Big Billy – Picture this

Just about everything that drives ya crazy in the world starts out as somethin’ perfectly normal.

My lovely wife Minnie suffers from an awful addiction. She’s addicted to pictures.

Yis probably seen houses like ours before – every end table, coffee table, TV stand Big BIllyand windowsill has some kind of picture frame standin’ on it, and every wall got pictures hangin’ on it. Even if it ain’t really a wall – even if it’s just the six or seven inches between the wall and the edge of the door frame in the livin’ room leadin’ into the kitchen.

God help ya if you’re lookin’ for a place to sit your beer while you’re watchin’ the hockey game, or a glass of pop while you’re watchin’ a movie. On any table, you got about a half-inch clearance in any direction and if your finger nudges even a little bit the wrong way, the first picture knocks into the second picture and before you know it, it’s like one of them great big dominoes displays where they start topplin’ over and you can watch them all fall over in a wave around the room.

Which is why some of the frames got cracked glass, and some of them got no glass at all, with the picture just stuck in there with scotch tape. And don’t think I didn’t catch hell for every one of them I broke over the years.

It wasn’t always like this. I remember when we first got married, we had only one picture. It’s the 8 x 10 picture of us on our wedding day, and it’s still right in the middle of the wall above the couch. (Only now you’d never know there was a wall behind there because of all the other pictures around it.)

But then we had kids. And you know what happens when ya have kids? Every year, no matter what, you gotta scrape together enough money to make sure you get their school pictures done. And I don’t begrudge that – it’s nice to have pictures of them when they’re little, especially after they start to get older and change their looks a bit.

So that’s how it started. Our wedding picture, and then Little Bill’s Grade Primary school picture. Then Grade One, then Grade Two, then Grade Three, then Rosie’s Grade Primary school picture. Even though there’s only one more picture for each kid each year, I swear them school pictures multiplied like jack-rabbits on the wall.

The end table next to my chair became a shrine to our niece Cathy, Cyril and Joan’s daughter. Every school picture, with the frames in little rows around the lamp. Then Murph and his wife moved away and a picture of the four us at a new year’s dance popped up on top of the TV stand.

Then she thought it would be nice to have a picture of her parents and a picture of my parents in the room somewhere, so they went on the wall on either side of the picture window.

And ever since Cathy had a kid of her own – Little Jim – it seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry we know who has a grandchild or a niece or a nephew who has a christening or a birthday or a first communion gives us a picture and up they go.

I swear to cripes, there’s kids up on the wall in the livin’ room and I got no idea who they are.

Who’s that, Minnie? I’ll say, lookin’ at a new picture squeezed on top of the TV stand.

Oh, you know Evelyn from club? Well that’s her daughter-in-law’s sister’s little fella, Brian.

Her daughter-in-law’s sister’s… (I was shakin’ my head.) Why would she give you a picture of him? Have you ever even seen the kid?

Why would she give me a picture of him? (She asks, as if I’m crazy.) Just look at how cute he is in his little blue bow tie! (As if that explained everything.)

Uggh. What can you say to that? You know who I blame for all these damn pictures? The dollar stores. It used to be, if you had a picture and you wanted to put it up, it had to be an important picture, and you’d go to the Woolco or K-Mart and spend anywheres from $4.97 and up on a single frame. More than that if it was a bigger one.

But these dollar stores sell frames now, what, ten for a dollar? Well, maybe not that cheap, but even two for a dollar or a dollar each and pictures of kids we don’t know, that used to end up in an envelope in the junk drawer in the kitchen, are now takin’ up valuable beer coaster space in gold plastic frames.

Now, my son, Little Bill is still just a teenager, so he’s too young for me to offer this advice to yet, but if you’re a young fella and you’re thinkin’ about gettin’ married, you should know that everything is like this.

One wedding picture turns into dozens and dozens of pictures and one day while you’re balancin’ your beer on your knee because you got nowhere to put it down, you’ll realize there’s pictures of people you don’t even know on every flat surface in the room.

It starts off normal, but over time it drives you crazy. But it’s important to know that the good stuff works the same way. Them kind of little changes over time is also how I find myself tricked into eatin’ whole wheat bread and layin’ off the cigarettes and eatin’ the odd carrot instead of a bag of chips. There’s usually a method to Minnie’s madness, and I go along with things even if they drive me crazy, because in the end, I know she’s just tryin’ to keep me in the picture for as long as she can.

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