June 21, 2012

Pictures at an exhibition

(This frame is available for purchase at artgalleryframes.com)
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 it was the same story.

Eventually a 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 Stepford 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. There is just too much water over the damn, as it were. We just showed up to be in the directory, to play nice.

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 may have gained a few pounds since our wedding and the birth of our child. (Is 20 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 leapt forth as if on cue right before the photo session.

I have stopped coloring my hair so I now have “salt and pepper”, unrecognizable from the bottle blond I used to be. It's been so long that no one really is sure of my real hair color.

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 look like a member of the Cold War Kremlin leadership team.

And due to childhood weeks at my grandparent's lake cottage, there are age spots in the shape of eastern 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 regular foundation anymore, rather a viscous spackling paste from Lowe's with just a sheer 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.
Update: Submitted this for the repost open call. This was written three years ago. I no longer attend this church. The free eight by ten (unretouched) was still in my church mailbox when I left the church. Guess it is probably still there.