Monday, February 7, 2011

Mystery Man

I can spin a thought in my head from complete paranoia to utter fantasy in a minute flat.  Much of my greatest daydreaming is done under the cover of darkness.  To be honest, it’s done under the cover of my sheets in the middle of the night when I’m wide awake and can’t sleep.  Last night was another one of those nights.  While lying awake I found myself aimlessly staring at the bedroom door, where the hallway light cast a glow on a photo hanging in the corner of my bedroom.  Ten years ago while passing through some tiny southern town, like many in the South this place had died a long time ago, C and I spotted an antique store.  Actually, it was a junk store misrepresenting itself as an antique store.  I don’t remember finding anything of interest in the store, except for some reason I felt compelled to buy this old photograph.  I’ve always been intrigued by old sepia images. 

For years I hauled around a large black and white photo of a ballroom filled with a bunch of men in tuxedos.  There was nothing important about it, except I thought I found the people interesting.  After years of collecting dust and upon closer inspection, I realized that all the men were ugly and I sold it in a yard sale.  But, there was something different about this photo and I wanted to know the story behind it.  Why was that dog sitting on a table? Who was that guy? I was intrigued by his clothes.  His face seemed strangely modern. Where was that house?  Why was the photo taken?  And how did it end up in a junk store in a tiny lost town in central Georgia?  I'll probably never know, but I could create my own story around my Mystery Man. 

I see a numerologist.  Actually, I’ve never seen her.  She’s in LA and I just call her and she reads my chart and cards over the phone.  That’s been going on for 15 years.  Don’t judge - it works for me!  Anyway, she told me once that I’d get everything in this life I want, but I would have to work really hard for it because in my last life things came too easily for me.  Which is somewhat depressing, but there’s not much I can do about it now.  I think my Mystery Man is attractive and clearly privileged.  Things probably came easily for him.  We share the same hairline (or lack of it) and I really like how he’s dressed.  In fact I just might start dressing like that myself.  So, maybe this is a photo of me in a past life, maybe that’s why I was drawn to it. 

Not being an expert on period photographs I’m guessing it was taken in the early 20th century, probably sometime during the 1920’s, a time that has always captured my imagination.  The house is obviously Tudor inspired.  It could have been taken in Atlanta, which might explain why the photo was found in Georgia. Tudor style mansions were a favorite design along
Peachtree Street
and other upscale neighborhoods during that era.  But, that’s just not exotic enough for me and it just doesn’t feel right.  Besides the house looks old in the photo, and not a newly built structure which would have been the case in Atlanta at that time.  So, I’ve never considered Atlanta as a viable option.

My next idea is that it’s the home of a wealthy industrialist and my Mystery Man is the debonair son of an oil or steel baron and the house is located in one of the more prestigious neighborhoods of Boston or Philadelphia.  He’s just come in from an afternoon drive from the city in his new roadster and the family terrier met the car in the gravel drive. Rover hopped up on the table to be close to his master. This version doesn’t quite explain why there would be a photographer waiting, but I’ll figure out that detail during another sleepless night. 

Then there’s the Great Gatsby version based on one of my all time favorite movies.  In this version Mystery Man has just taken a breather after an exciting afternoon of Polo before changing for the formal dinner he’s about to host.  He’s waiting for the butler to bring him a Gin Gimlet.  Rover is sitting on the table because that’s been his vantage point of the Polo field since he was a puppy.  The horses scare him.  The photographer was on site to capture the game for the local East Hampton society column and just happened to snap the picture while he and Mystery Man waited for their drinks.

If you don’t like that one, there’s the Ireland story.  I believe there were lots of Irish people who settled in the south.  My maternal grandmother had some Irish roots, I think.  Beside Scarlet O’Hara was of Irish decent, so that proves it. The photo made its way to the junk (sorry Antique shop) from the estate remains of an old southern family after the last matriarch died off.  The photo is of the matriarch’s bachelor uncle when he visited the family ancestral home in Ireland during one of his many grand European tours.  He had just come in from a day of fox hunting and was waiting for the cooks to prepare a lunch of mutton and potatoes.  Rover, whose job it was to root out varmints on the estate, took an instant liking to Mystery Man and never left his side for the duration of the stay. 

This morning I took the photo off the wall to scan it for the blog.  This meant I would have to remove it from its frame.  The frame is a small nondescript wood frame.  It appears to have been silver leafed, but just a little of the luster remains making the frame a beautiful worn gray.  My mind started racing.  My numerologist also told me I was extremely intuitive and had a tremendous amount of untapped psychic ability and in my past life this was something that I nurtured.  Maybe he was leaving me a message! Maybe there was a name or date on the back of the photo.  Even better maybe there was a note from my Mystery Man leaving me the number for an old bank account were he hid all his cash before the market crashed in the 20’s.  Maybe there was an originally copy of the Gettysburg Address or Declaration of Independence, that happens all the time!

So I carefully remove the old rusted braids from the back of the frame.  Half the braids broke off telling me that the photograph had never been removed.  Then I slide out the cardboard backing revealing the back of the photo and low and behold…there was nothing but an Eastman Kodak logo.  No personnel note, no bank account, and no original historical document.

But the address on the Eastman Kodak logo is noted as Philadelphia, so one of my stories just might have some merit to it.

It’s probably for the best that I never know who he/I really were.  If I knew the real story, I might not like him/us as much.  My version(s) are probably much better.


  1. What a great read! Loved all your imaginings of the various lives. Maybe somebody, somewhere, will run across this photo on your blog and have something to add. Really like how this gentleman cuffed his socks too.

  2. Very great ideas, thoughts, and dreams. I hope you are having a marvelous Wednesday!
    Happy dreaming,


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...