What’s in a Name?

May 2, 2012

couple

SunFest opens tonight and will run through Sunday. Now celebrating its 30th year, SunFest is the biggest annual cultural event for West Palm Beach and draws visitors from all over the state and beyond and exhibitors from all over the country. It is one of the largest music and arts festivals in the southeast. I was at the first one which started out as a simple arts festival with a few entertainment acts and allowed you to bring your own food and drink. I remember we brought crab something and cold Chablis. Now nothing can be carried in and even bags are inspected for contraband and weapons as you enter. A sign of the times. If you like to eat and drink, an evening at SunFest can easily cost a hundred dollars per person or more but once you are in, you can see any acts you want to wait around for.

Last year I had a rather bad experience at SunFest that still stings. You can read about it here. Fortunately, the afternoon got better after that unfortunate incident. I had a nice conversation with the young couple above. He saw my camera and asked what I was taking pictures of. Of course I told him about @hole but said it was fun otherwise. He said he had thought of bringing his camera but wasn’t sure that you could take photographs freely. He seemed like he had had more than a few beers. But he was a gentle person and not arrogant or aggressive in any way, just friendly and outgoing. That must be why his girlfriend was so patient with him. You could tell she really loved him by the way she looked at him. The thought ran through my mind that that could have been me twenty-five years ago. I tried to recall just how wasted I had ever gotten at SunFest but…I didn’t remember. We talked for several minutes and I took a few shots of them. Then we went our separate ways. I didn’t even ask their names.

This is not the first time I have talked with a stranger at length and not exchanged names. I ran into the rat lady of Lake Worth at the gay pride parade this year and talked to her once again, but did not introduce myself or ask her name. I find myself very interested in other people and their stories, but either I never think to ask, or I feel knowing their name is only a cultural formality. If I knew that the young couple were Scott and Lisa, would it strengthen that momentary relationship we had any more than if I just added those names later on? Would I make a better picture? Would it mean any more to the viewer?

Woman With Pet Rat

TOP: couple, West Palm Beach 2011

ABOVE: rat lady, Lake Worth 2010

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