True stories with a twist!


Unknown        That’s what people say when they’re about to take your picture.

I understand the desire to have smiling faces in photos, but I think saying’s “cheese” creates people with phony smiles. The “cheesy smile” doesn’t give anyone to show a smiling expression, but  an expression of one who’s just had a Novocain shot.

A photographer with a great touch for getting real smiles was working at a doctor’s wedding we attended. He told guests to say, “malpractice,” causing everyone to laugh. The pictures showed everyone having a wonderful time.

When I’m facing the camera I think of something funny I’ve experienced; a favorite memory that will elicit a smile.

Which brings me to the subject of coffee. Most people who drink it like fresh coffee. The fresher the better. Freshly ground coffee beans are best of all. The current popularity of the one cup at a time coffee makers attest to this desirability of freshly brewed coffee. When my future husband and I were dating I spent the weekend at his family’s house one weekend, and my future in-laws invited my parents to lunch. The in-law family included his parents, a sister, a brother and an elderly grandmother.

Grandma, I had discovered in previous visits, had her own way of managing coffee. She believed it was a crime to throw food away. So she recycled the family’s coffee. She poured the old brew into a pot, added milk and warmed it up. Then she poured it into individual cups and served it to unsuspecting guests. My father was a coffee purist and one of the “fresher is better” believers. I had never thought to mention grandma’s coffee preparation methods to him.

Dessert time soon arrived. When offered the choices of coffee or tea my father said,”I’d like some coffee, please.” Grandma went into the kitchen to prepare it. Will I ever forget the look on my father’s face when he took a long sip of Grandma’s concoction? The taste was so foreign: so different from what he expected that he almost spit the mouthful of recycled coffee out all over the imagescarefully laid table. One look at his shock and disbelief was one of the funniest sights I ever saw. Its memory remains in my mind, and makes me laugh every time I remember that day.

So I never have to “say cheese” to force a smile; I simply recall the memory of my father reacting to is first taste of “Grandma style coffee.”

Comments on: "SAY CHEESE" (47)

  1. What a fun story! Gotta love those old family classics!

  2. You are so right about cheese not giving a good result – at a recent photoshoot for the newspaper, my granddaughter and other prizewinners for swimming seem to be gritting their teeth at the ordeal!
    It would have been a delicious irony if he’d loved that coffee!

  3. Lovely post Ronnie! 🙂

  4. Love it! Being the gentleman I bet he was, he gagged it down.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Candid photos are the best, at least for me. I can’t ‘freeze’ that way. Of course, now I can imagine the look on your father’s face and I’ll be sure to smile as well. Thanks!

  6. Your poor Dad. Remembering his reaction would make me smile, too. Thanks for the giggle, Ronnie.

  7. My! You got me smiling with this one. I appreciate a picture even more when the it’s full of faces with genuine smiles. But that depends on the situation. My father says that some of his best photos were taken (at ceremonies) when he wasn’t aware.

    Like you, I also think about a funny moment whenever I’m posing for a photo. Mine goes to one of my favorite wrestling superstars, who often says “what happened” after committing an offence the referee is unaware of.

    Pls I’ll send you an email soon. I’m happy I was able to read En Garde.

  8. Oh, Ronnie, your post brought such a radiant smile to my face that I just wished a photographer had taken a click of me at that moment! Loved it…and dear ol’ grannie! 😀

  9. I like the scene in ‘no country for old men’ when Tommy Lee Jones character is visiting a retired former sherif and walks over to the coffee pot and asks the fellow if coffee was made this week. Some people drink coffee no matter how old.

    I don’t. We grind our own shade grown, bird friendly, imported from Italy coffee beans. Not that we are picky or anything like that.

  10. I like the “malpractice” line, Ronnie. I can see how that would produce more genuine smiles.

  11. Very funny! I agree, ‘cheese’ is so…cheesy. When my kids were little, I knew the only way to make them laugh was to use bathroom words. It was always, “Say caca”. They would crack up every time! 🙂

  12. Wish I had a great memory to elicit the perfect photogenic smile! Ah well – toothy will have to do. 🙂

  13. hahaha
    So true about getting cheesy pictures on saying ‘cheese’

  14. Haha, Ronnie – you give me some good ideas here! My husband hates to have his picture taken. So I’ll have to get clever with words, which shouldn’t be too hard. Thanks! (though i never say, ‘say cheese!’ agreed it’s cheesy!)

  15. What a sweet way to remember her. My mother doesn’t throw out old coffee either– it is either reheated, or used to make iced coffee, or used in pot roast, etc. Thankfully she does discard the grinds though I wouldn’t put if past her to try to find a recipe for them too.

    • I use the grounds to toss on my hydrangea plants. They’re acid and cause the blooms to be blue. Although Miracid would do the trick just as well I like the idea of using an ingredient that would other wise be discarded.

  16. Thank you Ronnie now I have something to think about next time I need to smile for the camera… lovely story, certainly brought a big smile to my face…

  17. My mom used to make coffee by putting water in a saucepan, adding grounds (probably Maxwell House9, boiling it, then straining it into a cup. And your blog brought back that memory. Thanks, Ronnie. Hope you’re smiling today.

  18. So let me see if I got this right….., if I wanted you to smile instead of “cheese”, I should ask you to say “coffee” ??? 🙂 Ha !

  19. I smiled for a photo once – maybe twice.

  20. Sounds like the perfect memory to induce a smile. I’ve never understood the “cheese” thing either. We have many group photos at family reunions where my sons–who were too young at the time to realize saying cheese might not be the best for their countenances–look like goofy hyenas. 🙂

  21. Lisa Honecker said:

    Great story, funny and memorable.

  22. Coffee, tea, cheese, malpractice, Grandma, …. No matter what the choices, I truly enjoyed this post. Thanks, Ronnie!

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