Monthly Archives: February 1994


Note: There should be a picture of a 1970s-ish couple here, which came with the frame.

Now look at these two.

The idea, I think, that the Carr picture frame company is trying to get across here is that if you buy their frame, you, too, can nonchalantly sling a racket over your shoulder, you, too can hold three tennis balls in the palm of one hand, you, too can fearlessly fold your collar over a zip-down sweatshirt, and goddamit, you can wear wristbands if you want to, too.

When you buy a Carr frame you get these people along with it, absolutely free. If you like, you can just leave them in there and hang them on your wall to remind yourself that love does indeed exist in its purest form. In fact, considering that this photo is the model, the portrait against which all portraits will be judged, it’s entirely possible that Carr, ltd. is saying that what we have here, locked in 5 x 7 glossy, is the absolute, ultimate relationship.

The absolute, ultimate relationship may be nice if you happen to be in it. But there can only be one absolute, ultimate relationship in the whole cosmos and face it, it’s pretty likely that even if you are seeing someone, your relationship ain’t it. If you’re looking for Truth in Romance, it all comes back to these two. They are packaged not only as lovers, but as an ideal. This is the picture you see on the mantels of everybody you don’t know, and it is precisely that universality—everybody knows these people, even if no one has actually met them—that makes them absolute and ultimate. They are together and they are smiling and that is all you know about them. They are frozen in the bliss of an eternally perfect relationship.

Carr has to be working in cahoots with The Man on this one. These people are shoved down your throat. You have no choice but to buy them when you buy a frame. Until you unscrew it, take out the metal backplate and that piece of brown cardboard from the middle, you absolutely must look at them, you are forced to deal with these people. You have to. Then you have to ask yourself why you and your significant other never play any tennis, or maybe you think back to the one time when you did and you couldn’t serve and then when you finally hit a good one you got in an argument over whether it was in or out, which eventually became an argument over who’s selfish and what the hell do I want from this relationship, which eventually became a discussion about stopping the car and letting me out right here and never calling me again because I’m changing my number.

Beyond the fact that They Are Love, here’s how you can tell that these two are in an ideal relationship. First of all, check out this guy’s beard. Perfect, neatly trimmed, just like the ladies love it. This guy has hair all over his face yet he’s still sensitive; he has mastery over his manhood. That dynamic of macho control carries over to the wristbands. This guy sweats and he accepts it, but that’s no reason to get his grip all slimy.

Now look at her body language. Notice her racket is touching his heart. It’s the tennis motif that makes this photo stand out, so the racket, the sword of the game, the thing that makes it all happen, ultimately emerges as the ultimate symbol of the active principle of their relationship. By touching his heart with that wand, she’s getting a vibe straight from her man’s very soul. Also notice that she is closed, her arms folded, while he’s spread out and embracing. These are opposite forces that play off each other. Carr Frames knows that when you’re looking for a lover, you’re looking for what you don’t have, whether it’s a huggable, warm personality or an hugging, extroverted character. Also he has wristbands and she doesn’t, which has to factor in there somewhere.

Though he’s undeniably a handsome devil, this guy isn’t afraid to be honest about his body when he’s with his woman. He probably smells pretty bad, what with just having played three sets and all, but he’s not ashamed to put that right arm flush against that barn door, go ahead, put that pit in her face. Because she accepts you, man, she knows you’re trying. You’re a little fat, you have kind of bad teeth, your clothes are kind of cheesy. But that’s OK. (The vivid colors of the original are unfortunately lost in this black-and-white reproduction—his shirt and shorts are white with brown stripes and her jacket is custard yellow with blue piping.)

And then, of course, there’s this whole issue of the three tennis balls in one hand. It’s an assertion, again, of unleashed full-throttle testosterone fury; most wimps can only hold two balls at a time. It’s a cute little prankish gesture toward his lover, kind of like giving her rabbit ears, that shows th thateir relationship has its light side. It’s also really phallic.

In the next few days, you may run into these two when you’re out looking for Valentine knick-knacks. They can be intimidating. But at the same time, perhaps they are a constant, energetic reminder of what a crazy game love is, with its foot-faults and aces, its unforced errors and its triple match points. Then again it’s just as possible that they’re models hired by the frame company, that they’ve never met each other, and the only thing on either of their minds is how to get the other into their hot tub tonight.

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February Mood Pilgrims

Now that it’s February, it’s time to consider indulging in one of the month’s hallowed traditions: holing yourself up in your room for a weekend and not telling anyone where you are. Generally you don’t even need to decide ahead of time when you’re going to partake—let the wonderful month of February decide for you! It’s hard to say whether relationship problems, bad grades, annoying rooming fights, or just a general lack of photons is going to drive you into self-inflicted quarantine, but it’s going to happen to you in the next 28 days. Remember, you can’t fight it, but you can be prepared.

