Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Refuse To Laugh?

The exhibit had been publicized for months.  Now on this winter afternoon, its galleries were jammed with visitors eager to see this once in a lifetime collection of masterpieces.  There were the regulars, the ones who visit the same day each week to commune with those paintings they consider old friends.  There were the groups of school children, pushing and pointing their way through the lines, their surprising lack of commentary a happy result of black eyed threats from their teachers.  There were the art students standing back with their sketchpads. The stiletto shod ladies lost in deep admiration, their sleekly coiffed heads cocked to one side.

For so many people pressed so closely together, the room was remarkably quiet, the great works obviously doing what they always do best, bestowing wonder and awe on those who looked upon them.   I wandered around at the back of the crowd until I finally came to the The Scream, the very famous work by Edvard Munch.  A moving depiction of searing anxiety, it is the artist’s portrait of a fearful world, shown through the silent scream of one man.  An image both raw and disturbing.  
 Standing right in front of the canvas was a man holding hands with his son, who looked to be about seven.  Both of them clad in khaki shorts, they stood there silently sipping Cokes through a straw, immobile and staring at the painting before them.  Suddenly the father slapped his forehead and said in a thunderous whisper, “Home Alone!  That’s what this reminds me of!  I knew I’d get it!”.  The son nodded enthusiastically in recognition of the reference and they both moved away with satisfied grins on their faces, leaving me with the unfortunately indelible image of the precocious child actor, Macauley Culkin, with his hands on either side of his face, from a movie poster once ubiquitous and one I would rather forget.  
And it was one of those laughs that arrive without warning, unbidden and usually occurring in a most unwanted locale.  I clamped my gloved hand over my mouth in an attempt to contain it and hurriedly slipped from the room.  Leaning against a wall in the corridor I laughed till my eyes watered and my side ached. 
 I still chuckle, even now, at that memory. 
 Let’s face it - life is so often just funny.

However, in the Sunday edition of The Guardian newspaper, I now read that the peals of laughter I had on that day may have instead been discordant bells ringing out the end of my youthful appearance.  For, in an interview with anti-aging guru, Dr. Neetu Nirdosh, I learn not only that aging is a “disease” in her opinion, but my hopelessly chronic habit of laughing is giving me wrinkles.  To quote Dr. Nirdosh’s assessment of her interviewer’s face...”You laugh a lot, and that’s why you are getting wrinkles.  All repetitive movements give you wrinkles.  You have to change the way you move your face, otherwise you will age faster”

Really now, isn’t laughter the only appropriate response to such a statement? 
Refuse to laugh?
I’d much prefer the wrinkles, thanks.

Painting above entitled:  Touch and Go, To Laugh or No
By Sophie Anderson