“Would you just stop that! You’re making everyone look at us!” Emily exasperatedly whispered at Caroline.
Caroline stood there, looking at the picture of sunflowers on one foot tilting her head sideways and the then the other. Her fidgeting to get just the right angle to examine Van Gogh’s masterpiece reminded Emily of the fish with the bends they had to flush last week in earth science class.
“Well, it kinda does and kinda doesn’t look like sunflowers….Isn’t that’s what the sign says it’s supposed to be?” whispered Caroline back at her classmate.
“Yeah, now be quiet, we’re suppose to be quiet. And would you stop it now? You’re embarassing me!” again in a loud whisper that seemed to echo in the museum gallery.
Emily was always self-conscious, taking careful pains not to be in people’s way in the grocery store, making sure she sat at the back of the class so everyone else could see around her. She knew she was big for her age and she hated it.
She wanted to be like Caroline, silly to the point of goofy. Caroline seemed to get away with murder. Small and funny in her own way, everyone smiled when they saw what Caroline was up to and it was usually something childish, thought Emily.
If a person could be an animal, Caroline was a monkey.
The class had begun to move to the next gallery in the museum. Ms. Lovitt was herding them across the wooden floors and a choir of squeek wet boots echoed loudly. Everyone giggled, trying to make the most of the sound as possible.
“okay, okay, settle down now…there are other people in this museum who don’t appreciate that…” said their teacher. She was wearing an bulky sweater with a multi-colored scarf thrown over one shoulder and holding a flag up so everyone could see her.
To the girls, one room seemed much like the previous one. Pictures of all sizes hung on off-white walls, hard-wood floors and amazingly tall ceilings. It all seemed so cold and tiring to Emily on this dreary day.
The teacher stopped infront of a painting. ” This is Marcel DuChamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2″
A slight giggle errupted at the use of the word “nude” and a hand went up…”You mean there’s more than one of these?” a faint voice in the back asked, more laughter.
This time the Ms. Lovitt let the giggling subside.
“Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 is a 1912 painting by Marcel Duchamp. The work is widely regarded as a Modernist classic and has become one of the most famous of its time…” continued Ms. Lovitt.
Emily stood there and squinted at the picture, trying to make sense of the form, looking hard for the nude woman in the title. She squinted some more. Ugh, where is it she thought?
Quite a few minutes went by as Emily stared, mesmerized by the sharp angular lines thinking she’d seen a leg, yes a nude leg. Maybe it was time to give up, she turned away from the picture.
There on the floor beside her was Caroline, boots off, head on the floor, feet in the air, doing a headstand with one eye shut. “Nope, I still don’t see it.” Emily turned beet red, wanted to run away from Caroline, the monkey. As she turned some more, the whole class was in some strange twisted position, looking at the picture. All trying to find something in it that was forbidden.
Oh this was just too much! And just about the time she was going to scold them all for being so childish… she laughed.
And not just a chuckle or giggle, but a full on belly shaking laugh. Remembering her emergency phone stuck securely in the coat pocket, Emily took a picture as soon as she could get it out, find the camera app and click.
Ms. Lovitt came back into the gallery, waived her flag, signaling to get in a line. Time was up. No more stupid pictures that didn’t make any sense at all.
Emily looked at her photo on the bus trip home. It was magnificent, and funny, and really captured the afternoon at the museum and it was her masterpiece. And for once she was glad to be a child, even if she was the biggest one in the class.
“Next time,” she said to herself, “next time….I’m going to be on my head.”
In Response: The Blog Propellant.