Dinner with Family

When I was eleven, my mother took me to the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Standing in front of Freedom from Want, I listened

as the docent explained how Rockwell created the illusion of water

in the glasses. All that white and glass and water- the painting really

is a remarkable achievement; even I, a child, could see

that. But what most interested me about the work

was the guy in the lower right corner who looks like


the creepy uncle. Even now he unnerves me. Staring directly at us, wanting to know

if we’re in on the joke, asking, “You know that ain’t no water, right?

That’s paint. Here, have a sip.” But he’s saying it with his eyes

because Grandma taught him better than to use the word ain’t

and she sure as hell doesn’t know he drinks anything stronger than

tea. He must need a drink, sitting at that pure, pristine table, amongst all those nice,

clean, well-behaved people. What are they talking about?

Sports? Stocks? School? Grandma’s dinner? That turkey,


it does look delicious, but I bet it’s dry. Good thing those nice folks have something

to drink. My family is a lot like theirs, although we also imbibe in vodka and wine,

and when we  give thanks it is in the haze of the candlelit dusk where we sit at a table laid

with Waterford and Lenox, inebriated by our own lies, so many that, we can no longer discern the glasses from the water.

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