Bistro Vivienne, 2006
The American woman is sitting in a café in Paris with a cigarette tucked between her fingers and an empty glass in front of her. With an odd expression on her face, she seems totally lost in thought, oblivious to the photographer’s presence.
Finally she looks up. “What do you want?”
“You’re beautiful. I want to make a portrait of you.”
“What are you, some kind of creep?” she asks, crushing the cigarette out in the ashtray.
“I just want to photograph you. You’re beautiful. I want other people to enjoy your beauty.”
“What’s your name?”
“Chappy Ptoole Syrigian.”
“What the hell kind of name is that? Put that camera down. I want to know more about you.”
“It’s originally Turkish. But you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it. You don’t have the right sounds in your alphabet to do it.”
“How do you spell ‘Ptoole’?”
“Just like it sounds,” and he spells it out for her.
“Sounds like you came up short when they were passing out names, eh?”
“Say what you want. It’s a name associated with monarchs in the old country.”
“So you’re trying to tell me you’re some kind of royalty? Is that why you’re wearing that funny scarf? What is it, an ascot to go with that fancy suit of yours?”
“It’s a foulard. I wear it as a sign of repentance.”
“Looks more like something you’d wear in a harem, if you ask me. What are you repenting?”
“You don’t need to know.”
“You’re pretty trigger happy with that camera for someone who wants to get up close, but who doesn’t think I need to know much about you.”
“You’re right. And up close you’re not so beautiful.”
n.b. The first paragraph was inspired by a description of a photograph by Graciela Iturbide in the Summer 2010 issue of Aperture.