August 20, 2009

Great Moments in Art

Today Husband and I spent a vacation day in an art museum. Being inside the cool marble building is a great way to escape the dog days of summer. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places we did go!” We saw wonderful masterpieces by European and American artists, including some very famous pieces. How it fills the soul!

Here’s the problem.
We are the two stupidest people on the face of the earth.
Well, mostly me.

We decided to take the “Director’s Tour” and rented two electronic devices that are tape players with recorded comments about the art. By plugging in a three-digit number, you can learn the curators thoughts on the painting and artist, and possibly some historical context. The recorders, worn around the neck on a lanyard, are simple to operate, assured the nice man who rented two to us. "Any eight-year-old can do this."

After several hours, we took a lunch break and put the devices on the table. After lunch we returned to the far galleries where our self-guided tour stopped.

I tried to clear my machine by pressing the black square button, just like I did all morning. The machine is equipped with comments in four languages, English, French, Spanish, and Chinese. Something went terribly wrong. Somehow I accidentally changed mine to French.

I don’t speak French.

(Foreign languages are not my forte. I lasted just one year in Mr. Kidd’s Spanish I class in high school, and kept getting in serious trouble with my childhood friend M. When Mr. Kidd turned his back, M. or I would adjust the dials on his audio master board. Volume on the teacher’s headset rose way up or dropped way down to a whisper. This made the teacher quite angry.

What can I say? I was fourteen and a teacher’s child. My friend M. was also a teacher’s child. Teacher's children often exhibit squirrely behavior with teachers they have known outside the classroom since being in diapers.

M. also liked to haphazardly flip the pages of our sophomore English teacher’s book – she might be lecturing from a text of Macbeth. When she turned her back, M. turned the page and we moved right from the ugly witches and their brew to the agony of Lady Macbeth’s hand washing. Do you notice a theme here?)

In the art museum today, Husband said to me about the machine, “Let me take that one, I can fix it.” So we traded. Within ten seconds of trading with Husband, I had changed that one to French also. Husband doesn’t speak French either, though he did say a few choice words to me that may have been in a foreign tongue. He was unable to “fix” either of them so I returned to the helpful person who told us the machines were “simple and easy.” This man looked at me and said, “What DID you do to these?” and gave me two new ones. Au revoir. Quoth the raven.