I’m pretty sure my jaw is hanging open as my husband stands behind me with a goofy grin on his face, awaiting my response. I can’t see the grin, but I know it is there.
In front of me on the computer screen I scroll through images of my husband’s newest project. With each click I am equally horrified and fascinated. I pause at each one to soak in each piece as you do at an art gallery when you are not sure what you are looking at.
Vegetables. I see that they are vegetables, but not just your ordinary vegetables. One image is a very phallic carrot being held tenderly in what I can only assume is my husband’s hand. Another shows a pepper so up close it looks like a baby’s bottom, silky smooth covered in oil. Each is composed in black and white, making them all the more realistic and therefore disturbing.
After I view about ten images, my husband eagerly asks, “So, what do you think?”
Gripping my shoulder now, he can barely contain his excitement. My brain works hard to come up with a simple answer to the question.
“Um,” is all I can muster. But my mind fills in the gap that follows. Really? Pornographic vegetables? Your photography skills are so much better than this, I think. Isn’t this illegal in some states?
A picture of a gourd stares back at me with its base appearing like two well-endowed testicles hanging below the neck looking like an erect penis. I want to turn away but I can’t. He really does seem to capture the sexual presence of the plant.
“I know, right?” He carries on. “Sure, it’s a departure from my previous work, but the light playing on the skin of the produce got me moving. I just couldn’t stop.”
I feel his smile on the back of my neck. He is like a school boy, antsy to gain the teacher’s approval. But he can’t see the disappointment in my thoughts. I guess I expected something more. More along the lines of his previous work? It is still life photography, with a different subject matter. More beautiful? No, these images are gorgeous. More moral? Maybe, but it is art.
My gut says there is nothing wrong, but my thoughts can’t seem to rectify my feeling that something is just so wrong. I scroll though the images until the image of the baby’s butt-looking pepper comes back around.
I’m about to turn around to speak my thoughts, when I hear our son shuffle into the room. I lunge at the screen, arms outstretched, in an attempt to hide the images from his young eyes.
“Nice butt, dad,” he says with a casual sincerity, as he passes through into the kitchen for his third snack of the afternoon.
My husband laughs at my ridiculous instinct to shelter our teenage son from a pepper and at our son’s smart-ass comment.
My face turns beet-red as I try to laugh off my not-so-ninja-like maneuvers. I glance towards the kitchen, then at my husband, and back at the pepper on the screen.
“Yeah, nice work.” I say, getting up. “You really capture the light on the baby’s ass.” I kiss him on the cheek and make a grab at his behind. His dopey smile returns, as the teacher gives him her thumbs up.