Before you get started with your preparations, remember that above all, you want attention. In the worst-case scenario, you avoid every social and academic pillar of your life and no one notices. Don’t let that happen. Draw a few quick sketches of skulls and place them in strategic positions around your room. This will raise the curiosity of your roommates. Keep drawing those skulls, painting them on the walls if necessary, until you detect that they’re starting to worry about you.

Whenever by necessity you must come into contact with anyone you know, be sure to stare blankly and sigh. Eat alone in the dining hall and send occasional longing glances to your friends across the room. But run away any time anyone gets too close. (And don’t forget, when storming out of a room, push to get out, pull to get in. And make sure your fly is up.)

Since you’ll be spending all your time in your bedroom—if you don’t have a single, just pretend your roommate isn’t there—it’s important to build a comfortable environment for yourself. Naturally, going to the dining hall is a blatant no-go, so it’s a good idea to stock some staples: a box of Crunch Berries, some wacky-shaped pasta, Pop-tarts, a pack of Fruit Stripe, a case of Jolt—these are some of the more obvious purchases. It’s kind of a hassle to prepare sandwiches, but in the end you’d probably be glad you took the trouble to whip up a few fluffernutters. Alcohol is, of course, optional. But then again, sometimes it’s the key that makes the blues make sense. Just don’t get destructive.

You will very, very definitely need music for your hermitage. Make yourself a few mix tapes. It’s completely up to you which songs you choose to include on them, but as a general rule of thumb at least half of them should remind you of that awesome relationship you had last summer. Don’t be afraid to feature songs that call forth warm, happy memories: they’ll be all the more ironically depressing when you play them in your hermitage. If this is an emergency and you don’t have time to make tapes, Morrissey’s Bona Drag will do nicely.

It’s Friday afternoon, you have the food, you have the music, now it’s time to set yourself up. Anytime you’re attempting temporary flight from the steely grips of a twisted, unfair reality, remember to dress comfortably. Often you can feel more sorry for yourself if you’re wearing particularly ugly clothes—like that just-a-little-too-small rugby shirt that says “IZOD” across its front in 24-inch letters, or that custard yellow sweatshirt that someone left in your room last year and you’ve been using to mop up spilled beer and/or yogurt.

The room itself will need sprucing up. Candles, colored light bulbs, and black lights are musts, since your overhead or that crappy halogen can be so oppressive. Since your bed will be your base of operation, be sure to have extra pillows and blankets. Surplus blankets can also be used to make a fort, the perfect place to hide if one of your roommates ventures into your shrine to try to find you. (If they call out your name, either saying nothing at all or responding “I died” is appropriate.)

Once you’ve closed yourself in for the weekend, it is vitally important to avoid all contact with the outside world. Trips to the bathroom should be limited to two a day, max. One of the disadvantages of stocking that liter of Jack Daniel’s is that the more times you go to the bathroom, the more you amplify your chances of running into—and talking to—someone. If you are forced into human interraction, mumble, twitch, and don’t make eye contact. If you are at all tempted to talk to this person in anything but the most evasive manner, abandon your plans for weekend solitude completely: you clearly don’t hate people enough.

You’ll be surprised how time will just seem to have wings when you’re alone in your room. You can choose from a vast array of quiet and contemplative activities that will allow you to brood with little effort. Many experienced February mood pilgrims simply recommend sleeping. It’s very possible to sleep 20 to 22 hours of the day; if you are unable to sleep that much, at least try to throw off your sleeping patterns enough so that you’re waking in the evening and going to sleep, or passing out, at dawn. This disruption of the sleep cycle will carry over throughout the month, not only serving to remind you of your joyous weekend, but also becoming fodder for “sleeping disorder” dean’s excuses.

Sleep, however, is always plentiful, and it’s best not to waste these precious few days on something you can do just as easily when you’re happy. This is an ideal time to get in touch with the little poet inside you. Write a few verses, accompanying them with harmonica. Read a few Raymond Carver stories and look at photos. Read old letters and write new ones that you don’t plan on ever sending. Rant into a dictaphone, read comics, play solitaire. By Sunday you may even be in the mood to make a few crank calls. Smoke a carton of smokes and, as you start to get a little lonely and start missing people, drink to old friends.

The next morning, pour a bucket of cold water on your roommate while they’re in the shower. This is February. And remember, anyone who makes fun of fur-lined mocassins never owned a pair.

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