Night at the Museum

21 Mar

I didn’t oversleep so much as my body decided to remain in Occupy Bed mode a full 20 minutes longer than my finely honed morning schedule should permit. From a blog perspective, the only option is to type faster.

My significant other and I did something that rocked the universe on it’s axis last night–we left the house after dinner. Anyone feel the aftershocks?

It would have been more earth shaking if we had actually gone out for dinner, but the significant other cooked corned beef and cabbage for dinner–a personal favorite of mine. Ray has this cute way of never exactly knowing what day it is and he always pretends to be oblivious to holidays and special events, so he seemed happily perplexed last week when both Publix and Winn Dixie had corned beef on sale. “What’s that all about?”  I like to view this obliviousness as a “devil may care” attitude rather than the symptoms of early dementia, as he has always been this way.

We didn’t eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day–we had Chinese in fact, but we did have corned beef and cabbage and potatoes last night.

Then, to her horror, we put the dog in the laundry room, which is where we put her when we’re going out and she isn’t coming along. The dog was all, “How can you be going out? You already had dinner and it is a school night!” She hasn’t been this perplexed since that Sunday a few weeks ago when I actually did some house cleaning.

Off we went to the Cummer Museum of Art. Tuesdays from 4pm to 9pm, admission is free and there is an exhibit we were both eager to see.

Apparently the museum came into some money since the last time I was there. There were rooms I don’t remember ever seeing before. There was actually more art than we had time to take in before the museum closed, so we honed in on the Japanese woodblock prints and then the exhibit of Impressionism and Post Impressionism from the High Museum of Art.

I love a good art museum and, as you can tell, it had been a while since I had been there. I was really grooving on the adventure of leaving the house after dinner (and on a week night!)–fully knowing that it was bound to be DARK before we returned home. Heady stuff. Then there was the art itself–one transcendent experience after another.

I should have known something would go awry.

My significant other has a penchant for getting into trouble. Yes, people, there is a price to pay for having a thing for “bad boys.” Only a bad boy, gone to seed, could get in trouble in an art museum.

As you may know, I love the human race. Each and every one. But there is one particular group that tends to get on my nerves.

That group would be museum guards.

I am sure they serve a valuable purpose. I am sure the High Museum would not have loaned these priceless treasures to the backwater of Jacksonville, FL without the promise of adequate security. So, at some level, I am sure guards are good. But museum guards have a special knack for killing my art induced buzz.

It began when we were looking at the Japanese woodblock prints. I am transfixed on a scene of Mount Fuji and some clod of a guard walks into that particular gallery with his walkie talkie ablaze with babble. And you know every single person who talks into a walkie talkie has to put their mouth as close to the speaking hole as possible. So not only was some woman broadcasting, she was broadcasting unintelligibly. Which required the guard to respond. Which required her to broadcast some more. In a basically silent gallery, this was a huge distraction.

Thank the Art Gods, the clod moved along.

Then we made our way to the Impressionism show. Shortly after we arrived, a woman guard managed to drop her walkie talkie on the floor. BLAM! My buzz was ailing, if not already dying.

Ray and I walked from painting to painting, taking in each masterpiece. Sometimes leaning in to look at details, sometimes stepping back to get the full effect of the work. I thought that is the way you are supposed to look at art.

I had just finished taking in a delightful Toulouse-Lautrec and had moved on to the next piece. Ray stood before the Toulouse-Lautrec. He stepped back. He leaned in.

“Sir, you’re standing too close!”

We both heard it. We both ignored it. My first thought was, “someone is telling Ray you can’t really appreciate this masterpiece if you are standing too close.” But no.

This museum guard stood beside Ray and began gesturing to demonstrate how terribly important it was that Ray keep a certain distance from the painting. “You have to step back!”

I’m just gonna say it–WTF?

Ray muttered “asshole” under his breath, which is really a shockingly restrained response coming from him. Having known him a few decades, I knew that the wheels were turning and was waiting for the smoke to start coming out of his ears. The phrase, “He’s gonna blow!” came to mind.

We moved along for a little while. I tried to make small talk about the pictures and Ray managed to hold up his end of the conversation. Then he said, “I’m going to go ask that asshole his name!” “Why?” “So I can report him!”

It is difficult to be stern when speaking in a library or museum voice. One tends to hiss. But as sternly as I could, I said, “Do not make a scene! This is why we never leave the house after dark!”

This illogical statement seemed to sooth the savage grump for a moment or two. I began taking in the art again.

Taking in the art. Taking in the art.

Then Ray hissed something: “Look! That woman is standing too close to that painting!” I looked. He was right. I had already observed this attractive blond woman in close quarters with another painting. Here she was again–her face right there next to a painting. Ray and I both looked over at the guard. He was just standing around, looking the other way while some patron committed a serious breach of art observer protocol.

This travesty of justice would not stand. Ray marched over to the guard. I did not hear what he said, as he was using museum hissy voice, but he gesticulated in the direction of the blond lady whose nose was only inches from an Impressionist (or Post-Impressionist) canvas.

I watched the guard walk over to the woman. They chatted briefly, and she stepped back. The guard walked away.

This was not enough for Ray. Oh, no. He had to go over to the blond lady and strike up a conversation so the two of them could  commiserate  about the ridiculous demands of the museum guard.

The woman had a French accent. She was young, blond and quite lovely. She is exactly the sort of person one expects to see when visiting an art museum.

Ray came back to me and told me about their conversation. “She said, (Ray did a bad French accent) ‘But this is how you look at paintings–you look close to admire ze brush strokes, you step back, you look at ze painting!'” (yes, Ray said “ze” instead of “the”–I told you his French accent was bad!)

Despite the altercation with the guard, I managed to find a transcendental moment or two–especially when I stood before a Monet. The museum announced they were closing, so the bad boy gone to seed and I stepped out into the night and drove home.

Who else can get in trouble at an art museum? Besides art thieves, I mean? A cautionary tale for anyone else who is attracted to bad boys. Let this be a lesson to you all.

I suppose this is the price one pays for leaving home after dinner. Life is such an adventure, isn’t it?

Happy Wednesday.

One Response to “Night at the Museum”

  1. Pamela N Red March 21, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Police and other people in uniform carrying important looking equipment and guns make up the rules as they go along. If you are pretty you get away with more. Being a plain Jane brunette, I never got away with much.

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