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 noooooo.......no, 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?