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Mild-Mannered Reporter

Is that my son or Charles Nelson Reilly?<BR>

I have talked about my son, Sam, so often in my column, I thought you might want to see what he looks like.

Here is a recent photo of Sam, taken inside his secret headquarters inside an inactive volcano. As you can see, he is quite pleased with himself.

He has just strapped the impudent Mr. Bond to a metal table and turned on the laser. Now nothing stands between him and global domination.

OK, so it's really his school picture.

Do me a big favor. Retakes were taken Nov. 13. My wife wants to destroy this first round of photos in a ritual ceremony.

Most likely, the only record of this hideous expression will be in this column. Save extra copies.

One day, and this day will come, Sam will be running for the school board, dating your daughter or otherwise pretending to be a dignified member of society.

Show him this photo. Remind of him of what he put his parents through in 2001. If you happen to be his opponent for the school board seat, feel free to blow up the photo for advertising purposes.

Make him pay.

The person I really feel sorry for is the photographer. He or she had to photograph dozens of children that day. The photographer no doubt tried to coax a vaguely human expression out of the boy.

That this was the best that could be achieved says a lot about the photographer's fatigue and expression. "OK kid, ya wanna look like Charles Nelson Reilly? Fine!"

I suspect this is all part of the devious revenge God and my parents have been planning ever since I was a kid. I messed up my own share of Kodak moments.

Most notably during my cousin Matt's baptism.

The thing is I had to go the bathroom. I was Sam's age and control was not one of my more prominent virtues. My mother told me to "hold it" -- advice I took literally.

This was also the era of my "Popeye" fixation. I insisted on going everywhere with a corncob pipe in my mouth.

So what you got was a nice family photo with a strange looking midget smoking a corncob pipe and striking a pose rarely seen outside a Michael Jackson video.

My high school yearbook is another embarrassment. I decided the only way to pose for the group shot of the student newspaper group staff was in a trenchcoat and fedora.

At 6-foot-5, surrounded by tiny little cub reporters, I look like Dick Tracy in Munchkinland.

To tell the truth, I'm kind of proud of Sam. He has a demented, irreverent sense of humor. I respect that. I just wish he would take nice pictures. It's important to his mother.

What Sam doesn't know at his tender age is how rare good photos of yourself really are.

Take a look at your driver's license. If it's anything like mine, you look like you just escaped from Alcatraz. Actually, with the wild look in my eyes, I look like Jack the Ripper's long-lost brother.

I went a little overboard with the eyes this time. Last time, the DMV photographer caught me with my eyes at half-mast.

I looked like Marlin Perkins just shot me with a tranquilizer dart. I saw an FBI photo once of John Dillinger right after he was shot and killed by Melvin Purvis.

Only Dillinger looked a lot livelier in that photo than I did in mine.

The mugshot with this column turned out OK. This is the advantage of having a professional photographer on staff who can shoot several roles of film.

PhotoShop and other digital manipulations don't hurt either -- especially in getting rid of the dreaded Uncle Fester Eyes.

Something is lying to me, either the mirror or the camera. The mirror tells me I am average-looking human being. The camera tells me I'm Lenny from "Of Mice and Men."

Sam always takes nice photos. Well, when he wants to. He had a wonderful opportunity during Picture Day. Instead, he opted for "Freddy Krueger: The Early Years."

Has your child ever done this to you?

Children must be punished for this sort of behavior. Tell you what. Send in your child's worst school photo, and the story behind it, and I'll publish it in a future column.

Just make sure your child isn't old enough to sue for libel.

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