On Symbolism

Several times this summer, the Metaphorical Adoption Maternity Portraits that I posted last year have received a burst of attention.  On Xander and Alana’s part, I’m sure they’re ready to move on with their lives; not only are they busy with their kids, but I’m certain that they have no desire to become the Faces of Modern Adoption, no matter how fleetingly or ironically.  On my part, several people have suggested that I capitalize upon these brief flickers of success by doing more wacky photos.  As in, starting my own photo studio specializing in deliberately silly family portraits.

This seems like an excellent way to quickly run a single funny idea into the ground, smooth over the original lighthearted-yet-still-slightly-political motivation behind the originals, and immediately exhaust any actual creative inspiration.  I mean, consider if I tried to replace the beach ball with a smallish watermelon:

 See?  It’s like a baby belly, but with a watermelon?  And it is entirely unfunny?

Peter's pregnancy portrait

(Thoroughly funny to me, however, was Pete deciding to shove the watermelon up his shirt and swing a snow shovel up over his shoulder.  “What does a snow shovel have to do with anything?” I asked.  “What do any of the props used in maternity portraits have to do with anything?” he replied.  Good point.)

Much like the notorious beach ball, one could, however, question the implied symbolism of the watermelon.  Would choosing a watermelon over a beach ball point to the organic nature of the process, while the plastic beach ball instead implies a degree of cheap artificiality?

But what about the inevitable fate of the watermelon? Does it imply an imminent C-section? Or is it a subtle anti-choice political statement?

Lastly, does the seedless nature of this watermelon represent an empty womb? And does this mean that we’re promoting cannibalism?

See?  You really can’t read too much into it.  Except that — as you might have guessed — I am actually pregnant with a human baby, not a watermelon.  A boy, due mid-January.  And it is just possible that, while there may be a dearth of maternity photos on this here blog, you might be hearing a bit more about it.

All we need to do is move ourselves halfway across the country first, and buy a second car.

6 thoughts on “On Symbolism

  1. My wife and I had a great prenatal and birth experience* at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. We had the security of being in a hospital, but the room was relatively homey and our son was delivered by a hippie midwife named “Moonlady Whitedove” or whatever the Hell it was. The best of both worlds, really. No, I do not work there. Too, an hour’s drive might be more than you’re planning on. It’s just east of downtown, near Deep Ellum. There are numerous top-flight hospitals in Dallas.

    I’m guessing you’re moving to Denton or Commerce (this is no Mass., there are only so many credible universities around), which are two very, VERY different places — the former a boho college town with tons of live music, taverns, etc., the latter a sleepy academic enclave. (My first college girlfriend — er, that would make her my first girlfriend — was from Commerce and her father was in the Physics Department and quite likely still is.)

    Well wishes from a Dallasite who has checked your site every few months for years, ever since some Salon writer or another linked to it. Mainly because academia and its attendant peripataeia (sp? is it even a word?) was my “road not taken,” so I experience it vicariously through you guys. Plus you’re witty and erudite and all that stuff. Cheers! Two new adventures at once!

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    * I myself didn’t have “birth experience” per se — on that occasion it was my son’s turn — but I’m sure Moonlady Whitedove could have arranged it.

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