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.