Some years ago, Mrs. G. was rummaging through an estate sale (though the estate was a simple two bedroom rambler) when she had that feeling, accompanied by raised hairs on the back of her neck, that someone was staring at her. When she turned around, all she saw was a something...a large painting of a Siamese cat, though its wide blue eyes were eagle eying her. She walked past it to look at the paperback books.
But she kept coming back to the painting. She can't explain it. It was definitely the eyes that beguiled her. The cat looked like she (no proof of the cat's sex, but Mrs. G. had a solid hunch) had secrets. Like she knew something important. Mrs. G. caved, forked out ten bucks for the painting and carefully put it in the back of her car.
Mrs. G. should probably back up here and mention she has nothing more than a conventional affection for cats. She really likes the two she has, but the attachment doesn't extend past their furry faces. She is not even casually into animal decor--no lion or snow goose pillows, no puppy figurines, no moon howling wolfs on anything. She stays away from animal adorned clothing. Even her socks are mammal free.
When Mrs. G. carried the Siamese painting into the house, Mr. G. was waiting at the top of the stairs.
"What is that?" he asked, pointing at the (ok, ok) large painting.
"It's just something I picked up at an estate sale," Mrs. G. said, trying to make a straight beeline to her bedroom to avoid questions or criticisms. For whatever reason, this cat had become high-ranking and distinguished in her mind. She felt unexplainably protective of it.
"Wait, wait, wait. Is that a cat?" asked Mr. G. "Did you buy a painting of a cat? How much did you pay for it?"
"Two dollars." See? This cat had power. Mrs. G. was lying for it.
"I don't know, dear, I do not know," he said shaking his head. It would be nice to say this was the first purchase of Mrs. G's that he questioned. No cigar. "Just don't hang it in our bedroom."
After hanging it prominently in their bedroom, Mrs. G. stepped back to admire the cat. Maybe it wasn't the eyes. Maybe it was the shape of its imposing head. It was unexplainable but official: Mrs. G. loved this cat.
Mr. G. stopped cold when they were climbing into bed. "I thought we agreed that you weren't going to hang that in here. It's looking right at us. It's creepy."
"It's not creepy," Mrs. G. countered, "it has character. I wouldn't be surprised if we found out this was worth some money at the Antiques Road Show."
"Oh here we go with the Road Show. Heather, that cat is a paint-by-numbers."
Mrs. G. often trots out the Road Show when she's trying to justify her taste or expenditure.
But nobody in her family buys it. Her daughter often laughs and says if there was anything in their house that would garner significant money at the Road Show, Mrs. G. had probably painted it or dismantled it for a collage...or sold it at a yard sale.
No one person in her house respects her art.
Mr. G. has a vigorous and self preserving ability to block out anything unpleasant in his life, so he eventually forgot the painting existed and it has been hanging in their room for six years.
And the Siamese cat still holds sway over Mrs. G. She often stares at it, wondering who painted it and just what role the cat played in his or her universe.
It takes a commitment to paint a large picture of a cat. They're mobile creatures.
Mrs. G. has been redecorating her bedroom, trying to spruce things up. Decorating in Mrs. G's life amounts to moving things from one room into another...it works for her. She's been changing up the furniture, the quilts and the artwork, but she hasn't touched the Siamese cat despite Mr. G's encouragement.
"That cat has been staring at me for six years. Enough." he says.
Mrs. G. still thinks the painting might be valuable folk art.
So, Dear Reader, the cat's fate rests in your hands. Be gentle. Be honest.
First off, the flash of the camera has erased some of the depth of the painting. Keep that in mind.
Aren't the eyes compelling?
Aren't the quirky whiskers charming and realistic?
Or folk art?