Sunday, February 14, 2010

1, 2, 3, 4 Tell Me That You Love Me More

I have always loved photobooths. Something about stuffing yourself into a tiny space with loved ones and taking away a strip of instant memorabilia makes the romantic in me swoon. Growing up, my parents had some old photobooth pictures scattered throughout their many albums, and I loved looking at them. Four individual images, all connected, all pieces of the same moment captured in time. They seemed so much better than regular pictures... so much more magical.

One of the many sweet surprises of getting to know Jeff was learning that he also loves photobooths. We never happened upon one in the first few years of dating, but when we got engaged, we decided to use a photobooth to announce our impending wedding. We went to Lakeside Lounge, a bar on Avenue B in Manhattan, and nailed it on the first try.

I didn't have a "theme" for the wedding at the time (except for "fucking awesome," obviously), and one day while perusing a bridal magazine I learned that it was possible to rent photobooths for events. And oh, it was on. The photobooth was a huge hit and we got a rockin' album with snapshots of all of our family and friends from the reception.

Since then, every time time we've stumbled upon a photobooth we've dutifully jumped at the opportunity to make this our "thing."

A month or two after we got married we found one at a bar in Williamsburgh (which we have since forgotten the name and location of):

And then in October of 2008, in California for the wedding weekend of my best friend Anna, we passed by an arcade at the Santa Monica pier and saw one:

We haven't accidentally found another one since, which brings us to the present day. A week ago, Jeff hatched a brilliant plan: in honor of Valentine's Day, we would embark on a bar crawl, hitting as many photobooths as possible. This, of course, made my heart leap up and do a Gene Kelly dance number, probably wearing a sailor suit. Jeff looked up photobooth sites online and made a list of eight locations. He picked me up at 8 in Hell's Kitchen, where I had been covering a fashion show, looking dapper in a suit and tie. I had not planned ahead; because I spent the day going to Fashion Week events and blogging, I was A) wearing incredibly uncomfortable stack-heeled boots (in an attempt to fit in with the fabulous people) and B) carrying my laptop, which over the course of the day seemed to get heavier and heavier until it weighed approximately 40 pounds. Nevertheless, we soldiered on.

Our first stop was for dinner at Trailer Park, which is, as its name suggests, a fun and trashy little diner that serves things like Tater Tots and mac n' cheese. It has a photobooth but Jeff had heard that it was no longer working. Sadly the rumor was true. We ordered beers (for Jeff) and vodka cranberries (for me) and feasted on Taters until we were sated. Seriously, look at the size of this "side order":

Fuck roses. This right here? This is love.

So destination #1 was a bust for photobooths but a win for delicious Tots. Doggie bag in hand, we headed to location #2, the lobby of the Ace Hotel on 29th Street. On the way we had the following conversation:

ME: I'm so glad I took the Tater Tots with me. I feel they're going to come in handy later, like when in a movie there's a gun somewhere and it seems like no big deal but then later the hero has to shoot someone.
JEFF: Are you going to fight someone with Tots?
ME: No, but later when I'm drunk I'll get pukey and then I'll be like, Oh! Tater Tots! And it will be the best thing ever.
JEFF: And then you'll get more pukey.
ME: But it will be worth it.

By the time we arrived at the hotel I was hobbling in pain (and being kind of a pain in the ass about it, though my darling husband took it in stride). Sadly, as soon as we opened the front door we were confronted by a woman with a clipboard who asked us if we were here for "the party." "Uh, no," Jeff said. "Are you guests at the hotel?" she asked. We said no. "Sorry, the entire hotel is closed for a party," she told us. "Even the lobby?" Jeff asked. Apparently, yes. In the words of Cher Horowitz, we were brutally rebuffed! 0 for 2, we hailed a cab to the Lower East Side hoping we would have better luck.

