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(2007-01-13 14:05:35)

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     Arsenius said I was getting really good at signing up for things.
     However, Maybelle was the first to send emails with pictures, which really miffed me. Always out there in front, that's Maybelle. She sent me three pictures of her prize gardenias. They were clear so you could see the morning dew on their creamy white petals. Arsenius said you had to have a digital camera to send pictures, or a scanner, which was cheaper. We went to Media World and bought a digital camera.
     Arsenius said it would take a while to learn to use a digital camera. And then how to download and upload, which sounded vaguely racy.
     I said, "OK."



     Arsenius and I spent the next month clicking away at everything...all the flowers in my garden, spiders, snakes, ladybugs, and at the supermarket, square pumpkins and weird shaped eggplants and Ruth Ann, the cashier, and of course every angle of the Chevy. Then Arsenius took pictures of me, and I took pictures of him. We uploaded and downloaded, and I sent Maybelle a picture a day. She was impressed and started asking my advice on cutting and pasting and fancy framing for her digital pics. I was ever so accommodating and explained all the fine points on the phone, every night after the news.


That's when Arsenius asked if he could email a few of his "portraits", as he called the pictures I had taken of him, to his new girlfriend, Lavinia. Mind you, Lavinia used dime store perfume. I could smell it in the car. It was a heavy, musky scent forty year old prostitutes might use. I knew right away Lavinia was not the right girl for Arsenius, but kept my mouth shut. Until he started receiving pictures of Lavinia. He showed them to me, proudly. This girl/woman was his first girlfriend, you could tell; he had been too busy with his school, his family, his work to go seriously courting before. But now he had a car. My car.


My suspicions proved to be entirely correct. Within days, Arsenius started talking about buying a color printer. Media World delivered a color printer. Then three pictures of Lavinia appeared on my desktop, and were duly printed, five copies each. In the first, she was dancing in a bar and there were older white men leering at her in the background. In the second, she'd got herself up as a gypsy for Halloween. Gold jewelry hung from her ears, her neck, her arms, her hands, her ankles and all of her toes. There was a come-hither glint in her sultry eyes. In the third, Lavinia was curled up on a sofa, surrounded by five or six big black kids, all in sweatshirts, hood up, huge jeans and giant laceless tennis shoes. Not one of them wasn't sporting nose and ear rings, and numerous gold chains.



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