Monday morning, a most wonderful gift was bestowed upon the good people of Stanstead, and even some of the bad people. As they rose from their slumber and turned the page of their municipal-issued calendar to the new month of June, they were blessed – as they will be all month – with an image of me, lying face down on the grass, with one of our cats walking across my back.
The theme of the 2020 calendar is people and their pets. I submitted my image last year on a whim. “We can’t accept photos on whims,” town hall told me. “Our whim reader was destroyed in the Great Granite Crumble of 1903. Can you submit it in another format?” So I sent a jpeg.
I was thrilled to be among the 12 chosen entrants, especially for June – the start of summer, the month of Mark Wahlberg’s birthday, the end of the first half of The Year of the Cat. A grassy photo for a grassy month. (I could also have submitted a photo for October, which is a gassy month, but saner heads prevailed.)
So there I am: Mr. June.
But what does it mean?
This is what the somewhat good people of Stanstead now have the opportunity to ponder for the remaining days of the month – even longer if they decide that July just can’t hold muster to the glory that is “man with cat on back.” (Sorry, Chelsea and Mendy.) It’s a good question: why is that strikingly handsome man on the grass, and why is there a cat on his back?
Is it a metaphor for the unreliability of time, given that the photo represents June 2020 and yet was taken in 2013, and that the cat depicted is 5 years old, which is 36 in human years, and that the man is shown at age 47 in human years but is actually now 83 in grumpy old man years?
Is it an allegory for current affairs, as we lie with undeniable beauty all around us yet feeling utterly oppressed by the Four Pussycats of the A-paw-calypse: COVID-19, climate change, racial inequality and Donald Trump still actively drawing breath? No, of course not. When this photo was taken there was no COVID-19 and no one was taking the other things seriously.
Is it a symbol for not knowing the difference between a metaphor and an allegory?
Perhaps it represents my oppression by petdom, which I tend to feel when the cats wake us up at 5:00 am Every. Single. Morning.
Or maybe I am everyman and the cat represents contractors who don’t call back when they say they will, or confusion over rainbow flags – are they in solidarity with gay pride, symbols of hope during the pandemic or just pretty? – or the assault on my senses when I smell my daughter boiling up a package of pungent kimchi ramen while I’m simultaneously forced to hear the noxious laugh track from “Friends,” which she is watching for easily the thirtieth time.
Or perhaps the cat is crushing the rossiarchy. Have you ever crushed your rossiarchy? You won’t be able to archy for days!
Could it be a comment on artistic expropriation, given that they failed to credit my daughter, Katie Murray, for the photo? Probably not.
But I know you’re really curious about why the background for my June photo is a partially blurred map of Colorado. But are we not all, essentially, a partially blurred map of Colorado?
Maybe I’m not the man at all but I am actually the cat, given that I too am light of feet and empty of head.
So many possibilities: The cat is the eggman, I am the walrus?
It’s the final countdown?
Ceci n’est pas un pipe?
As you can see, there is no end to the layers in this perspicacious petcentric portraiture. You can surely understand now why Chelsea and Mendy don’t stand a chance. Why, I bet we’ll be getting to November and the Stansteadonians will be saying, “Gary and Hunnybunny are adorable and all but do they have depth! And cat hair!”
I’m sorry June is all I have to offer you, goodish folks of Stanstead. There’s always next year to look forward to, though, when the theme will be people and their vegetable gardens. Wait’ll you see what I can do with a cuke!