October 4, 2009

We Just Wanted To Be In the Church Directory

This is a column I wrote last May, and have revised for submission to a local paper. I am always rewriting, never happy with my words. Here's another go at it.

Last Tuesday night we posed for our church directory picture.

The loquacious photographer told my husband repeatedly, “What a lucky man you are!”

We waited for the digital photo preview, and heard the photographer tell at least three more men the same thing. “What a lucky man you are,” whether their wives looked like Halle Berry or Broderick Crawford, same story.

Finally the Sales Pitch man shooed us into the Sales Pitch room, usually a Sunday School room. The walls and table were completely covered with framed pictures of happy, smiling families. Maybe there’s something wrong with me but I did not want a picture of my husband and me at this stage in life.

We just wanted to be in the church directory, to be recognized by other members in this growing church.

My husband may have gained few pounds since college and his hair might be a bit thinner, but he still has the same sparkling blue eyes and radiant crooked smile. (When I look at him I see George Clooney -- love, after all, is blind.)

As for me, I have gained weight, (Is nineteen years long enough to lose the “baby weight?”) I have a chinny chin chin, rather several chinny chin chins. Two-inch hairs often grow from the middle of my cheek, and of course one leaped forth right before the photo session last week.

I have stopped coloring my hair so I now have “salt and pepper”, unrecognizable from the bottle blond I used to be.

When I needed new glasses, choosing the stylish Vera Bradley frames seemed a good idea. But now they appear as if from Kremlin Collection of 1963, with heavy-duty frames accented with my eyebrows. I’m presently a candidate for the Soviet leadership team.

And due to childhood weeks at Lake Wawasee, there are age spots in the shape of European countries on my cheek. I have a 10X make-up mirror in my bathroom, surrounded by lights as bright as the klieg lights from a Nazi prison camp. I don’t use make-up anymore, I use spackling paste from Kight Home Center with a hint of beige.

Are you getting the picture?

Did we want to buy a photographic representative of this? Of course not.

We just want to be in the church directory.

Meanwhile the Sales Pitch man continued his spiel – a 16 x 20 in a gold-leafed frame with photo painted on a special canvas. Would look great in our Son’s dorm room, don’t you think? Had the Sales Pitch man lost his mind?

We told the Sales Pitch man we were only interested in the free 8 by 10. And that was just to make him happy, we weren’t even really interested in that. Who would want it?

We just wanted to be in the church directory.

The desperate Sales Pitch man pleaded, “Well, that photo is ABSOLUTELY FREE. There is no additional cost; however, if you want the touch-up, it’s only $29.95.”

Then he showed us two pictures. Each was of the same woman, but the unretouched photograph highlighted wrinkles, age spots, discolorations, eye bags. The woman looked as wretched as a Disney cartoon witch. In the retouched photograph, she was beautiful, even glowing. All for $29.95.

Both of us had the feeling that the Sales Pitch man really wanted us to do the retouching. Would his offer, as my husband said, include the little known “mercy clause” and give us the retouching for free?

He did not give us the free retouching, so we walked.

Prepare for a Christmas card picture of George Clooney and the Soviet leader.