At one point or another in our lives we come to a pause moment. A moment in time where you’re captured by some effect; a physical condition or limitation, a change in jobs, a marriage or divorce, a delightful surprise or perhaps the cataclysmic upheaval from the death of a loved one. Whatever the causes, these pause moments can make us take a step back and reflect a little.
And yesterday was no different. You see, yesterday I ran into a pause moment. Well, to be more accurate, my wife and I ran into it, because I suppose that I would have completely missed it, if my lovely wife of 30 years hadn’t pointed it out. We were on the first day of our one-week celebration vacation for our 30th wedding anniversary, doing a little antique shopping up in central Washington State.
And what had innocently begun as a nice, calm stroll through the basement of another antique store, ended abruptly in a pause moment – only this is the kind of pause moment that no amount of soap, eye wash or electroshock therapy will ever remove.
These are her unforgettable words as we strolled down the aisle:
“That picture is making me dizzy,” she says from a little distance away.
“Oh?” I stop my duck-like stroll and look up. Seeing that she has my attention, she turns, finger pointing slightly up and away from her. Then I see it. It only took a split second, and to my dismay, I immediately know that it can’t be unseen. Amid all the clutter, all the other pictures hung in various orientations vying for the attention of the shoppers meandering through the brightly lit halls of antiquity, this picture had them all beat, hands down. No contest.
Dizzy doesn’t even begin to touch it.
Now, point of clarification here; I’m generally not a picture shopper, and most men are mercifully endowed with powerful filtration systems on their single-threaded input channels, so my visual cortex was blind to pictures until that moment.
Lest you be expecting the usual depiction of black-light illuminated sad-eyed bulls and crying orphans on a velvet canvass, you’d be as wrong as my daughter, who guessed it was that bastion of all things kitsch when she called me, a day late, for father’s day. Oh if it were only so mundane. I could soon forget even sad-eyed bulls goring crying orphans, but I could not forget this. Well, maybe I can’t forget sad-eyed bulls goring crying orphans, because despite my best efforts, that Firesign Theatre CD always seems to resurface, but I digress.
So by now you’re wondering what’s all the kerfuffle about? Trust me, dear reader, you are nearing the end of your normal life as you know it. For if you continue along this journey with me, despite my oath to protect and serve and uphold the laws and constitution of this State, I feel compelled as if watching a train-wreck and unable to resist, to share this image with you. But be warned – and don’t say I didn’t warn you – that once seen, you will never be able to un-see it, and alas, you will never be quite the same again. So, I bid you fair warning and counsel to carefully consider before continuing.
You think I jest?
Well, before I reveal this….thing… let me relay a quick story, one from my childhood that might help you decide.
You see, there was this show. I have never seen it since, though I have looked – I was probably far too young and too impressionable to be watching this particular show at the time. It was some Sci-Fi TV show or movie, in black and white, about some guy who owned this mystery box. It looked like an ordinary wooden box, but my memory is fading. I don’t recall the circumstances around this box, only that it made this weird sound – as if something were spinning around and around inside of it. The tension kept building up. There was something horrible inside. Something monstrous. Something evil.
The guy who owned the box didn’t want people to see what was in it – the details are vague – all I recall was that it was set in a typical 1950’s style urban American home. During the movie, some people looked into the box and freaked out. The viewer of course, doesn’t see what’s in it, we only see the results and impacts on those that do, and they weren’t pleasant.
In one scene toward the end, there’s this small hole in the box, and despite the owner’s attempts to keep people away, this (I think woman?) peeks into a hole in the side of the box, and we see that it’s a human eyeball orbiting in a circle inside the box. She screams, and that’s how the show ended, or that’s how it ended for me – likely because my 5-year old self went scurrying into the nearest bed and buried myself into the blankets and pillows. Nightmares ensued.
Ok, so consider that I’ve given you fair warning. Enough, you say. Very well. Just put your drink down before you look at this. Be nice to your computer screen. Be prepared for nightmares.
Exhibit one, Poozilla:
Missing from the effect here – besides the nuclear war between the colors – is that the creator of this abomination apparently wasn’t satisfied with a simple two-dimensional picture. Oh, goodness no. They went with a THREE DIMENSIONAL effect, using a massive full-size Fresnel lens over the entire picture so that the metal-framed damnation appears to be more alive and vibrant in its reach-out-and-explode-your-head assault.
So there I stood in stunned silence, a palpable, nauseating miasma of mixed feelings erupting in my throat that began to rip me apart in several directions. The sheer and utter hideousness of it, the assault on any sensibility, the questions, and the myriad of objections, all gave way to the feeling of helplessness that it had been seen. I heaved, choked, farted and inhaled a snorted laugh all at the same time.
And I was terrified.
My analytical mind jammed up like a tilted pachinko machine. What’s with that apocalyptic log-jam background? Or is it the rubble of some poor city? Is that a toxic cloudburst above it, showering down in a gloomy green graveyard deluge of death? And those flowers, arranged so thoughtfully, and carefully, almost as if Poozilla was cheerfully breathing out some kind of fragrant but lethal fireball of doom.
The Coup De Grâce of course, is the powder-blue carpet our happy white Poozilla is so prominently placed upon. As foregrounds go, this one is definitely DEA, schedule-A, psychotropic. Just where did they find that anyway? Please, don’t answer, I really don’t want to know. It’s more than enough to consider that somewhere, at some time, there was a carpet factory that actually cranked this stuff out.
And did I mention it was metal framed?
“Of course it is,” you reply. What else would it be framed with? What else could hold such magnificence? What else could contain it?
And there, if you will note, to the right, in a picture hung on the same wall just behind Poozilla is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ depicted in his passion as He suffers on the cross to atone for the sins of a lost and dying world. Is it my imagination, or does He appear to be fixing a gaze on Poozilla as well? As if He hadn’t suffered enough already. The ignominy of it all.
Well, there it is. Poozilla. Now you’ve seen it, you can never un-see it.
To be fair, this was probably someone’s beloved pet from the 1970’s and they likely paid a small fortune to have some travel-agent / passport photographer snap this shot of Petunia and for an extra $35, they got the deluxe, stereo-3D package complete with chain-link metal frame to last a lifetime.
If you know me at all, you know that I like to wrap stories around things to make sense out of them. Especially things that make no sense whatsoever. Like our Poozilla here.
So it is, after framing, with Petunia in tow, Bert and Ethel (Petunia’s imaginary owners) probably jumped back in their 1972 Winnebago and drove down the road with their brand new picture firmly affixed to the wall above the bed where Petunia could watch over them day and night. At some point in the retired couples’ lifetime journey, like all of ours, the road sadly ended and they had to park it. It’s entirely possible someone found Poozilla in the slowly rotting, half-decimated remains of their old Winnebago in a forgotten, dusty-hot backlot of a U-Pull-It in southern Arizona.
It’s also possible that Ethel, having buried Burt a few years back, found this garish reminder of their canine homunculus while cleaning out the last of his side of the closet and promptly disposed of it at a thrift store where it was picked up by a near-sighted color-blind antique collector with a texture fetish.
We just don’t know.
Judging by the robustness of the metal frame alone, this thing could likely survive world war III. And for only $39, it can be all yours if you – perish the thought – actually like it.
One thing is for certain. Now that I’ve written about it and photographed it, we’re all stuck with it.