Hot Chocolate and Strange Men with Cameras

paperchild courtesy of lovely Bernie

I was having hot chocolate by a street cafe with a friend when I noticed a guy pointing his camera at us. My suspicions told me that he was taking our photos, but my friend brushed it off by saying that we were probably in his line of sight. We continued our conversation, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling.

After a while, he got up and approached our table. He introduced himself, a clean cut man in a gray sweater and a French accent. He was fairly good looking, and had a DSLR camera with him.

“Hello, would you like me to send you these photos I took?”

I looked into his camera, and it was a shot of me, smiling at my friend, with hot chocolate in my hand. The background was blurred in romantic golds and earthy woods. Taken aback, I could only smile. He asked for my number and contact details.

My friend proceeded to banter with him as he showed her more shots on his camera. Apparently he took more photos of me.

I gave him my email.

My first thought was to feel flattered. I often don’t think my face looks like anything special, certainly not something that warrants a photo. To me, my features look plain, or wonky and distorted. But perhaps that is how it is, when you’ve essentially grown up with your own bone structure your whole life, you get so used to your features that nothing about it fazes you. I wonder what strangers see when they look at me.

We shook hands, he left, and I had a small feeling of warmth in my heart. It was just nice to feel appreciated (or what I thought was a form of appreciation) for things you would never notice within yourself. To be appreciated just for sitting in a bustling cafe, by the street, on a cold winter’s night, drinking hot chocolate. To be appreciated, just for being.

However, upon sharing my experience with another friend later on, I realized just how different our perspectives could be. She pointed out that he was possibly a creep, and that his behaviour was uncalled for.

I felt a little silly and naive after that. Now I don’t know if my own self-esteem is so low that I would take a creep taking unsolicited photos of me as a compliment, or if I’m generally too trusting, to my own disadvantage.

I somehow don’t feel too disturbed though. Perhaps I colour my world with rose-tinted glasses half-the-time, and I’m very much aware that I’d be in for a rude awakening once I removed them. Perhaps I was consciously keeping them on.

Do I still want to remove them ? Was I being appreciated or was I being taken advantage of? Does it matter to find out the true motive of this stranger, if it made me feel a little happy inside?

I don’t know. This became a confusing memory for me, with half of it tinged in warmth, and the other half grey and cold.

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