The Giant Naked Man in My Mother's Basement

The Giant Naked Man in My Mother’s Basement

It’s a long story. <WINK WINK>


Many years ago, I was pursuing a BFA in Painting. Because I don’t like money.

When you’re trying to be an arteest it’s easy to get caught up in the game of Go Big or Go Home. BIG ART means you are totally taking yourself seriously. So I put together a three-foot by six-foot canvas then proceeded to stare at it for six months.

I finally dragged it into class one day when we had a model scheduled. A guy. Nude mais oui.

Our model was young and swarthy. Anyone who’s been with a dark-haired gentleman knows that his manhood is a decidedly different color than the rest of him. Let’s just say I worked a lot of salmony-beige and some very specific—and thick—areas of periwinkle-plum.

I moved fast, I had three hours and 18 square feet of canvas to cover. I wasn’t going for an accurate portrait so much as You get this is a dude, right?

After graduation, my future husband Greg and I didn’t really have a place for a brashly colorful six-foot tall painting of a nude stranger and his voluminous, yet casually draped peen. The naked man took up residence in my mother’s basement where he winked at her, legs boldly spread, every time she did the laundry.

My mother made a few comments over the years asking when the “Giant Naked Man” might be moving on. Oddly, my décor never screamed out for an enormous nude heavy on the salmon and periwinkle. We didn’t live in Key West, nor did we work in porn.

When my mother put her house on the market, the naked man had to go. I pulled him off the stretcher (which I suppose I could have done years ago) and packed him away.

Since then, my mother has mentioned the Giant Naked Man several times—an unsettling number of times. I began to wonder if she suffered some lingering trauma having shared a basement with him for so long.

A few weeks ago the Giant Naked Man came up AGAIN. Seriously?? WTF is her deal with this painting? Then the truth came out.

“Oh my God!” she said, “I thought that was Greg!”

“Wait . . . what?? NO! That wasn’t GREG!”

“Well, he had dark hair and kind of looked like Greg . . . ”

“You thought I put a massive, six-foot tall painting of my naked boyfriend in your basement? Then married him and left this huge, aggressively nude portrait of my husband staring at you for 15 years?”

She was giggling now, “Well, yeah!”

“Good Lord.”

Hey, Mom! Get a load of what—and WHO!—I’m doing at school! In case you were wondering if I was putting that birth control prescription to good use, I AM. Whaddya think of his penis? Pretty good, right? Right??

Brings a whole new meaning to let me paint you a picture.


Thank you SheKnows Media for choosing this piece as a 2015 Voice of the Year



This original piece by Jessica Ziegler was written exclusively for In the Powder Rooma division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Featured image © 

Never miss a thing. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Jessica Ziegler’s schizophrenic, creative flailings can be found in various places around the internet: at as the designer, illustrator and occasional writer where she can be as snarky as she wants, as the author and illustrator of four customizable children’s books at where she really needs to tone it down, and as a professional web designer and developer since 2000, where people keep insisting that she act like a grown up.

Keep the conversation going...



    • says

      hmmm, that’s true, maybe I’M the one with the issue! I remember that day so well, the sun streaming into the art studio setting his pubic hair aflame… oh, missed opportunity! how you haunt me!

  1. says

    Aren’t moms delightful? I don’t think I’ve ever been with a blond guy to notice the difference of color scheme. You describe a Maui sunset. My husband has dark hair. I’m going to have to take another look in daylight.

  2. says

    Jessica, I am DYING. This is the best thing I have read in the history of EVER. And I don’t know why, but the word ‘periwinkle’ was the kicker for me. I am such a juvenile.

    I LOVE this piece.

    • says

      I’m so glad!! It was just so ridiculous, I can’t believe she thought that for so long and honestly she has been out of that house for at least 10 years and is JUST mentioning this now??

  3. Lisa Hewitt says

    I love that you saved the canvas, almost as much as I now love your mother. Great Post!

  4. says

    I freaking LOVE your mom! BEST story ever!!! Did you ever tell your husband that your mom thought it was him all that time?

  5. says

    Hilarious. I got my BFA in studio art and had tons of unfinished nude paintings after a semester of figure painting. I threw them in the dumpster while we were moving and drove by later to find another couple fishing them out with these “can you believe someone threw these AWAY???” looks on their faces.

    • says

      So funny! I used to drop large garish pottery sculptures around campus if I didn’t want them, they always managed to find a home.

    • says

      it’s funny, when you’re in these classes, the models usually walk around during the break looking at the work in progress, and you KNOW they are going to do this, so you TRY not to be either too generous and look like a perv or too conservative and give them a complex. It’s all very fraught.

      • says

        I love fraughtiness! Up close and personal is the go-to way to capture on canvas what they are fraught about. Do they don robes when they do the walk of fame? A chilly studio provides an entirely different perspective on tension and angle, but I’m no artist. Just an observant mom enjoying the spin cycle.

  6. says

    This is the best story I’ve heard all day! Periwinkle and plum! They sound like wedding colors (like “blush and bashful”).

    One of my college boyfriends was taking a studio art class, and when he broke up with me, he painted me crucified upside down on a giant penis. but he was a redhead.

  7. says

    This is so hilarious! I was snorting and deep breathing the whole way through it! I too went to Art School, only my major was drawing. So yeah, lots of nudes. So. Many. Nudes.
    Let’s just say I have many peens and tatas in my attic. And no, they’re not on VHS.

  8. says

    I am DYING right now! Hilar! Although I was hoping there was a link to Giant Naked Man. Real or painted…no?

  9. says

    The best part is that she was fine with it thinking it was you significant other. My mom probably would have faced it toward the wall or something. Haha!

  10. says

    That is hilarious. Your mom sounds like a hoot. You should have posted the painting and a picture of Greg so we could see if there was a resemblance. Ha, ha. And what did Greg think of this?

  11. says

    I honestly don’t remember the last time I cried from laughing so hard, but that was the MOST FUN read I’ve had in forever! I kept thinking I’d read the punchline and then it kept getting funnier!

  12. says

    “his voluminous, yet casually draped peen” is going to be worked into our family Christmas card this year. Some how, some way.

  13. Melinda says

    My mom used to hide my “how to draw humans” book under other things because someone might see it and there was part of a BUTT CRACK on the cover.

    I don’t think that painting would have gone in her basement.