I got an invitation yesterday to the opening of an art exhibit at The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, NC because our family lent a painting to the show a couple years ago and it has been traveling around with other pre-pop art paintings by Roy Lichtenstein.
Today I looked around the house and couldn't find it so I must have dropped it outside in the parking lot where I found it next to my car. Right away I noticed it was stained, carefully picked it up, and sniffed the most foul odor, some animal had pissed on it.
Not only was it an announcement of the opening but an invitation for cocktails, conversation, and dinner was included-- it's a party! In very small type below it said “Cocktail attire, Hors d'oeuvres & host bar, Valet parking.”
I looked up cocktail attire and it's black suit and tie with black leather shoes.
Where am I going to get that? I don't own that costume, never had a suit, can you still rent stuff like that?
Here is my big opportunity to leave country bumpkin behind and mix with the swells and I don't have the required clothes?
Of course the chances I'll get in my car in a month and drive across the country are close to nil but a guy can dream, right? What about the swell ladies there in their cocktail attire, sleek slick black dresses, perhaps low-cut, maybe I would meet the woman of my dreams.
Here I am finally invited to a high society event as a legitimate lender of a valuable painting would I rather just lie in my hammock for hours in the afternoon safely removed from highways, gas stations, and covid variants? (I don't fly.)
What if I just arrived in my normal clothes or wear my father's old sports coat with the professor patches on the elbows and my green felt hat? Could I pass for an eccentric billionaire who just does his own thing? Yet there is something attractive about dressing up in the uniform of the ruling class, perhaps have a few too many drinks, and make a splendid fool of myself trying to lure an arty dowager out onto the patio or behind a manicured hedge to smoke some of Phillipsville's finest.
August 24th in North Carolina, really? My dream girl lives nearby but she recently fell in love with some lucky guy so that might be awkward. It would put me in the vicinity, in striking distance of my mother's funeral in Vermont two weeks later, something I was planning to miss with guilt and regrets or maybe Zoom in though I still have my Zoom cherry.
I received another invitation recently to my 50th high school reunion at Fort Wayne Northside on September 30th and though I'm deeply into the nostalgic past I figured I would end up missing that also. A couple days after that one is the 50th for Burris elementary school in Muncie, Indiana.
I have no communication with any of my old classmates so why do I feel drawn to those twin reunions? What does it say that I want to go and won't go? That I reject my past or it's too far away? What does it say about me that I'm probably going to miss all of these once-in-a-lifetime events?
I would go back to the reunions because I think I still got it going on, for my age, though if I were a haggard hulk I probably wouldn't consider it. How would I make a splash with those old folks, my putative people? Get drunk, high, and dance like a crazy hippie? Collate a chapbook of my favorite stories and hand them out to the survivors? Hope someone brought their 40-something daughter so I could make a fool of myself flirting with her? (Because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be attracted to one of the old biddies from my class.) No, that won't happen but it would be great.
I suppose I could write a fun speech to give to my classmates, hey maybe I'm doing that now!
How can I not go to my one and only mother's burial and memorial service? Why would she do this to us, haunting us from the urn, her ashes soon to be buried beside or on top of her second husband in a cemetery in a little Vermont village a few miles from the Appalachian Trail? She's haunting us by making us travel from all over the country: New York, Florida, Washington, and maybe California. (If my sister here decides to go and I'm the only one skipping it then massive guilt fo sho.)
Is this why people often say “No Services” on their death notice so as not to make family and friends travel great expensive distances to gather and officially say goodbye? Are they afraid no one or few would come? Or maybe they say that because they're ashamed of their lives and just want it all to go away with a whimper and a sigh, that they're not worthy, that they're shit and don't deserve an event or anything--adios and goodbye?
Would I wear my cocktail attire not only at the dinner and art opening but also at my reunions and my mom's funeral? (Parenthetically I just ruined my one pair of nice black slacks last week I've had twenty-five years when I stained it with plumber's glue.)
My Lichtenstein invitation stinks and after leaving it out on the pack porch for awhile I finally brought it in and put it on the recycling box. Should I call them and ask for a replacement? (A sister just texted that I should also ask them if anyone wants to buy the painting.)
Is cocktail attire in my future? Put the garden on drip and drive away? Face it, it could change my life, because the way things are going I should say “No Services.”
* * *
Apparently people lie all the time for a variety of reasons and I find it lazy and unnecessary. (I think honesty is always the best policy and yes your ass DOES look big in those jeans, thanks for asking.)
Also cheating in school seemed repugnant and I never did except for one time: Our junior high basketball team was practicing on a Saturday, I snuck into the science classroom, stole a copy of the upcoming test, and still got a lousy grade.
When we were cab drivers in New York we often did some trips “off the meter” which we called stealing or cheating. I usually did my off-the-meter runs, about ten dollars worth, at the beginning of my shift to get them out of the way. The rest of the night I just got 41% of the metered fares from the company.
Well, when it was time to do taxes who didn't lie, cheat, and steal? (It's nice not filing anymore although I'm missing out on Gavin's pandemic, gas, and inflation handouts.)