Found Po­laroids

Geist - - Findings - KYLER ZE­LENY

From Found Po­laroids, sto­ries from the Found Po­laroid Project, a col­lec­tion of Po­laroid pho­to­graphs paired with short sto­ries. Pub­lished by Aint-bad in 2017. Kyler Ze­leny is a Cana­dian pho­tog­ra­pher-re­searcher and cre­ator of the Found Po­laroids Project. He is a doc­toral can­di­date in the joint Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Cul­ture pro­gram at Ry­er­son and York Univer­sity. He lives in Toronto.


I don’t buy jew­elry for my wife. My wife wants me to pho­to­graph her. She likes when I pho­to­graph her in wa­ter. My wife, when we went to Morocco, she said it was one of the best hol­i­days we’d had to­gether. And I agreed—it was sunny and it was lovely. My wife bought a vel­vetish swim­suit in Morocco, with pat­terns of but­ter­flies, blue and green. She said it was one of her favourite swim­suits when we got back. As we were un­pack­ing she said I re­ally like that pho­to­graph you took of me in the wa­ter. I nod­ded, it was a lovely pho­to­graph. Later I gave it to her and I wrote a note on the back of it. My wife, she’s happy. When we got back from Morocco she bought tagines and spices. She said she wanted to cook new things. She said, “do you like lamb? I’d like to cook some lamb for you.” So I said I like lamb and I don’t re­ally know that I do. My wife, she bought a lit­tle cook­book with recipes in it, it’s got some re­ally nice ori­en­tal pat­terns on it. She sits on the sofa and she puts her glasses on. They’re scaled in hues of green and blue. She sits by the lamp. My wife, she places the book be­tween her thighs, and re­li­giously licks her fin­ger be­fore she flicks each page. And when she’s picked one she likes she slips the pho­to­graph in as a book­mark. “This way I see it all the time,” she said.


So ob­vi­ously the chem­istry home­work was never gonna get done. I cer­tainly knew that from the get-go, and I think Sarah prob­a­bly did too be­cause all she brought over with her was a pen­cil and pa­per, no text­book or notes or any­thing. And no one could do one of Mr. Han­ford’s prob­lem sets with­out the text­book.

Be­fore we’d even sat down she said “why don’t you put on some music?” and I knew she meant this as a test to see if I liked good music, so I put on Ru­mours, which I hoped was my coolest record. “Oooooooooh,” she cooed as “Sec­ond Hand News” started, but I sat down at my bed­room desk be­side her with­out say­ing any­thing—with cool peo­ple like Sarah, you can’t let them know you care about their ap­proval. We had got­ten nowhere on the home­work by the time “Go Your Own Way” came on, and when it did Sarah to­tally came alive, she started kinda squirm­ing in her seat, like half-danc­ing, and then I knew she also knew why she was here, and that it was ok, bet­ter than ok, it was great. She got more into it as the song went on, even do­ing the part where Lind­sey Buck­ing­ham echoes “Go Your Ooooooown Waaaaaay” by him­self, and then we were both danc­ing around my room.

I looked at her and she looked back at me, but I looked for too long, so I picked up my cam­era from my dresser and took a picture of her danc­ing, but then she took the cam­era out of my hands and put it on the desk and looked right at me and put her hands on my cheeks and kissed me, and wow was she a good kisser, way bet­ter than any of the boys I’d kissed. We kissed un­til the record needed to be flipped over; she needed to go, she had to pick her brother up from base­ball prac­tice. We kind of smiled at each other and kissed once more, just a quick peck, and then she opened the bed­room door and left.


The first ring, I re­move my faded blue t-shirt. The sec­ond ring, I take off my brand new Nike shoes. The third ring, I re­move my dirty socks. The fourth ring, I un­but­ton and wig­gle out of my dark wash Levi’s jeans. The fifth ring, I jump onto my bed wear­ing only a red speedo. The sixth ring, I pick up the phone and sit in a se­duc­tive pose.

“Hello,” I say in a deep and con­fi­dent yet mys­te­ri­ous voice.

“Hello,” the per­son on the other side re­sponds shyly. “I’ve never done this be­fore.”

“Tell me what­ever you want,” I say very slowly.

The con­ver­sa­tion be­gins in­no­cently, but quickly heats up. While the di­a­logue starts to get steamy, I find my­self feel­ing a bit cold. I look down at my arm and no­tice goose bumps. I touch my nip­ples and feel them be­gin to harden. I look down at my red speedo and draw the waist­band from my body, only to no­tice my bulge is shrink­ing. It is get­ting un­com­fort­ably cold. “Are you still there?”

“I wouldn’t leave you in the mid­dle of this arous­ing story,” I say.

I look on the floor, where my t-shirt and Levi’s lay. I wish I could put them on. I sit in my speedo to feel the part. If the per­son on the phone asks “what are you wear­ing?” I don’t want to lie and cre­ate a false im­age in their mind that they cher­ish on those lonely nights.

Some­times you need to suck it up and do your job. It’s how the bills get paid, the fridge gets re­stocked and how a roof stays over your head. These are the strug­gles of a phone sex op­er­a­tor.

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