People carrying new video cameras should be labeled armed and dangerous

June 27, 1996|By Kevin Cowherd

NOT LONG AGO, I was sitting in a restaurant with an old friend and his very pregnant wife when the man said to me: "Did I tell you we're videotaping the birth of our child?"

I waited for his wife to crack him over the skull with the pepper grinder and say: "Over my dead body, sport."

But instead she flashed this eerie, Kathie Lee Gifford-on-hashish smile and chirped: "Yes, it'll be so exciting!"

And I thought: Can you believe this? My social life has declined to such an extent that I'm actually sitting in a cheap Mexican joint with a couple of nuts who view childbirth not as a wonderfully sacred experience to be savored quietly, but as a chance to fiddle with zoom lenses and make goofy faces at the camera.

And, hey, as a woman is lying there in the final throes of labor, huffing and puffing with a baby the size of a watermelon inching its way through a birth canal with the circumference of a garden hose, does she really want to hear her husband say: "C'mon, honey, give us a big smile over here!?"

Anyway, the conversation left me badly shaken and I began windmilling my arm for another margarita.

Which is when my buddy said: "Yeah, we just got a video camera from Sherry's parents. Might as well use it, right?"

This only confirmed the theory I've promoted for years: There's nothing more annoying than someone with a new video camera.

People with new video cameras suddenly feel compelled to chronicle every single event in their lives, no matter how private or dull and insignificant, as well as every single event in the lives of their children, friends, dogs, etc.

For weeks they'll be poking the video camera in everyone's face and saying stupid things like: "Tell me what you're feeling right now" and"Honey, open the shower door and act surprisedto see me."

If the incident in the restaurant was disturbing, so was an event a few days later when I took my 5-year-old to a birthday party at his friend's house.

On the surface, everything looked fine. There were balloons hanging everywhere and a big cake and all sorts of games set up for the kids to play.

Then I saw it: the dad was wielding a video camera. And judging from the box next to him, it was a brand new video camera, too.

"God, we're all doomed," I remember thinking, and then the guy was on me, introducing himself and pumping my hand about 40 times.

(That's another thing about annoying people: they always shake your hand too long. It seems to me you should only shake a person's hand three or four times, tops.

(But people who are annoying, they never want to let go of your hand. I guess it's part of what makes them so annoying.)

Anyway, after we shook hands for what seemed like three weeks, I had to listen to him tell me about all the neat features on his new video camera.

"Look, it fits in the palm of your hand!" he said at one point.

I felt like pointing out that a tangerine fits in the palm of your hand, too. And that was no big deal, either.

Sure enough, as soon as the party started, the dad started pestering the hell out of everyone.

Everywhere the kids went, he was right in their faces with the camera, barking: "OK, Timmy, turn to me when you pin the tail on the donkey" and "Don't blow out the candles yet, buddy. I want to get a good shot of the cake."

The thing I kept thinking was: If he's driving other kids nuts with his video camera, you can imagine what he does to his own kids.

Years from now, I see his kids sneaking into his bedroom at 2 in the morning with a can of Sunoco 190 and a book of matches.

And you know what? No jury in the land would convict those kids.

At the trial, all they'd have to do is take the stand and tell the truth: "He . . . he used to follow us around all the time with that stupid video camera. I mean, all the time.

"It was always: 'Hey, buddy look over here!' or 'OK, now walk over to the Christmas tree and pick up your presents!' We just couldn't take it anymore."

At this point, the jury foreperson would pop to his or her feet and say: "Your Honor, there's no need to prolong this. We find the defendants not guilty."

You talk about a sure thing. That would be it.

Pub Date: 6/27/96

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