence

Hands up anyone who thinks their ID card photo is a good likeness.  If the picture doesn’t show them looking like a criminal or a shifty salesman or really not much like themselves at all.  If they even like the photo.  No, thought not.  Usually ID card photos, especially those you have to hang round your neck on a string all day long, are hideous.

Michael’s photo didn’t look much like him, not like the real him anyway.  Even with his face reduced to about an inch in size his eyes glinted.  He had come-to-bed-eyes according to the girls in Marketing and many of them probably had direct experience.  Small size they weren’t so much come to bed, more sparkly in an indeterminate beguiling way.

His tiny hair was immaculate, a shadow of its larger real self.  His real hair was primped and styled into an exact version of nonchalant ruffle.  Every day exactly the same peaks stood and exactly the same teasels flopped in exactly the same way.  Hollywood could learn a lot about continuity from Michael.  Small size his hair was just attractively mussed.

Little Michael had a vague tan, something a man might develop from taking long country walks with a Spaniel or Labrador.  Real Michael’s face was showing the very first signs of sun damage from over-baking on beaches in summer and sunbeds the rest of the year.  Maybe he topped up with a facial wipe for special occasions too.  Small size he looked like he took care of himself just the right amount.

The biggest difference though, was that Michael in the photo looked friendly, he looked happy, he looked kind.  Photo Michael was exactly the sort of guy you could take home to meet your parents and your Mum would buy a new hat whilst your Dad started calling him son.  They’d think you had picked a real keeper and they’d tell you so, over dinner and in every phone call and in front of your friends.

Real Michael spent other people’s money in preference to his own, always.  At work he gambled with clients’ money seeking out ever bigger risks for ever increasing thrills.  His had the biggest gains and the deepest losses in the whole team.  And he often had a side bet on the deal too, so even when he lost he, and the company, won.

Real Michael personified ‘acquaintances not friends’ like he was a dictionary definition.  You were useful, you were in.  You were beautiful, you were in.  You were rich, you were in.  But if you lost your use or your looks or your money, well, you can guess the rest.

Real Michael was moody, switching between grumpy and angry and assertive so regularly it seemed more by will than by genuine emotion.  He was very careful too.  He knew exactly who shouldn’t see the darker sides of his nature, or at least how to play them out to become strengths.  Perhaps he was just competitive, or deep and meaningful, or serious as befits a man of his obvious ability.

Real Michael believed sleeping with the same woman for longer than a month was tantamount to security of tender.  Some women got to stay around for a while, but always with good breaks between dates.  A few weeks rest was enough to dissuade them of any ideas of permanence.  Usually there were several being dangled at any time, but you knew that didn’t you, deep down.

The urban myth was that he had a second photo ID card hidden in his loft conversion which showed his face dripping with greed and lies and lust and misogyny.  I knew that was the card he used every day.

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