Taking pictures of people having their picture taken in front of the Olympic cauldron

Smile. I said: SMILE.

It’s quite a shock to come to Vancouver from Whistler. Despite the Olympic presence, the mountain resort retains its small-town feeling. It’s crowded but there are few lines and fewer delays. Vancouver is a madhouse. The entire downtown is like the scene at the pier in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. Today, I counted 57 people in line… at a hot dog vendor.

Down the street, meanwhile, the queue for the Olympic Super Store at The Bay was at least two hours long. And what the people didn’t know – and I didn’t have the heart to tell them – was that another punishing lineup awaited: the one to pay. I walked slowly along the queue and, at the risk of feeding a stereotype, I can only tell you the truth: The women were, for the most part, cheery and chatty; as for the men – let’s just say I haven’t seen this many looks of distress and resignation on men since the invention of chastity.

I also spent some time at the Olympic cauldron. No one just comes to see the cauldron. People come to take photos of the cauldron – which, by the way, in person is even uglier than it appears on television. It looks like an industrial plumbing job gone horribly awry. With the fire shooting out the top, I think of it as the Devil’s Toilet.

As a photographic attraction, however, the cauldron is a blast to hang around, because it’s never a long wait to get an earful of some quality parenting. “Jeremy,” one woman shrieked – shrieked – at her little boy. “You smile right now or we’re getting back on that bus.” I was standing with an Olympic volunteer when this happened and she didn’t even flinch. “Heard way worse,” she said.

Here are some photos of people having their photos taken in front of the Olympic cauldron. In the spirit of the film Zoolander, all the poses have been given names.

The “Lone Wolf”

The “When You’ve Got Six Kids, Having Four of Them Face the Camera and Smile is Really the Best You Can Hope For”

The “Sears Catalog”

The “Before Mom Yelled at Us to Smile”

The “After Mom Yelled at Us to Smile”

The “You’ve Got All Day, Right Mom?” I

The “You’ve Got All Day, Right Mom?” II

The “You’ve Got All Day, Right Mom?” III

The “Great, it’s the 438th Photo of Her Holding Minnie Mouse in Front of Her Face”

The “Make Sure You’ve Got Dan’s Forklift in the Shot – The Forklift’s in the Shot, Right?”

The “Get Me From Behind So It’s Looks Like I’m Gazing Pensively When in Fact Everyone’s Yelling at Me to Get a Move On Because the Line to Take a Photo from the Platform is 90 Minutes Long, For Crissake”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.