When I met husband, I thought this would always happen. He’s a singer songwriter and I like to sing. How could it not?
Sadly liking to sing and being able to hold a note is a different thing. I, according to husband, can’t sing “street.” I can only sing “show tune.” When I sing with Husband, it always ends up with Husband attempting a harmony, me joining in with my “vibrato /lisp/Kazoo” voice and both of us ending up in giggles.
I should have known this would happen. I’m a big girl. I know that movies are fiction and real life is not.
I dated an artist once and, despite what I thought would happen – him sketching me while I slept and then painting a masterpiece of my face at rest - he only painted me once. Bob – and no, that’s not his real name – had an assignment for a class he was taking and had to do a nude. When he asked me to be his subject, I was thrilled. We'd been dating for years and it was finally happening. I was going to be immortalized in oils. I was in my mid twenties. I had no extra jiggles or fuzzy bits. My boobs were still perky-ish. I was over the moon. My twenty something body was going to be preserved forever in oil.
We were living in an artist collective in Chicago across from Second City. It was so very much like something out of a movie, a romantic comedy about down on their luck artists in love. The reality was, we were on the verge of breaking up and really shouldn’t have been together in the first place. But these things didn’t cross my mind when I was putting on my Victoria Secret robe and stumbling out of the bathroom for my great art debut.
Nervous, I drank most of a bottle of wine as Bob arranged his easel to face the bed and then set to work setting a pile of pillows for me to prop myself graceful up against. I was giggly and dizzy, though I’m not sure if it was from the wine or from the anticipation. I stood at the foot of the bed waiting for him finish. In my mind, I knew how this would play out; he would paint me for a while but spending all that time looking at me, at my body would distract him, he would be overcome with love, throw down his paint brush, stalk over to me posing and pull me into his arms, all the while telling me he loves me as the scene fades to black.
Reality is much harsher when you go into a situation with that stupid movie playing in your head.
Bob finished arranging pillows and stepped back for me to get onto the bed. He pulled me this way and that way until he got a pose he liked and then quickly moved behind his easel. For hours he painted and I posed and, in between the cramping of my arms and legs as they stayed faithfully in their posed positions, I dreamed. After his painting was discovered and placed in a museum, we would travel the world and he would paint and I would perform and we would love and live happily ever after.
Finally he was done. Did I want to see it, he asked. Playing it cool, I just nodded. Slipping my robe back on, I awkwardly slid off the bed and wandered slowly over to look at the masterpiece.
And then my world fell apart.
What Bob had neglected to tell me was that the assignment for his class was not supposed to be a real life painting. The assignment for his class was to paint someone as obese and as anorexic. I wasn’t looking at a lovely rendition of his love for me reflected in paint. I was looking at me immortalized on canvas, preserved forever in oil as horrifically anorexic and morbidly obese.
My wine buzz faded as my romantic movie turned into a black comedy. We broke up a few weeks later and I moved back to California, slightly more jaded and definitely more aware.
I know now that when husband asks me to sing with him, it’s not going to be pretty. And I know he’s going to tell me it’s not pretty. That is the best kind of romantic movie – an honest one with a happy, slightly off tune ending.