Sunday, December 9, 2012

I'd Be Wearing the Apron

You can buy your very own print of Jack Vettriano's 'The Singing Butler' here

I'll bet that you've seen a copy of this picture before. I know that I've seen it in craft stores, on poster websites, and in frame shops everywhere. I zipped through a store the other day and caught sight of this thing, which brought to mind a conversation that I had last December. I was window shopping with a gal who had never seen it before.

"Ooooh," she breathed. "Isn't that just the most romantic setting you've ever seen?"

I looked at the print, then back to her in disbelief. "Are you kidding me? I think it's terrible!"

She was surprised and flashed me a look of pure annoyance. "What's not to like? A beautiful couple dancing on the beach? Honestly, Jul, I just don't get you sometimes!"

"Well," I said. "I guess it depends on who you identify with in this picture. Personally, I don't see myself as the gorgeous woman in the red dress. I've always assumed that I would be the poor maid hanging onto her hat with one hand and the umbrella with another. And the wind blowing up her bloomers. And sand blowing in her eyes. And wondering when the HELL these two are going to come to their senses and head back inside so that she can get out of her wet and cold clothes, stick her feet into a basin of nice hot water, and put her flannel jammies on. While sipping a steaming hot rum-spiked toddy. But, she's stuck out in the freezing wind and rain listening to the poor butler singing for these two goofballs. And he's hanging onto his hankie for dear life because his nose is running out there in the cold, and can't believe that they asked him to sing a stupid song because they're not listening to him anyway."

She looked at me as if I had grown three heads. "Are you serious?"

"Well, yeah. I am. Whenever I see that thing it makes me feel crabby. It just seems unfair somehow. Kind of like when you were telling me about the string quartet that your relatives hired last year to serenade the them on Christmas Eve as they were opening their gifts."

She and her family live in an entirely different financial universe than I do. Seriously.

At this point in the conversation, this gal was royally miffed. "What's wrong with having MUSIC on CHRISTMAS EVE, for Pete's sake?"

"Music is great. I just don't think it's........nice......or something.....that the musicians were stuck working on Christmas Eve instead of being home with their own families."

She gave me an icy glare in silence.

"Um. Sorry. Don't mean to make it sound judgmental or anything. I'm sure that your uncle reimbursed them and gave them a nice tip..... some musicians count on holiday gigs to help pay the bills, I know.......and probably some of them don't celebrate Christmas anyway......"

I took a deep breath and tried to stop my runaway blabbing.

"But back to the picture. Would YOU want to be the maid or the butler? Would you? Huh?"

She sniffed. "I don't know. But I STILL think it's lovely." And she left in a huff.

Oh, brother. Way to go, Julia. Open mouth wide, stick size 10's directly in mouth. Great. Just great. Just because some people listen to live string quartets on Christmas Eve in their own living rooms while WE have the annual reading of "Cheesehead Night Before Christmas" doesn't make either of us better than the other.

Betcha I was crossed off her Christmas card list this year, I thought.

So, what do y'all think? I wonder what my interpretation of this picture says about me? Or about my friend? (Um. Ex-friend, I'll bet.) How do you feel when you see this picture?


Brigid Rauch said...

Good for you - you have the Christmas Spirit!

Robin said...

I agree Julia. If it was just the couple dancing, in formal dress, in the rain on the beach, then yes - very romantic. If I was the maid, all the heavy sighing and loud harrumphing I would be doing would surely interrupt any music that the couple may have been dancing to.

Kelly said...

I think what I always think when I see people in formal wear. Why is the poor woman wearing next to nothing while the man gets to wear that awesome tuxedo and comfortable flat shoes?
As for the musicians, working odd hours, weekends and holidays is part of the gig. As long as they were well paid and appreciated, they were probably okay with it, but I do see your point.

Amy Junod said...

I suppose for those that get taken over by crazy love this is a very romantic scene. You know, the crazy love that swallows you so that it seems like the two of you are the only ones in the world. Not a care in the world sort of feeling. I guess. That's just the romantic side of it?
I have never gotten that "Oh, how romantic!" feeling from this either. At first glance, it's sweet. It's sweet until you're eyes are immediately pulled to either side of the couple. Each servant is crouched over in pain from the elements.
Dancing in the rain is fun when you're well I suppose. For those with arthritic bones it just looks painful.

Our family does Christmas different so I can't picture my family enjoying the band playing. We are music lovers but we're a pretty loud bunch. I'm not sure they could be heard over the laughter and package ripping. We seldom get all of the family under one roof at the same time so it's chaos. Fun chaos.

Wow...the "arts" really do make us reflect. Very interesting...