Friday, August 25, 2006

On The Highway To Hell...


Leon and I became good friends although the relationship started out strictly business. He was managing the portrait studio at Richard's Department Store in downtown Miami, and he needed somebody to shoot some weddings. I honestly can't remember who it was that introduced us to one another about thirty years ago. He lived not too far from me in North Miami, maybe ten blocks away, and when he decided to open his own studio he opened it here in the upscale Sans Souci neighborhood. About ten years later he suddenly decided to move to Texas.

Another North Miami photographer, Mike Hoban, who did a lot of dance photography, and his girlfriend Penny introduced me to Mia, the young lady in the photograph with me. A ballet teacher, she was pretty, personable, and still childless and single at 29. I had two children and joint custody with my ex who was attending medical school at the time. The kids spent a lot of time with me. Instant family! Instant kids! Mia seemed to love it and acted the role of the perfect stepmother. After living together for a year I asked her to marry me. Her dad was a U. S. Air Force colonel, so we got married in the chapel at Homestead Air Force Base with Father Philemon Payiatis, my good friend from the Greek Orthodox Church here in North Miami officiating. Leon shot the photographs, from the engagement shot in this old yellowed newspaper ad, through the ceremony and reception. Mia seemed thrilled, I knew that I was happy, and the kids seemed to love her. Everything was great!

One morning several months later I was sitting in my chair in the living room, smoking a cigarette and sipping my first coffee of the day while reading the morning paper, and suddenly Mia was there, standing in front of me, hands on her hips. As I looked up at her she announced "I just realized something. I don't have to pretend I'm happy anymore! I HAVE a husband!":

I guess that was her goal, a husband before she turned thirty, and she'd achieved it. Now everything changed. No more loving wife, no more doting stepmother, no more delicious home cooked meals...and her dad was moving her stuff out a couple of weeks later. I filed for a divorce. I never saw her again.

A few weeks later one of my clients, a gourmet French restaurant in Bay Harbor Islands, called. Could I run right over (it was 11 PM) and take a few photos? Sure, I said. It was an after the ballet dinner and he wanted some photos shaking hands with Mikhail Baryshnikov for publicity. I got a shot with me shaking his hand also. I asked him if he would please autograph a ballet program. He said "Of course, what should I write?" It ended up saying "Dear Mia, I was so dissapointed that you couldn't attend the ballet tonight or come to the cast party afterwards" over his signature. I mailed that to Mia along with an 8x10 of Mikhail and myself shaking hands. I never heard back from her.

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