I asked Sharrod to re-create a durational salute—something he learned at a mock boot camp during his summer vacation—for my video camera one winter afternoon. He agreed and stood, staring forward, saluting a superior “ghost” for the better part of twenty minutes. At the end of the take, exhausted and fatigued, Sharrod turned slightly, while still holding the salute. I suddenly realized that my interest had more to do with the relationship of the salute to mimicry than the durational exercise.
As the sun set, we did two more takes of him spinning, slowly, 360 degrees while attempting to maintain the salute.
I realized somewhere between shooting and editing the footage that the military salute was, in many ways, a male equivalent of the endlessly spinning ballerina nestled in the jewelry box so many of my (female) childhood friends had sitting on their dressers.