You and your sister are trying not to look like tourists as you stroll down Melrose Avenue, toward the Urth Caffe. The Southern California sun has made you thirsty, and you are approaching a prime celebrity watering hole. Scanning the sidewalk crowd, you wonder: is that Robert Pattinson smoking at one of the sidewalk tables? Could the petite blond be Reese Witherspoon ordering a post-yoga smoothie? 

And then, from a few feet behind, you hear, “Wait. Stop a second. Let me just take a quick photo.” You are caught in the hunter’s cross hairs.

Rolling your heavily-lined eyes, you pause, pivot a slimming quarter turn, tilt your head just so, and smile for the camera — but not with your eyes, as Tyra Banks of America’s Next Top Model would be quick to detect. It’s hard to shake Mamarazzi.

No one can embarrass you like your mother, especially when she’s armed with a digital SLR, stalking you like a celebrity.

In Los Angeles with my two teenage daughters over spring break, I am cast as “Mamarazzi.” A member of the troupe’s supporting cast, I carry the credit cards, the keys to the rental car, and the camera. Truth be told, sometimes I embarrass myself with the ferocity of my need to preserve these moments in pixels. 

Seeing my girls toss their heads in laughter as they stride ahead on the sidewalk triggers a primal urge to freeze-frame every fleeting moment of youth and sun.

Later, we are outside the Getty Museum, taking in its magnificent gardens, when my camera battery dies. I experience a moment of raw panic as I realize that the rest of this glorious afternoon will pass unrecorded.

Two of my three children are away at colleges across several time zones and, strangely, it is when we are together that I miss them most intensely. Their physical presence compels me to document obsessively, as if the scattered pieces of our family jigsaw can be reassembled in jpeg images.

Aware that it’s a futile pursuit, I persist in the thankless role of Mamarazzi, knowing that they will thank me, once they reprise the role in the sequel opposite their own offspring. “Mamarazzi II: Coming to theaters near you in 2025.”


Before the Battery Died



1 Response to “Mamarazzi”

  1. 1 Betsy Munnell October 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Oh my. How true this is. As Jarvis remarks on occasion when I am scurrying about looking for the camera: “Let no spontaneous moment go unrecorded…”

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