And we did! Our first stop, Otto's Shrunken Head on 14th Street, had a working photobooth (that was, when we arrived, occupied by drunk hipsters, but that was OK by us). Jeff got us drinks and a token for the photobooth, and we discussed potential poses. Should we vogue? Make faces? Make out? "Let's just be natural for this one," I suggested. "We can get creative with the others." We couldn't wait to finish our drinks, so we took them in with us.

Our success (and the vodka) gave us the energy to carry on. Just around the corner was Lakeside Lounge, the site of our engagement photobooth session. Jeff worried that since it was three years later it might not be there anymore...

But it totally was! Two hits in a row! We celebrated with a shared beer.

For our second strip we decided to do some stupid hand-on-face poses, the kind of which are so often seen in Sears portraits.

I wasn't ready for the first flash, so I look super drunk. Awesome. (I was so proud of myself that I ate some of the Tots, which had fallen out of their styrofoam container and into the plastic bag. Yum!)

After this photo was taken, Jeff tried to take a strip by himself, for his website, but they never came out. We decided that maybe it was bad juju to take photos that weren't of both of us.

We walked three blocks to what would have been destination #5, 7B, but it wasn't there. It had been replaced by something called Horseshoe Bar. We went in but found no photobooth, and so hopped in a cab to destination #6, The Smith on 3rd Avenue.

The Smith is an actual restaurant and not a dive bar, and when we first walked in there was nary a photobooth in sight. My intrepid husband went exploring, leaving me at the bar, and returned moments later victorious. It was downstairs, outside of the bathroom, lonely and empty and waiting for us. We decided to go with stupid faces:

My "stupid faces" are, from top to bottom: Lisa Rinna, Cross-Eyed Stroke Victim, Lemon-Sucking Hand Puppet, and Uncontrollable Giggles. Jeff's are Troll Under the Bridge, Humpback of Notre Dame, Lecherous Subway Man, and Arnie Grape.

Jeff got a beer and I sat resting my feet for awhile. "Is it weird that we're just hanging out by the bathroom?" Jeff asked as toilets flushed around us. We decided to continue our pilgrimage over to the Living Room on Ludlow Street. (I threw out the Tots at this point. I was getting cranky and couldn't carry them anymore. I totally regret it. I could be eating them right now.)

The Living Room turned out to be our 4th success of the night. The photobooth was tucked into a crowded corner, but we shoved our way in. By this time it was midnight and we were tipsy and tired. Which, as we all know, is conducive to the relatively low-difficulty "make out" pose:

I know. You're kind of puking right now. Also, I have no idea why Jeff held up money in the last shot. It kind of makes me look like a ho, baby. But I still love you.

We were all the way across town from destination #8 and my feet were in such pain that I could barely walk, so we decided to cheat a little bit and do multiple strips at the Living Room. After all, we had been to no fewer than 7 bars in the span of three hours, 4 of which had working photobooths. And also we were very drunk.

For our next pose we chose the theme "accessories." The plan was for me and Jeff to switch off our hats, earmuffs, and sunglasses in every frame. We did pretty well, we thought, but the booth thought otherwise, spitting out a warped strip with only one clear picture:

The negative image at the bottom is actually pretty cool, plus we got a refund on our $3, which we used for our final pose of the night, the extremely advanced "Simon and Garfunkel":

Hello, darkness my old friend... man, I am amazed that we were able to keep straight faces after six drinks. I almost cracked up in the nose-to-nose photo but I pulled it together. Because obviously I am a total pro at posing, if not at walking or dressing myself or eating without getting sauce in my hair.

So that's it for Valentine's Day 2010. Next year we've decided to carry on the tradition and hit all of the places we missed on this go-round, including bars in Brooklyn and the outer boroughs. It'll be what we give each other, instead of chocolates or flowers or jewelry. Each year we'll collect strips of memories to tuck into albums; someday we'll show our kids. Maybe when we're old we'll frame them all side by side, dozens--maybe hundreds--of moments we spent loving each other. For me, that beats roses any day of the week. It beats Tater Tots, too, which is really saying a lot.

I love you, baby. Happy Valentine's Day.


