Skipping ahead to the part about the cameras.

August 7, 2009

Smile! You’re on Candid Camera. And CCTV. And video. And digital. And pxt. And YouTube.

Well, you get the picture. Because, face it, you’re in the picture. Big Brother is not only watching us. He’s pretty much staring.

Viking Woman has always advised her healthcare workmates to conduct their duties as if they were being filmed. These days, chances are good that they are.

New Zealand is too small of a country to produce a lot of high-quality TV and so we are treated to imports from the U.S., the UK, and Australia. What New Zealand does do well is reality shows (although Island Wars is such a pale imitation of Survivor as to be practically invisible). Most of these are aimed at protecting consumers from being ripped off in a time when every dollar is precious.

The Hidden Camera segments are always revealing, in more ways than one. This usually involves an actress inviting various tradespeople into a house wired with cameras so we can surreptitiously observe how well the contractors work. Or not.

Inevitably, one of the males ends up in the actress’s bedroom and/or laundry and is soon seen rifling through her underwear, holding it up to exam or, in one  case, pulling a pair out of the dryer and sniffing it (because he liked the smell of fabric softener?).

These images are, of course, accompanied by the predictable screeching condemnation-slash-indignation of the (usually female) commentator.

In these scenes, the panty sniffer’s face is pixilated but his clothes aren’t, meaning he can be easily identified by anyone who knows him. Not too sure I’d want to be eating my dinner in the lounge with the missus when scenes of my nasal naughtiness were suddenly flashed across the nation’s TV screens.

I, for one, know I’m being watched. While waiting in line at a bank, I will often seek out the specific camera focussed on my position. When I’m browsing an electronics store, I tend to hunt down the camera that is broadcasting my thinning crown to the assembled crowd of shoppers.

Las Vegas, of course, is a nest of video vipers. The casinos will tell you they are watching their own employees, lest a card dealer pull from the bottom of the deck or tuck a stray twenty into a cuff.

Regardless, I’m always a bit nervous when I’m in the pit. I have no idea how the likes of craps is played and would love to stand and watch a few games to educate myself. But I don’t know the protocol with this. Do I look  suspicious? Like a pickpocket? Like someone counting cards and blinking twice when the queens are all played?

I have this fear of being tapped on the shoulder, asked to step into an office, having a burlap bag that smells of hundred dollar bills pulled over my head, and being bundled into the trunk of one of those Chrysler 300s with blacked-out windows. Followed by a long drive into the desert, a short, sharp crack of a handgun and, oh look, the coyotes have a free meal, courtesy of my curiosity.

Which pretty much explains why I don’t gamble. Or, when I do, I stay with the mauve-rinse crowd in the penny-slot area.

Are there cameras in other parts of these hotel/casino complexes? Oh God, I hope not.

During one family stay at The Luxor, we all went to the Tournament of Kings dinner show at Excalibur. The entertainment included a “little person” dressed as a joker, who skipped through the proceedings.

It had been years since any of us had occasion to skip and so, later, while gathering outside the elevator shaft back  at The Luxor, we challenged each other to see if our bodies could remember how to do it (I’d had a similar experience as an adult trying to do a somersault, with disastrous results — as I knelt on the ground, I realized that my muscle memory had actually forgotten how to roll forward).

My sisters had once been dancers and so such movements came easily to them. As for me, well let’s just say I didn’t take dance lessons. It was ugly, it was clumsy, it was hopeless. It was downright embarrassing to think a grown man could no longer will his body to skip.

Or maybe it was embarrassing because a grown man actually thought skipping was a good idea.

Was my effort caught on camera in the hotel? I’m thinking no, because surely anyone watching live would have dialed 9-1-1 immediately and reported a guest suffering convulsions while his family stood there peeing themselves with laughter.

If Big Brother was indeed watching me, I’m guessing he was also wetting himself.

Next time, the duck walk. Coming soon to a website near you.

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