There’s an interesting picture hanging in the bathroom of a particular shop here in town.
It’s a piece designed to represent the comedic side of American life — a shot of a kitchen, a boy, a dog and a pie way up high on a refrigerator.
I see the picture every time I wash up in this bathroom, and I always snicker.
The kid — a bit plump — is staring up at the pie that’s out of his reach. He wants that pie. The dog is staring too, but who knows what he wants.
Every time I see the picture, I think, “That’s my life! All the pies are out of reach. It’s a metaphor for the constant struggle for possessions and personal gain and all that Maslow’s Hierarchy malarkey.”
You feel sorry for the fat little kid because you feel just like the fat little kid.
“I want that pie! I want this! I want that!”
And it’s all out of reach in this unfair life.
Well, today as I was washing up, I saw the picture in a different light when I noticed something so obvious that I’d ignored it before.
“That kid is fat for a reason! He’s had too many pies. He doesn’t need another one. That pie is out of his reach for his own good!”
That little insight skewed my normal view of the picture. Instead of seeing it as a metaphor of life cheating us out of the basic necessities, I saw it as a warning of craven excess.
“You don’t need another pie, David. You don’t need that new car, that fancy trip, that new toy.
Those are pies you’ve had before —and they’re tasty in moderation — but they aren’t healthy in large doses.” I looked at the fat kid again, and I saw myself.
And I wasn’t pleased.
I hate to find a morality tale hidden in a bathroom. I just wanted to wash my dirty hands.
I really didn’t want to have my dirty soul laid bare by a picture of a fat kid and a pie that he couldn't and shouldn't have.
Next time I’m in that shop, I’ll probably save the hand-washing for when I get home. The artwork in my bathroom is rather boring.
And while I’m home, I might even examine what’s on the top of my fridge and consider what should be placed up there, way out of reach of this fat boy.