  1. That is the coolest Valentine's Day ever!

    You two are completely ingenius!

  2. This is such a unique idea! I love it!

  3. Anonymous6:30 PM

    This has to be one of my favourite Sassy Curmudgeon posts! You guys are so cute together and obviously still just as in love. I absolutley adore your 'save the date' photo strip, I have a feeling that when the time comes for my 'save the date' announcement I may steal this idea and pass it off as my own!
    I actually think I might now officially idolize you!

  4. Awesome! You've made me want to find a photobooth with my husband.

  5. This is amazing. I love you and Jeff. You guys are buttery and adorable. I want to put you on toast.

  6. I Love taking photo booth pics, soo romantic it screams the notebook lol :)

  7. Well that was way too adorable.

  8. That's a really cool tradition. I've always wanted to find a real photo booth but the only ones I've seen are more like they take your picture and turn it into a "drawing". Lame.

  9. Ever since I found a strip of pictures of my mom and her high school friends I too have always loved photo booths; they have seemed so fun and carefree.
    Have you ever seen the French film Amelie? There's a fabulous character who collects abandoned and rejected photobooth photos and puts them in albums...tres stalkery yet interesting...
    Anyway, if you haven't seen it DO!

  10. What an awesome way to celebrate Valentine's day!

    I'm totally loving the creativity of this idea. How cool are the pictorial memories going to be over the years.

    You and Jeff rock!

  11. That was the best ever! Good for you for being so in love!

  12. ohmigosh. please tell me you've seen the movie "amelie," which involves photobooth photos in several awesome ways.

    thanks for sharing with us--happy valentine's day to all!

  13. A Great Idea! Nice to know photo booths still exist. And Tater tots, too. Yummy. Sounds like good fun.

  14. Who knows, maybe one day, I'll find someone that I can blog on for hours about! Maybe maybe. Looks like you two had a blast!

  15. Anonymous9:11 PM

    Now this is a post about true love. Wuv....twue wuv....
    *sigh* one day I will find mine. Congrats on finding yours!

  16. this is adorable! love the idea! you two make me happy. xoxo

  17. Now THIS is an original, romantic Valentine's Day. Goodbye roses and chocolates!

    You guys are awesome together. Happy Valentine's Day. :)

  18. sassy this is lovely - and truly what valentines day should be about, making memories of time spent together. I love it!

  19. sassy this is lovely - and truly what valentines day should be about, making memories of time spent together. I love it!

  20. Is it weird that your comments about my love life made me Valentine's Day even better?

    But thanks for your sweet nothings. I really am incredibly lucky and stupidly in love. And yes, I have seen Amelie and it makes me cry like a baby. In fact, it may be part of the reason I love photobooths so much. Now if only Jeff and I can learn to ride a Vespa...

  21. Photo booths rock! The best picture we have EVER taken was in a photo booth. I used it in a collage I made for Peter for Valentines Day (image on blog). Correction - I used a photo copy of it - I believe it's bad karma to cut a strip! Cheri

  22. Photo booths are indeed magical. The last time I was in a photo booth I was 11 and I was with my best friend...i wonder where those pictures got to??

  23. Oh dear god.

  24. I love this!

    Most of the booths we have over here now just take one photo (or 3 and you choose your favourite) then replicate it 4 you can't have all the fun that used to be had in photo booths :(

    Glad you had such a fab valentines day :)

  25. You like making faces in front of the

    Fairy Tales Lessons

  26. writer4:21 AM

    Such a great post... you two are adorable. On another note, if you haven't seen Amelie, watch it with Jeff.

  27. i love the photobooth pictures!
    i have yet to take some. they don't have them in shanghai. or europe. or anywhere else i've been so far.

    not that i've really looked, but yeah. they look great :)

  28. Absolutely love the photo-booth at wedding idea! I'm Chief Bridesmaid (technically only bridesmaid, but let's not get pedantic) for my best friend's wedding in May...I may do an investigate and see if there are companies who hire them out in the UK. Apologies for stealing your totally fabulous idea. But it'll give me super-bridesmaid-kudos!
    Made me smile to see such an orginal and enjoyable Valentines Day!

