By Paul Wait
Who’s the Trapper in the Picture?
Attending the NTA convention reveals an unexpected character flaw
A bearded fellow approached the booth, flipped through the 2008 T&PC Yearbook, then pulled out his wallet. I made change, snapped the metal cash box shut and thanked the guy.
The trapper glanced at the table, wrinkled his forehead and shot an inquisitive glance at me.
“Is Paul at the show?” he queried.
“Yeah, I think so,” I said as I broke into a smile. “I’m Paul.”
“Paul Wait?” he questioned, his disbelieving stare piercing my chest as he searched for a name tag on my polo shirt.
“That’s me,” I assured.
“Well, you don’t look anything like him,” the trapper insisted. “Did you lose weight or something?”
I shook my head.
“From your picture in the magazine, I thought you were a shorter, round guy,” he said.
I shuffled my feet, straightened my back and lifted my chin, subconsciously standing as tall as possible.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you,” the trapper said, finally breaking through the awkward tension. “I’ve been reading your columns and stories for years.”
From there, we launched into a dialogue about the upcoming trapping season, fur prices and traplines past. But even as we shared trapping experiences, my new friend studied me with a skeptical eye. As he walked away, I believe he still carried a fraction of doubt that I wasn’t, in fact, an imposter sent by F+W Publications to staff the T&PC booth, while the real Paul — a much shorter, stockier editor — toiled back at the office in Wisconsin.
Later that afternoon, a similar scenario unfolded, only this time, the questioner was an attractive, 30-ish woman pulling a future trapper in a wagon.
“Your picture in the magazine makes you look a lot shorter than you are,” she said bluntly. “You look much different in person.”
I was afraid to ask if “different” meant better. I was starting to develop a bit of a complex about my appearance.
The next day, another trapper commented that I looked different in person.
As he walked away, I flipped open the current issue of T&PC to make sure something odd hadn’t happened to my photo in the magazine.
“Looks like it always has,” I muttered, not realizing another trapper was within earshot.
“He’s right,” the man affirmed. “Your picture makes you look short, and well, bigger.”
I have examined my photo several times since the convention. I suppose the collar on my jacket makes my shoulders look more broad. And my face might be slightly puffed up because I’m hoisting a beaver.
Even though the picture was taken a few years ago, the guy in the photo above looks like what I see in the mirror today. Maybe I need to have my vision checked.
At any rate, I’m 6 feet, 2 inches tall. I still weigh 210 pounds, just like I did the day my column photo was taken.
Next month, I’ll debut a new, more slimming head shot. This time, when the shutter closes, I won’t be hoisting a beaver or wearing a heavy coat.
The picture will be different. Taller. Less round. Maybe better, maybe not.
It’ll look just like me. I promise.
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