Our townhouse is pretty new – younger than ten years old – and it is exactly the same in layout as all the townhouses on either side of it. Big living room windows overlook a path often clogged with middle school students or groups of women doing ‘strollercize’. The living room features a gas fireplace, above which is a solid wood mantle, above which is an expanse of white wall and attached to the ceiling is a spotlight pointed at that expanse of wall. You are meant to Put Your Art Right There.
If you walk along the foot / bike path after dark you can look up at the townhouses and see a variety of spotlit art pieces in the homes where people, like me, assume no one is looking up from the path and leave their blinds open. One house has a gigantic Buddha painting. One house has a landscape painting in a gold frame. One house has a tiny, framed photo.
For a long time after we moved in, there was nothing in the spotlight but light. I guess we felt like we didn’t have anything spotlight-worthy. Or maybe we are just lazy unpackers who couldn’t be bothered to dig in the poster tube for the Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster that SA has been hauling around forever, or the Ministry of Silly Walks poster I’ve been hauling around forever. Eventually we put up a wedding picture.
No, not our own wedding picture. Our own wedding picture is on the fridge.
This wedding picture is from my dear friend Melissa’s brother’s wedding. Melissa’s brother got married on top of a mountain in Colorado, a number of years ago, and Melissa was in the wedding party. The photographer, bless him, was either a beginner or a no-talent-ass-hack because the photo we love so dearly is composed very poorly. The bride is on the far left and because of skewed perspective, she appears to be about three feet tall. Her two bridesmaids, visions in pink, strapless gowns, stand near her and seem also to be three feet tall. In the foreground, there is Melissa, who was Maid of Honour, and the father of the bride, standing next to each other.
Melissa is my height and size, so roughly 5’10 and a healthy weight. The father of the bride looks to be about the same size but more burly, like a wrestler, and he is also shiny-bald and has ham-hands. Picture Daddy Warbucks making an “Imma kill you” face straight to the camera. Melissa wears a strapless pink dress and has one hand on her hip, looking at him with a facial expression that makes no sense, either visually or contextually. Because the three women in the background look miniature, the two people in the foreground look immense and the whole thing feels like it should be subtitled:
“I will steal my Beautiful Giantess from the clutches of these evil Munchkins and we will make huge, angry babies forever in my mountain cave! Bwahahahaha!”
Melissa forwarded me the link to the photographer’s site when he put the photos up and I scrolled through and enjoyed the scenery and the shots of people in pretty clothes and then I came to this particular photo and peed my pants laughing. I forwarded the link to SA and he peed his pants laughing. After we washed all our pants, we ordered two 8×10 prints from the website and had them mailed to us.
Years passed. We moved to New Westminster and acquired a spotlight.
SA decided one day he was getting the photos framed. But he didn’t just want to go to London Drugs and buy a $10 frame. He took them to a framing store and had a serious discussion with the framing store person about what colours of mat to use and how to best set off the pink dresses and black tuxedo.
That Christmas, we mailed one to Melissa and put the other on our living room wall, in the spotlight.
The photo has been there so long that I forget about it. People come over who haven’t before and I wonder why they are acting funny and then realize that it’s because I have a wedding picture on my wall that I am not in. I see people staring at it. Wondering if I look that different in a pink strapless dress or if I just stole someone’s art? Both, I guess!
(When the doula we had for Trombone came over to meet us and find out about our hopes and dreams, she sat on our couch for a while and chatted and filled out a questionnaire and then, at one point, looked quizzically at the wall and asked us about the photo. When we explained, she said,
“You like to do things your own way, don’t you.”
Very diplomatic! You’re hired!)
Last week, I was in Burnaby, hanging at my parents’ house and we took the children out for a walk to buy mushrooms. On our way to the grocer’s, we passed the Salvation Army Thrift store and in the window I saw the most perfect gift for SA. A picture. Like my unicorn picture, but better, way better. On our way back from getting the mushrooms, I stopped in to make sure it wasn’t too expensive ($3.99!) and then I bought it and brought it home. With some sadness – but not very much – I took down the wedding picture and hung this new piece of art in its place. In the spotlight.
I say I bought it for SA, but really? I might have bought it for both of us. For all of you. For all the people who walk by our house at night, looking up at the windows, hoping to see something good. You’re welcome, passers-by.
Tiger, with beer keg. For the rec room in all of us.