    Also - good job on embracing black and white...colour photo booths = Eastern European Mafia members/victims of human previously discussed on your passport photo post.

  29. That is really the most adorable thing ever! Super romantic and hilarious.

  30. You know, until I read this post I was just thinking how unromantic this Valentine's Day was. That has got to be the sweetest little love story I've heard in a long long time...

  31. Chrisy in Chicago10:52 AM

    You guys are so fun! It makes my little, shriveled heart warm seeing an couple that enjoy each other so much.

  32. What a great Valentines Day idea. I enjoyed the story and all the pics!

  33. Very sweet story.

    FYI: I suspect the bar in Williamsburg you couldn't recall was the Bushwick Country Club on Grand Street. Yes, it is in Williamburg even though it says Bushwick in the name. Add it to your list for next year!

  34. The wedding reception photo booth is a MUCH cooler idea than those lame disposable cameras on everyone's table. If I ever get married (HAHAHA!) I'm totally ripping that off from you. <3

  35. I am so in love with this post!!!!

    And by coincidence my husband pointed out our photo booth pictures we have on our fridge this morning say how much he loved them (one was taken right after we got engaged and the other was the morning after we got married).

    I may have to steal this idea. I hope you dont mind.

  36. Holy cow -- I just posted a link to this on my Facebook page and the word verification it gave me was "it's destined" -- !!!

  37. these are adorable =]]]
    sounds like a fantastic valentines day

  38. This is so sweet and quirky and strange and awesome. I love it!

  39. The Ghost of Kodak6:57 PM

    You realize our camera sales are in the toilet, right? You could have said: "Hello sir or madam, please go to the electronics store of your choice and purchase a quality Kodak product to create lasting memories of special times and loved ones."

    No, no, that's too commercial for you two, I suppose. Instead, we get a sugary, sweet, heartfelt story which makes me glad you have very few diabetic readers. With you two sentimentalitarians (just made that up) and your "romance-is-alive-and-well" life-theme, it's really no surprise that capitalism is tanking ;)

  40. Anonymous7:22 PM

    You two are friggen cute.

  41. Anonymous8:33 PM

    Way to have a fantastic man :P. As a young entrepreneur of love, you two lovebirds have just raised the aspirations I have for my future hubby.

  42. You're both adorably pukey.

    And you quoted Cher Horowitz, which makes you my new best friend. We're going to Melrose.

  43. Fantastic. I love it when people share awesomeness of this caliber. You've made my night a little better!

  44. Just some info for you. Im an American living in Australia, and I have been here nearly 5 years and I have not seen one photo booth, not one, funny enough I was thinking of them the other day and was sad that I have never seen one and have no idea where to find one here. So sad. Loved the post! Now Im off to find a photo both.. old school.

  45. Fantastic! Coincidentally, my hub and I photoboothed at the ACE Hotel in Palm Springs this weekend:)

  46. That may in fact be one of the cutest things ever... how adorable! It is awesome that you've found someone to be silly with! :D

  47. Photo booths are the best. I might have to steal your idea :)

    BTW, there is a photo booth at the Crocodile Lounge(325 E. 14th st btwn 1st & 2nd ave)

  48. You are all totally allowed to rip off the photobooth idea (it wasn't even mine originally, as obviously people were already doing it before me). And thanks for the photobooth locations--we will totally hit those next year.

  49. This has to be the best post (definitely the most fun!) that I've come across all night. I love the photobooth theme here; so much fun and reminiscent of when I was a kid.

  50. Someday darlin' someone is going to make a movie about two absolutely adorable young people and they're gonna put this night of valentine bliss in it and then my dear you will have achieved total fame. I love your romanticism, and originality. It sounds like you guys have an amazing relationship and I wish you both the best!

  51. Eeven though one may say the idea has been done before, this one retains it's own authenticity...


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