It got worse. Photographer Walter Iooss needed Kel to come stand next to him and hold a sun reflector. So, now, what you had was a purple Hawaiian sunset, a deserted beach, a too-fabulous-to-dream-about model in nothing but a thong and a black top hat, me stuck behind the Entertainment Tonight crew, unable to see a damn thing because of some damn sun reflector, and Kel, a ninth-grader who'd never even been to a prom, making swimsuit calendars. It was possibly the greatest Take Your Children to Work Day in the history of American commerce.
During a quick break, as the makeup man moved in to spray more "sweat" on the model's derriere, Kel's eyes caught mine. I would say they were now the size of 1952 Nash Rambler hubcaps.
That night, back in the room, I was beat. Kel, however, seemed energized. "So," I said with half a wink, "you want to do the sunset shoot again tomorrow night?"
He stopped cold. "Dad," he said, firmly, "we've gotta be at the sunrise shoot."
"What?!" I protested. "That's a 4:30 wake-up call! You haven't been up before noon since you were six years old!"
"Dad," he said, firmly and responsibly, "they need us."
We finally did learn to surf—on the beach where they filmed Baywatch Hawaii, as iris-popping actresses and models practiced jogging, tanning and heart-stopping on the beach in front of us. God, this kid owes me.
On the flight home I wondered if I'd ruined him for life. After all, what was he going to say to the freshman girls back at his high school? "Hi, Amber. Hey, how come you're not backlit?"