Thursday, June 25, 2009

Defy This!

I enter the swankiest of swanky stores in New York City and hold my breath. I’m here on my own private girly-girl adventure. It’s just me, stepping boldly out of my safe cocoon, living out a fantasy, seeing friends and shows and art exhibits, inhaling as much culture as I can get, before jetting back to suburbia, economy-style. “Don’t forget to go to Bendel’s,” Diane tells me, before I leave. And so, I’m following orders. Diane is one of the world’s great shoppers. She believes in retail therapy, above all.

Of course, I won’t be spending a dime, but no one at Bendel’s needs to know that. I just want to browse and dream and admire expensive stuff. I want to ogle the gorgeous Lalique windows. I want to get out of here without opening my wallet. To do that, which I believe is my God-given right, I must first pass through a scary gauntlet of aggressive sales folk, a crazed group of well-trained individuals that use shame and reverse psychology to reel in customers. Yes, I’m talking about the Cosmetics Department. I thought L.A., the capital of youth and beauty, was tough on us gals. But New York kicks it up a dozen notches. I’m barely in the door when a man dressed in black grabs my hand and stares at my eyes with alarm.

“I’ve got the perfect thing for that,” he says.  “For what?” I ask, but I know where he’s going. I’ve been there before.  “The lines, dear. The bags. The dark circles. I have an age-defier you will love.”  “Really?” I say, with a hint of attitude. Oh, did he pick the wrong beeyotch!  “Absolutely,” he says, near-giddy, thinking he’s got a live one.  “You know what?” I say, as he lines up a bevy of potions for my eyes only. “What?” he asks, tallying up his commission. “I’m on vacation. I’m not going to buy anything.” His face drops. He might weep. I don’t care. In harsh economic times, insulting my boomer-thin skin doesn’t inspire me to spend. I walk away, defiantly. I send out a vibe so snarky, no one else dares invade my space. I may not be from New York, but I’m starting to feel like a native. I walk up a flight to Jewelry, ready to take on the world.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Art Appreciation

The phone rings early in the A.M. My caller i.d. tells me it’s the college boy. I assume something is wrong. This is how my sick mind works. Why else would he be calling me at 8:15? I brace myself. “Hello?”  “Hi, Mom, I wanted to tell you what just happened.”  I’m thinking, oh, no, uh-oh, here it comes. I take deep breaths, and recite from a script I keep by the phone for such parental moments. I clear my throat and try to sound as natural as possible.  “You can tell me anything, honey. Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out together.”
He forges ahead. “So, you know I’m in that art class, right?”

“Uh huh,” I say, supportively, although for the life of me, I remember zip about an art class. His major is environmental studies. What’s he doing in an art class? Does he have to do a diorama of the rain forest or melting ice caps? No wonder he’s calling me. I did all his dioramas for him back in the day. Maybe he needs me to fly up and do it for him. I run upstairs and grab my suitcase.  “You don’t remember I’m in art class?” he says. I detect a trace of hurt in his voice. “I didn’t say that.”

I shove the suitcase in the closet and start to relax. Whatever happened can’t be that bad. “Can you bail me out of jail?” That’s bad. Art class, I can handle. I mean, come on. What can go wrong in art class? It’s an elective.  However, I’m sure I can come up with something. It takes half a second for me to ponder a few possibilities: Has he gone and splattered paint on the walls, thereby destroying university property and landing in the dean’s office? Sounds expensive. I hope that’s not it. Has he gone all pre-school… thrown scissors at a classmate… stabbed out an eye? Sounds really expensive. I hope that’s not it, either. I start to get nervous again. He hasn’t committed any crimes against art since that ill-fated pottery class freshman year in high school. I refer to the unfortunate “kiln incident.” The rest is between our family, the school, and of course, the Reseda fire department. I sit down on the bed.

“Remind me again, what sort of art is it?” “It’s a drawing class. We draw stuff.”  Drawing. Paper and pencils. Nothing flammable. Good. I feel better already. I sit down on the bed and kick off my fuzzy slippers. “So, what happened, my darling?” “I just walked out of class.” I get nervous again. “You did? That’s not like you.”  “I know, but when I saw the old naked guy, I had to get out of there.” "Hang on. Why was there an old naked guy in class?” “We’re drawing nudes. Last week, we had a naked woman in there.” "How’d that go?” “Not too bad.”

“But you drew the line at the old naked guy?” “I’m not drawing the butt of an old naked guy.” “Well, it’s good you took a position on something.” “I felt pretty strongly about it.” “You should have stood in the middle of the room and shouted, ‘Hey! This wasn’t in the syllabus!” “So much for my career as an artist.”
“We’ll still love you, no matter how many old naked guys you refuse to draw.” “That makes me feel better.”
“That’s why I’m here.”