There is a place in my house where I cannot sit. I cannot read there. I cannot think there. I cannot focus there. All I can do is laugh there. The last time I sat there I laughed so hard that my children had to inquire about what was so funny. But I could not tell them.
There are four pictures in the room that make it impossible to sit there. Like the classic paintings in the Scooby Doo Cartoons that have eyes that follow you everywhere, these pictures stare at you. Their expressions are comical. The irony of the situation is comical so that whenever I sit there, I can do nothing but laugh. It is because of those pictures that there is a place in my house where I absolutely cannot sit.
The first picture is on the window sill. It is a picture of our friend Angie holding baby Chloe in a rocking chair with a big radiant guffaw. She is laughing at me. She is questioning me. And as her gaze pierces me from the window sill, I feel as though she can read my mind. I have tried to look away, but I can feel the picture staring at the back of my head and I can see the laughter upon her face.
The second photo is a snapshot of Josh when he was about nine months old and everything in the world was interesting to him. He has a big smile and wide brown eyes that just stare at you with intrigue. When the picture was taken he was caught up in something that grabbed his attention and brought about an investigative glow. I laugh because the expression in the picture means he is captivated by my entry into the room and the aura of the picture questions anything that happens there. It questions me.
The third print is of Josh and Chloe sitting on a couch with big, wide smiles that translate into “Nobody saw it. I didn’t do it. Call my lawyer.” They have the look of the cat that ate the canary but tried to cover it up while the feathers are still stuck to their chins. There is an innocence that only kids can project and an accusatory slant in their smiles that makes me feel like they have redirected the blame in my direction. It is my fault. Whatever happened when the photo was taken does not matter anymore. What happens before the photo now is the fault of those who stand or sit before it. And the glee in their faces radiates in my direction.
The final portrait is of Chloe wearing a pair of “Groucho Marx Glasses” as she spies on my every thought and action. I can imagine the questions that are about to be asked. I can imagine the jokes that are about to be told. I can only imagine what the picture would tell the world if it had one chance to speak about what it saw and heard there. I laugh harder at the thought of the stories that all of these pictures could tell if they were only given the opportunity to share them with the world.
Any one of these images by itself in my field of view would not concern me but when all four photographs are placed in the same area, I cannot do anything but laugh. It is comical. It is funny to see the four pictures clumped together on the various shelves to smile and laugh at all who decide to sit, read a book or magazine, or pontificate about life. These four snapshots together are distracting to me and cause bouts of hysterics.
I have tried to utilize the room. I have tried to turn away from the pictures but even then, I am consumed with pangs of laughter. All four photographs distract me from the business at hand. I cannot think there. I cannot read there. I cannot even close my eyes and ignore the images because I know they are staring at me.
As I said earlier, there is a place in my house where I cannot sit. I would never question my wife about why she chose these pictures to decorate those shelves because it is not my job to question. But in this instance, thank God there are two other restrooms that I can use!