404 My Family Posed for One of the Most Awkward Family Pics Ever | The Chronicles of Rico
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In 1986, My Family Posed for What Turned Out to be One of the Most Awkward Family Pics Ever

So Christmas came and went…like 3 months ago. While doing my Christmas shopping this year, I noticed in the “Christmas cards” section that there seems to be a fad of “awkward family photos” that grace the covers of various cards, whether it be Christmas cards, wedding cards, birthday cards, whatever. Every time I noticed these cards, I stopped and looked at them for a while and kind of chuckled to myself, for some of them are pretty funny. However, I couldn’t help, but simultaneously think to myself, “yeah, these toolbots in these photos have nothing on my family when it comes to having a horrendously awkward family portrait taken of them.”


And I meant it. You wouldn’t believe how ridiculous my family’s 1986 family portrait turned out.  You ready for it??? WHOOMP, HERE IT IS:


awkward family portrait

The Swafford Family Portrait of 1986.


Well shit…


In the front and to the left is my brother, Justin. I believe he was 1 year old or so when this photo was taken. In the front and to the right is me. I believe I was in the 3-4 year old range at the time. In the back are my parents.


Now, this family portrait turned out weird to the point where it is pretty freaking hilarious.


To start, my mom. She looks pretty normal, for the most part. She does look like she was making a very strong effort to maintain that smile she has on her face. This is probably because she had been keeping that smile on her face for freaking ever because we, as a family (especially me), weren’t doing her any favors in terms of posing in acceptable fashion. Her mouth muscles were probably getting tired. Also, she does have a bit of a female mullet, also known as the “chicklet cut.” You gotta give her a pass on that though. This pic was taken in 1986. I think 1986 was around the time where mullets became cool. To my younger readers out there, think about that for a few seconds. Mullets, once upon a time, literally were cool…and I think my mom’s “chicklet” cut may have actually been a bit ahead of her time when that pic was taken.


Then there is my dad. Ol’ Marky Mark and his funky bunch. If you are a parent of a young child in this day and age and saw that mustached man walking down the street, you’d probably advise your child to not get within a mile of him. If you are a porn industry executive, you may feel inclined to approach this man and say, “hey man, how big is your penis?” However, it is 2014 now…this pic was taken in 1986. Times have changed. What is now considered a pedo-stache or a porn-stache, was considered pretty bad ass in 1986. For realzies. Hell, Tom Selleck who starred in the television show, Magnum P.I. was a freaking sex-symbol in that era. And one of his trademarks that defined him was that mustache of his that I think he still rocks out to this day. Hell, my grandma still insists that the ultra masculine Tom Selleck from “Magnum P.I.” is the sexiest man who she has ever seen grace this planet. My dad gets a pass in this one, for this was 1986…his mustache was acceptable back then.


Then there is my brother, Justin. He is the smiling, 1-2 year old baby. Hell, he gets a pass.  Until I was 11 years old or so, I was totally jealous of my younger bro and all the attention he received for being so perfect, cute and awesome at everything he ever attempted to do. Jealousy aside though, deep down, I knew he was one of the cutest babies ever. Not to mention, he was always a multi-talented kid and I was proud of that. I was proud that he was my little brother and still am. Don’t be mistaken though…at that age, I couldn’t stand him…he stole my little spotlight.


The only scenario I can imagine of an individual not approving of my brother in this pic, would be if the individual, for some odd reason, had some sort of vendetta against baby orangutans. Because that’s always what Justin reminded me of when he was a baby…a baby orangutan.


orangutan young smile


Now, if that little shit doesn’t resemble my brother in the family pic, I don’t know what does. Too cute.


Baby orangutans are fucking awesome and so was (is) Justin. If you hate baby orangutans, you are a douche-basket. Justin gets a pass.


Then there’s me. Good….God.  In this picture, I am the poster boy for “mouth-breather.” The absolute epitome of “mouth-breather.” And to boot, I had a haircut that resembled a helmet that Speed Racer would use (that’s my mom’s fault).  Ironically enough, the term, “mouth-breather,” has become one of my favorite terms to use and I usually use that term to describe people who I consider to be total dumbasses. Therefore, if I = mouth-breather and mouth-breather = total dumb ass then I = a 3-4 year old, total dumbass mouth-breather in that pic. I realize it is in bad taste to harshly criticize a 3-4 year old kid like that, but come on…this is my dumb, mouth-breathing ass we’re talking about. Plus, just look at the picture. There is no excuse for basically photo-bombing your own family’s family portrait in that manner via excess breathing from the mouth. And if there is an excuse, how do I explain myself.  Well… I don’t really know, but I’m going to try.


