Pine Nuts: Art of the selfie |

Pine Nuts: Art of the selfie

My accidental and embarrassing introduction to the self portrait occurred several summers ago while portraying Mark Twain aboard the sternwheeler Tahoe Queen.

An attractive young lady happened to be facing me as she fired off a volley of selfies, changing her expressions and postures with each and every shot. Well, I mistakenly figured she was taking pictures of Mark Twain and assumed she was demonstrating postures she would like him to imitate, some of which no man with any pride would want to imitate, but I did.

I primped, and smoothed my eyebrows and flipped my hair, and did pretty much everything she did, throwing myself into my work.

Passengers there on the second deck started laughing up their sleeves, and I was wondering why, when the attractive young lady focused a laser beam of a stare upon me, and if looks could kill I would not be here to tell about it. She assumed I was mocking her, while everybody on the second deck knew exactly what was going on except her and me. Once I finally figured out what had happened I tried to apologize to her and explain, but she turned her back on me and inserted some earphones.

Since that unfortunate incident I have learned much about the art of the selfie. I don’t take them myself, but I am saddled up to on occasion, and captured by a camera following programs as Mark Twain, so I have had to learn how to smile genuinely with a pipe in my mouth.

To affect a genuine smile I imagine our grandkids gathered in front of me, making funny faces to make me smile, but smiling a genuine smile with a pipe in your mouth is not an easy task. The first dozen times I tried it I smiled out of one side of my mouth, needing the other side to hold the pipe, which made me look like an ax murderer. I later learned to hold the pipe with my teeth so I could smile out of both sides of my mouth, and that has worked well for me, though my teeth are starting to move to accommodate the pipe, and I don’t imagine that is a good thing.

It has been my observation that selfies require people to lean-in, hug each other, and put their heads together, which is a good thing.

Mark Twain gave us some etiquette on getting into heaven that I have been able to update to the 21st century. Twain advised, “When you get up to the Pearly Gates, don’t speak first, let St. Peter speak first. And don’t try to Kodak him, hell is full of people who have tried that.” I merely modernize, “… don’t try to take a selfie with him …” And that brings a smile.

Self portraits are emancipating and teach us to be less self-conscious. Long live the imperfect art of the selfie…

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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