My son was named after Robespierre and has a portrait of Che Guevara, which he drew, over his bed, and he loves the work of photographer Slim Aarons. I didn't know this until this past Christmas, when I received the companion volume to a Slim Aarons compilation I already had. I opened the gift, and he exclaimed, with a fervor atypical for a normally blasé teenager,"I love this guy!"
I was a bit taken aback; after all this was my little revolutionary. When he was living in Germany as an exchange student, for Christmas it was requested I send manifestos by Che, in deutsche of course. Now his new hero's life goal was to"[photograph] attractive people, doing attractive things in attractive places...." Interesting juxtaposition.
Thereafter I often found my Slim Aaron tomes amid a stack of books such as Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary, Beowulf, Seven Plays by Sam Shepard and New Penguin Parallel Text Short Stories in German on his unmade bed. I was happy that he enjoyed them but I admit I was worried that he would rip the beautiful dustcovers. Teen boys don't really care about the dustcovers of coffee table books, just like they don't care about changing their bed linens on a regular basis.
Now he's away at college two thousand miles away and my Slim Aaron books lay neatly in a pile on the living room floor. What a great time in his life. Idealism--both for the Beautiful Life and for a world of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternity--can coexist and maybe even flourish. My son is, as Emily Dickinson wrote, dwelling in possibility. Carpe diem, Max.