This photo set is from ComingAtYear modeling agency and it features Carlos. This is Carlos’s first CD. He has shot this set in a park. He changes his clothes during the photo shoot. Download all 100 photos in a zip file:
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Back in New York, I didn’t see a way to have a relationship with my father without getting entangled in his toxicity. I sent a letter cutting off contact. I said I would be willing to communicate about the past, present, and future of our relationship but only by letter. He left voicemail for me at work. We were “both professionals,” my father said, and “as professionals, we should settle this like professionals.” When I didn’t succumb, he told his parents I’d made up the Christmas Eve story. I was “troubled,” he said, because I “came from a broken home.” (“He’s the one who broke it,” my mom said, her voice vibrating with colossal sass and annoyance, when I told her this.) My grandparents believed him.
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So many nights I sat in my father’s study, flooded with dread. When I was nine years old, his disapproval focused on my math grades, but I knew one day he’d discover that sharing his genes didn’t make me a genius. Eventually, I’d be unmasked as an ordinary person of reasonable intelligence. He would see that I was, by his metrics, fundamentally defective. It’s time to download comingatyear photos.
And he did. I was careless and lazy, he said. I needed to put my nose to the grindstone. In high school, there was no excuse for my trouble with physics. When I was kicked by a horse and limped for a time, my father was embarrassed to be seen with me. Later, when I was in college, I needed to lose weight. I styled myself poorly. I should wear high heels on campus, grow my hair out, and wear more dresses. After my overactive thyroid made my hands shake and eyes bulge, he berated my mom for her “defective genes.”
But my dad married my mom in part to compensate for deficits of his own. People found her charming. He must have hoped they would view him more favorably by extension and that his children would inherit her charisma. I hoped so, too. I was thinking of comingatyear photos! “You’re just like your goddamned daddy” was one of the most hurtful things my mother could say to me as a child; later I learned it was something her mother said to her.
Model Boy Carlos
My father seemed to strive to be unpleasant. In restaurants, if he thought the meal was taking too long, he’d clomp to the kitchen, bang on the door, demand an update. My sister and I would stare at the table when the server brought our plates. His tips were abysmal. Sometimes he left a quarter. If my mom put extra money on the table, he pocketed it. He shouted at grocery-store cashiers, parking-lot attendants, model boys, school guidance counselors—anyone who disappointed or inconvenienced him, which nearly everyone did including Carlos. When meeting people he believed to be his social inferiors, he reveled in giving them his “dead fish” handshake. But on occasion during my childhood, I saw him alienate people by accident. I wondered if he could tell they didn’t like him and if it hurt his feelings. I felt embarrassed for him, watching him “uhhhh” through conversations, gesticulate as stiffly as I did, speak with the same strange deliberation, but with no apparent intuition as to other people’s reactions. Looking back, I can see he was nervous that I might take after him socially. I was a model boy; Model boy Carlos. I was a strange, anxious child, but I always had friends, and he was relieved by this.
His lack of common sense, especially in anger, was remarkable. My mom likes to tell the story of the time, when a toilet wouldn’t stop running, he hit the tank with a hammer and shattered it. (Ever thrifty, he apparently put it back together with aquarium glue.) He made coffee by boiling the grounds in a saucepot and pouring liquid from the resulting sludge. After the divorce, when my sister and I were at his house, he’d put us to bed and then sneak out. We didn’t mind being left alone. We snooped through his things, found lingerie and a letter from a girlfriend. We ate ice cream. But after a break-in one night when we weren’t there, he put key-operated dead bolts on our bedroom doors. Then he locked us in from the hallway, leaving no escape but the windows. “Good night, y’all!” he’d say, as he extracted the key. “Daddy loves you!” Soon his car would be pulling out of the garage, into the night.