Monday, April 20, 2020

The Case of the Missing Middle Child Movies

     Like millions of people all around the world, I’m trying to be productive during these long days of home confinement. I’ve already cleaned out and organized every closet in the house. And reorganized them. Twice. Clearly, I needed another project. So I figured this would be a good time to digitize some of my father’s old home movies. But what started as a fun walk down Memory Lane turned into another Middle Child Nightmare on Elm Street.
     I know that virtually every Middle Child has asked the question, “Where are all the pictures of me?” as they flip through the pages of family photo albums desperately seeking proof they were actually part of the family. My father, for example, created an amazing photo album of my older brother’s first year, taking a picture of him every single one of his first 365 days. For me? Not so much. But what I never knew, until now, was that this lapse of photographic memories had also been adapted for the silver screen. Let me break it down for you.
Lights! Camera! But no Middle Child action.
     As you can probably tell from the labels on each reel, my father was a very detail oriented man. Every foot of film he shot was clearly catalogued. Based on my father’s index, he got a movie camera sometime after my brother’s first birthday, which explains why there’s no coverage of the glorious day. But as you can see below, he was up and rolling by my brother’s second birthday. (That also happens to be the year that I was born. Just sayin'.) So now that my father had a movie camera, surely I would get my chance on my one year birthday -- but he must have been out of film as there’s no record of any footage. Or maybe he figured it wouldn’t be fair to document my one year birthday if he couldn’t document my brother’s. Whatever the case, there is footage of my brother’s third birthday that same year. And his fifth and seventh after that.
     Okay, so there are no home movies of my first birthday. Big deal. I’m sure my second birthday was captured on film. Let me check... crap! I was afraid of that. Nothing. Not a single frame. In fact, it wasn't until I turned six that I finally received my first birthday screen time. WTeffinF!?! I guess by then he figured they had to keep me, but really.

Major motion pictures make it to the screen faster than it took for me to get my home movie birthday break!
(The names have been blurred to protect the favored.)
      Maybe I’m overreacting. I do that sometimes. Let me see when my younger sister got her birthday movie debut. Because if he didn’t bother filming any of my first five birthdays but took movies of hers, well, that would be so.... OH MY GOD. He did! There’s footage of her second birthday party, not to mention her third, fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth!! Wait a second, could it be that I didn't even have a birthday party until I was six years old!?

It looks like everyone got their second birthday filmed.
Well, almost everyone.

        I’ll admit, over the years I have grown accustomed to a whole range of Middle Child indignities (Read “The Birth Denouncement”  and “Tales from the Middle: the Best Worst Seat in the House.”), but being edited out of my own Lifetime movie? Well, this is a new low. And it gets even lower.
     Now remember, my father didn’t have a movie camera when my brother was born, so he couldn’t document the day the new born king came home from the hospital. (He more than made up for it with that photo album, though.) But he did have a movie camera by the time my younger sister and I arrived on the scene, so obviously there’s footage of each of us coming home. And sure enough, there is. OF MY SISTER!
     Interestingly, the footage of my homecoming was... mysteriously damaged. Kind of like those missing minutes from the Nixon Watergate tapes. “Double exposed,” according to my father’s notes. Overlapped by shots of my brother and a dog. And it wasn't even the family dog. We didn't have a dog!! I have to share the screen with some unrelated canine!!! Just an unfortunate accident? I think not! Double exposed my ass!! I’ll tell you what’s been exposed. A vast parental-sibling conspiracy. An insidious plot to further marginalize the Middle Child. It was like I was being social distanced before it was even a thing!

Welcome Home?: You can't make this stuff up!

     Ironically, I will be celebrating another birthday in just a few days. I doubt anyone will be filming it. But it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

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