When Marcus Was Cute

I actually was cute, once.

When my parents got married, they got one of those Bell&Howell 8mm cameras, and mom had a Pentax, and they did a lot of pictures. About 5 years ago, they boxed up the old films and sent them to a digital service bureau for scanning, so I got a couple of DVDs of kompromat in the mail. It’s interesting to go back through that stuff and see what triggers memories.

By the way: those of you with aging parents who may start to have problems with dementia – save those movies! They’re important for triggering memories that may be slowly getting shredded. When my grandmother was wandering in the twilit swamp, she used to brighten right up when my parents showed pictures of the grandkids.

Anyhow, I was trolling through some of those because I mentioned to a friend that when I was a child I had “blond aryan hair” and that statement seemed implausible.

So here are some pictures of Marcus when he was cute:

I remember when that was taken. We were painting the shutters at my parents’ friends’ house in France. It was this sort of ugly French Republic blue and my mom put a bit of paint on my nose and my sisters’ and shot pictures of us. You can tell I totally thought that bit of cheesy creativity was not me. And, the 60s/70s outfits were horrible.

Apparently I tended to wander away, so my parents made me wear a red sweater. I recognize the background of that photo – it’s the steps of Low Library at Columbia University in New York. I spent a lot of time on those steps; they were great for galloping up and down.

I read a lot of Asterix comics and sometimes Roman siege machines were featured. I also was really into Ronald Welch’s Knight Crusader series, which led me to read Joinville and Villehardoin’s Chronicles of the Crusades when I was about 13 and my reading-rate was spiking into something ridiculous (2 or 3 novels a day).

I think that was the end of the cute era of Marcus. After around that time I started getting darker and more worldly and playing war games and eventually Dungeons and Dragons which led me to Cthulhu and now I’m a supporter of QAnon. OK, one part of that thumbnail history was a lie.

Here’s one other one. My grandmothers both did a lot of sewing during the depression because that’s what you did: the household sewing machine is where kids’ clothes came from. I was rescued from having to wear feed sacks by a matter of years and the availability of inexpensive fabric when the economy was booming. My grandmother’s answer to kids’ clothes was to make the same thing for me as for my sister. So we matched. How cute. Except that often it was these 1970s-ish jump suits and stuff. I hated them but mostly didn’t care; I just wore them out. What I really wanted to wear was army surplus which, when I got my first weekend/after-school job building burglar alarms for a security company, in 8th grade, I bought lots of. I wore Vietnam-era battle-dress because it was (I still think) super comfy and utilitarian. I went around with all the pockets loaded like a green jungle chipmunk. But by then I was not “cute” I was segueing into “weird.”

Grandma made me a batman costume. I did not like it:

That’s my grandpa, holding me so I could not escape.


  1. Jazzlet says

    I think young Marcus was being very restrained in just clenching his fists, and not using them. The dressing up in specific character costumes thing wasn’t really something that happened much in the UK when I was a kid, unless you were in a school play. We did have some dressing up clothes at home, an old bridesmaids dress with lots of layers of tuile that made a good fairy dress is the only complete garment I remember, the rest was just various lengths of cloth for cloaks or turbans or bandanas or whatever else we came up with, the odd hat and an eyepatch – vital for whoever was to be a pirate captain.

  2. Mano Singham says


    Your post reminded me that my looks peaked at around the age of six and went rapidly down from there. I recall an aunt of mine once looking at me when I was a young adult and saying wistfully, “Mano used to be such a pretty boy”. The fairly clear subtext was “What the hell happened to him?”

  3. bmiller says

    My terror is that i look too much like my dad (as does my younger brother… My sister somehow escaped the curse). Not a good thing. Despite the ferocious exercise regime, my genetics (including male pattern baldness) and addiction to the most pernicious modern drug (refined sugar) mean I will never escape my fate!

    I avoid photography and videos of myself like a vampire avoiding sunlight!

  4. says

    My parents shot reversal film. Every person who ever had parents who shot reversal film will now sigh at the memory of long, long reversal film nights. At our house they usually ended with my parents getting into a fight about where that particular pic was taken and then not speaking to each other anymore for the rest of the night. Because obviously the question whether that particular fountain is located in French Village sur French river or French village sous French river is very important. I learned a lot about interpersonal conflict in relationships from them. Mostly how not to do it.
    Back to the pics, this means there aren’t many paper pics of me around, but my dad did digitise his collection. He and his brother bought an automatic scanner together when they noticed that reversal film was on its way out and they had huge collections of them around.
    Hair colour change in kids is interesting. Several members of both my and my husband’s family apparently started out blond. Not me, I mostly started out bald. My kids started out at the opposite ends (almost black and light blond) and are now getting closer and closer.
    You really were cute back then.
    Let me see if I can dig up my first day of school pic.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    Anyhow, I was trolling through some of those because I mentioned to a friend that when I was a child I had “blond aryan hair” and that statement seemed implausible.

    This is a reasonably common thing. I also had blond hair at that age, and it darkened throughout the rest of my life, unit it started turning gray. I know others of Western European genetic heritage who experienced this. I have a vague recollection of a Jane Austen character who kept her blonde hair until she was thirty, but the specifics escape me at present.

    After around that time I started getting darker…

    Double entendre noted.

  6. says

    The first picture reminds me of Dennis the Menace. Man I am getting old.

    I heard a certain amount of “Marcus The Menace” from my parents. I took it with good grace and did not let it interfere with my plans for global conquest.

  7. cjheery says

    I don’t know mjr, but that photo of you with the SECURITY poster where you are cutting the cable to the computer you were pretty damn cute.

Leave a Reply