rapid city III: whither the good ideas

At the end of my last post I promised to tell you about the good idea I had at Mt. Rushmore. I'm not going to tell you yet. I'm listening to Devo, and that's way more fun than going on about an idea that, while fantastic in theory, proved unfeasable and possibly malfeasable in practice. And a little bit humiliating. Yeah, I thought that if I approached people at Mt. Rushmore and asked if I could take their pictures, they would respond enthusiastically. For those with similar ideas, I give you fair warning. This is no way to make friends with strangers.

I made only one attempt. I picked a family who looked friendly enough, approached the mother with my most charming, most dimply face and said something like, "Excuse me, can I take a photo of you and your family in front of Mt. Rushmore?" The woman, barely bothering to make eye contact with me, muttered "No, we've got plenty of photos already, thanks" and tried to slip past. I realized my mistake: this being the United States, it's a fair assumption that any approaching stranger wants to sell you something or hit you up for a donation to fight the Wars on Poverty, Drugs, Terror, Impotence &c. I adopted a different desperate and more disastrous tack. "No, you don't understand. I'm not looking to sell you a photo. I'm... I'm an artist". That was just about the dumbest choice of words I could have come up with. As far as this woman was concerned, I had just lumped myself in with the vast sea of homosexuals, atheists and drug users, along with all the members of that vast alien army of perverts that roam the world. She probably thought I was going to masturbate over a photo of her children as a climax to a ritual goat sacrifice to Karl Marx or Bill Clinton (This Way to Neo-Pagan Communist Orgy Fun!). "No thank you," she repeated. Her family glided past, carefully avoiding eye contact. I'm sure I gave them the best anecdote of their lame vacation: "This little man actually wanted to take our picture! He claimed he was an artist, but I can guess the kind of art he likes to make. He's no Thomas Kincaid, that's for sure!"

I discovered on that sunny afternoon on federal U.S. parkland that I could be a charmless freak. So instead of asking, I simply walked up to people and took their picture without a word of explanation. Nobody called me on it. The pictures turned out great.