Oh, Snap! Selfies in Santa Monica

The following was presented at a live Confabulation as part of ‘Me, My Selfie and I.’

I’m paranoid about taking selfies. Taken from the front, my nose looks too big. Angled on the side, my chin looks like Jay Leno. Whether taken on this side or that, up, down, or as far away as I can reach, there is no good angle for me and the selfie. 

I suck at taking selfies—BUT at least I’m alive. 

According to a recent study, more people die from taking selfies than shark attacks. A fact I was happy to share with my mother, who didn’t like it when I moved to Santa Monica for a boy. “You’ll get eaten by a shark!” she said before I left. I hate to admit it, but she was right.

My ex-boyfriend from the golden state, more specifically Brentwood, California, decided he wanted to see me and other people in between a load of laundry on New Year’s Eve. 

Here I was, folding my socks neatly into pairs, and he rolling his into messy balls of twos and threes. What a mess! Deciding I didn’t want to be a part of his disorganized sock drawer and life, I dragged my suitcase back home over the Canadian border, where my mom greeted me with, “that guy was just fishing.” He did catch me with the biggest of bites. There was nothing cliche about our relationship, but it did involve the occasional lightning strike. 

I could just blame it on all the storms in California. Anytime there was a thunderstorm, my ex would go out with his selfie stick and try to capture the moment on film. I mean, looking back at it now, what kind of guy runs during a storm waving a lightning rod? He did and other guys like him, sadly; they died. No, not the boyfriend. He’s still alive, but add a plane, train, or automobile to our journey and we’re even more fortunate than we realise. There’s always going to be someone out there texting while driving, putting banana peels brakes or taking a selfie, which is actually how I met my boyfriend. He was driving a rented Porsche 911 along the 401 and I was driving in my Subaru Crosstrek, then WAM-O, he snapped a selfie and he hit me from behind. 

Upset, we pulled over and got out of our vehicles and as soon as I started taking pictures of all the damage; it became apparent that not only our cars were broken but also our hearts and we were both in need of serious repair. Wanting to fix everything, he insisted he pay and work it out without a third party. I agreed and that same night, after exchanging photos of my rear end and his front parts, we went for dinner. 

It was hard being apart when he later went home, but like any long distance couple, we texted constantly. We even exchanged selfies. So many that when it came to deleting mementos of our relationship, there were a total of 637 selfies. Twenty of which were from me. You may be thinking 637 selfies is a lot, especially over a six-month span. But, in all fairness to him, they came in bursts. 

Brrlurp…one, two, three, fifteen, naked photos later, he’d ask, “Which one do I like best?”  

And now, here’s sixteen (a picture of his Hmm hmm) and seventeen (should you be standing that close to the oven with all that hanging out?).

It’s in moments like these I was grateful to have an iPhone and he an Android. I didn’t have to worry about my blue dot, thinking and thinking. You know, it takes time to come up with something to say other than “that’s nice.” Instead, I replied with a series of emojis and didn’t think much of it. That is until at least 208 selfies later when I met his mother. 

Everything was going great. His mom was great! I thought I made it. A relationship with a serious future, that is, until his mother brought out the baby book. This same guy who was not afraid to send me selfies of his morning coffee was terrified of baby pictures in a little baby book and, despite his dinosaur-like shrieks, his mom opened the book up anyway. 

“Oh, look at him here! Here he is as a baby. Naked in the bath, naked listening to music, naked in the backyard, naked at the beach,” I couldn’t help but laugh because not too much had changed. The bath, the backyard, naked, listening to music. She had one album; I had twenty-six more. And since revenge porn is neither revenge nor pornography, I deleted all of them except for three. 

These three were special. They were our couple photos: one when I first arrived at the Santa Monica pier, the second at Runyon Canyon and the third at the Hollywood sign. We were in love and yes; we were fully dressed, but thinking about the disproportionate number of selfies to couple selfies, this should have been a red flag. And frankly, for him, it should have set off bells too, since selfies kill three times more men than women. 

I was surprised, too, since my Instagram (and his last time I scrolled) is mostly full of women; recipes, relationship advice and bikinis. What I didn’t notice before is that all these photos were not selfies, but instead photos taken by what is known as the InstaHusband. No- not Joseph Gordon-Levitt photoshopped into all my Instagram stories (take that ex-boyfriend). The InstaHusband is rather the partner that takes the perfect photo for us, and if he doesn’t, well, you can always plan a special trip to the Grand Canyon, 2021’s top selfie-death destination. Every year, roughly 12 people snap a little too close to the edge and whoop, there’s a terrible echo. Are you okay down there? There is no mystery about the bad angle of a photo taken from below. Something you’ll learn with time. I also learned even when you scale the highest mountain, and get to the very top you’ll discover just like the world the ground is flat and the Gurkha carrying all your stuff just lapped you.

Life isn’t about likes and follows. It’s not even about capturing the moment. It’s about capturing a feeling. That’s why I went back to the Santa Monica Pier and took my own selfie with waves crashing up behind me. It brings me back to the sea. You see, the best selfies are the ones of me and my friends. How my big chin and nose meet like a slanted comedy chicken beak. With friends who accept you for who you are, I will never have to take a selfie alone again.


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