To start, from the fragments of memory I have of this family portrait being taken, I was scared shitless when this photo was shot. I remember being instantly frightened the moment I sat down and saw the camera. For those of you who don’t know, back in the 80’s, the cameras used to take studio pictures were freaking huge. Or at least, it seemed that way to me back then. Maybe it was the stand that was used to prop the camera combined with the camera itself. Who knows. All I know is that when I saw that camera, I was immediately thrown off because of how much it resembled that robot from the “Short Circuit” movie previews.

80s robot movie


The robot from the movie, “Short Circuit” scared the crap out of me when I was around that age and given the cunning resemblance it shared with this camera that I was ordered to smile at, it’s fair to say that the camera and I did not get off to a very good start. The sight of the camera itself initiated my facial expression to make the transition from casual, to serious and wide-eyed. I wasn’t quite breathin’ out the mouth yet though…


Moments later, the photographer arranged us in to our designated positions for the photo. As I sat there in front of my mom wondering to myself if this robot looking thing was going to extend it’s arms and attack me, the photographer encouraged us to smile and SNAP, the first shot was taken. The flash from that camera was downright painful. I mean, I felt like I couldn’t even see for at least 10-15 seconds after the photo was snapped. It hurt and made me even more scared than I already was.


The photographer said something along the lines of, “we need to take a couple more shots because I want you ALL to be smiling. The older boy needs to smile.” This was devastating, for at that moment I wanted to run away and when I began kind of making a pitiful effort to do so, my dad immediately yelped, “Joshua, stop being a pansy-assed dingle-berry and sit down and smile for the family!” As my dad yelped this at me, my vision was slowly beginning to come back, but only in the middle of my visual field. In other words, all I could see was a circle of whatever my eyes were focused on, and this circle was surrounded by a substantial amount of vision-blurring fuzz. With that said, the only thing I could actually see when my dad told me this, was his mouth region, which sucked because back then, my dad’s mustache used to remind me of  a couple of hairy caterpillars I’d find while playing in our back yard. So in a way, it kind of seemed like I was being told to “stop being a pansy-assed dingle-berry and smile” by a couple of hairy freakin’ caterpillars. At this point, my mouth officially opened… wasn’t quite breathing from it yet, though.


Suddenly, the photographer said, “smile!” and SNAP! The second shot was taken and the pain in my eyes from the flash had doubled. The photographer unenthusiastically said, “we didn’t get a smile out of the older boy.”


My dad, a man who has never been known for his patience began getting frustrated with me at this point and in annoyed tone said, “smile, dumbass!” I could only see his mouth and his mustache and in my imaginative 3-4 year old mind, I could have sworn those mustache caterpillars grew Roy Scheider/Chief Brody faces from the movie, “Jaws” and angrily yelled at me:


smile son of bitch


“Oh great, so not only am I getting barked at by my dad, but the freaking caterpillars are talking shit too,” I thought to myself.


I can’t accurately describe the state of mind I was in at that time. I was frightened….I was confused….I was in pain from the camera flashes…I was mortified…I was befuddled.  I KNOW!!! I WAS:


stupid kid


I was totally…befuddlefucked.  If that isn’t an actual word, then well, it should be…because that is the only way I can describe the state of mind my 3-4 year old self was in at that moment.


My mouth opened even wider and I was officially breathing from it. And all the while, my perfect baby brother was smiling, having the time of his life like a baby orangutan.


Seconds later, the photographer advised us to smile again and abruptly snapped the photo. Immediately afterwards, she said, “well, I think that is the best we are going to be able to do.” The end result = the infamous family portrait.


So that explains why I appeared so befuddlefucked in that family photo. It was a combination of; the camera resembling the “Short Circuit” robot, the flashes from the camera burning my eyes, my dad’s frustration, the caterpillars from my dad’s mustache chiming in and having to experience this 3 consecutive times.  It was horrifying…and painful.



mullet family portrait

At least I’m not alone. The mullet man’s family has taken some doozy family portraits as well. Not that I am in good company or anything, but still.


BTW: I am thinking about renaming the mullet man. I think I am going to rename him Rick Dickulous. I think that has a better ring to it.