A Great Depression
The iconic picture of utter grief strewn across the weathered face of a beyond weary, Depression-era mother flanked by her destitute children has always struck me as genuinely, undeniably real. Her pained expression. The despair in her eyes. The aura of absolute vulnerability – all of it real. Peering into that photograph, the reality of her situation – the reality of America at that time – couldn’t be any clearer. It’s right there in front of my eyes, captured honestly for all of time. And then I snap back to the present, shift my eyes from the photo on the wall of the well-scrubbed coffee shop, and take a long look around. My eyes rest on a girl I know, sitting alone at a table. She is a fake blonde with fake boobs, a fake nose, and a fake tan. She wipes fake sugar off her fake leather jacket while talking into her cell phone with fake laughs, fake emotion, and fake facial expressions. She sees me, then flashes an enormous fake smile. My eyes trail back to the picture on the wall. Suddenly, I feel sick.