Jul 3rd, 2008

New York Telephone Conversation

It was one of those days for me on the train. The morning commute included a pair of women putting on their makeup in tandem across the aisle from me. The one was a little embarrassed and a little bit happy to be photographed while doing it and the other was totally oblivious. They both saw me shooting and just didn’t care. I didn’t get the money shot which was of the lady on the left circling her eye with liquid concealer, like some sort of inverse panda.

dueling compacts

This was followed by this, which while ample, resembled more an apple pancake. Not all round and juicy as the name would have you believe.

ample bottom jeans

Both of which pale compared to the ride home. The Person Dressed In Black and I were seated next to some grumbling old gomer who was discoursing (loudly of course, it is always loudly) about his day in court. No. Literally. He was all on about what the judge said and what his attorney said and what the other guy said and whether or not there was an acceptable offer on the table and why should he take less than the previous offer and even the judge said that and he was customer service employee of the year/quarter for ages running and and and. And of course I, of the delicate sensibilities kept shooting him the stink eye and he kept ignoring me. Such is life.

As we got to the end of the trip, a man of an uncertain age pulled a sheet out of a sketchbook and handed it to the PDB and me. It was a little gesture drawing of the two of us, and while not an exact likeness, you might have been able to pick us out of a line-up.

street portrait in which my torso and hip get noticed

I’ve seen worse police sketches. We were charmed and a little unsure of what this implied or entailed. But we laughed and said of all the people on the train to draw, we were both artists and had both gone to art school. The artist-in-residence wasn’t sure if we were putting him on, and the PDB said, no, both of us held BFAs. The gnarly old gomer (who was now off the phone) piped up and said that if the artist had told us he was a chef, that we would have told him we went to chef school. That’s when the PDB offered that she had, in fact, attended Parson’s in New York City, and I had to mumble University of Miami (damn my portfolio for not getting into Rhode Island School of Design and my young self for having had too much fun at UM to consider a transfer).

Well, the Artist-in-Residence said he’d like $4 per face, and the PDB and I looked at each other and said, Uh, no, but thanks. I offered the drawing back. He told me to keep it. The train stopped, we wished one another well and deboarded. As we were going down the stairs, I saw that I was still next to the loud gomer, and said, and exactly where do you get off questioning my honesty? And he said it was easy, because I was a pain in the ass. What? Yeah, you kept staring at me while I was on the phone, like I was talking too loud. Well, I said, you were. No, he yelled, he was not, and by the way, he added, you (meaning your narrator) are cheap, lady. You should have at least given that guy a dollar.

That stung. I’m not cheap. But, dude. I didn’t ask for my portrait to be scribbled by a stranger on the train, and I offered it back to him if he thought it was worth money or saving for a retrospective of his street work. I am a BFA, I am still a working artist. And mostly, I did not need or want to hear all about your law suit. So, I may very well be a pain in the ass, but not because of the reasons you stated.