Paint-by-Number

doberman hydrangea-Edit

“That looks like a paint-by-number my grandmother did,” said a man in a hat. He wore a grey raincoat and could be cast as a subway flasher, Envy thought, as he seemed the tiniest bit shifty.

“I can see how you might get that impression,” she said. She looked around for the server with the tray of white wine. Exhibit openings always attracted fresh new art aficionados, or at least those who could tolerate modern art and who liked free wine, which was ok with Envy as long as she got her fair share.

“This one is $670 though,” said the man, not taking his eyes off the small painting, which was a representation of two doberman pinschers in front of a blue hydrangea shrub.

“Framed,” said Envy.

“Does the frame cost $665?” asked the man.

Envy wondered where the featured artist, Francesco Brown, had wandered off to. He was a thoughtful and precise man, and could likely engage the man in the hat in a startling and enlightening conversation.

The pianist had started playing ragtime, which Envy detested at that particular moment as it clashed with her mood and, she felt, with the paintings on display. She signalled to Meghan, her assistant, who didn’t notice, as she was swiping at a blob of cream cheese which had dropped from a canapé onto her blouse.

“Francesco Brown,” said Envy to the man, who had turned his head to stare at her when she hadn’t responded, “paints in a somewhat primitive, two-dimensional style as a way of connecting with past sensibilities and in response to the current trend of what he calls multi-media ‘meddling’.”

“He does, does he?” said the man. He took his hands out of his pockets and Envy, in momentary panic, feared he would suddenly expose himself.

“He can explain his aesthetic better than I can. Why don’t I find him for you?” She looked around again for the tray of wine.

“Not necessary,” the man said quickly. “I’ll take it.”

“Take it?”

“I’ll buy it. This one. The dogs. It reminds me of my grandmother. She was the only one who never asked me why I collected sticks. Plus, it has a nice frame.”

Envy insisted the man in the hat meet the artist, who was charming and drew out from the man that his name was Edward, he lived in the neighbourhood, he had a dog named Cleo, he didn’t drink, and he preferred to pay by cash rather than a credit card, which made it awkward for Envy, who didn’t want to put the “sold” sticker on the picture until the money was safely in hand.

Edward didn’t seem to notice, or care, that there was no “sold” sticker on the painting of the Dobermans with Hydrangea. He said he would drop by the next morning with the cash and seemed confident the picture would be wrapped and ready to go.

But he did insist on a cup of coffee at the Starbucks next door after the event ended at nine pm. Envy agreed, and a coffee with a client was a good excuse to duck out and leave the closing up to Meghan, who hadn’t been much help at the exhibit otherwise.

They chatted briefly about the obvious topics: the exhibit (well-received), the artist (not as flaky as expected), the attendance (solid, including at least one arts writer from a small local paper), and the sales (satisfactory).

Then Edward said, sipping on his black coffee, “You are dying for a glass of wine.”

“Not drinking makes you an expert?” said Envy, a touch prickly.

“In a way, I guess so,” said Edward. “I always liked a drink after any kind of exhausting activity.”

“What kind of exhausting activity?”

“You know, like the end of a project, a speech, a big sale, lovemaking, anything emotional.”

“To be honest, I could murder one,” Envy admitted.

“I won’t keep you,” said Edward. “You just seemed interesting. Not like the women I usually meet.”

Envy stifled a yawn. That old line. She possibly got it more than most women, since she was, by any objective standard, not particularly attractive. She instinctively looked at her watch, then blushed at the inadvertent impoliteness.

“Sorry,” said Edward.

“No, I’m sorry,” said Envy. “I’m not bored, honest.” Not yet.

“Is that an engagement ring?” Edward asked, indicating the glittering tri-ruby ring on her left ring finger.

“It is,” said Envy with a sigh. “Though I don’t know if I am really engaged.”

“What’s the confusion?”

“I have the ring, but not sure if I want the marriage,” she said. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this.”

“Because I’m safe, anonymous? I have a kind, trusting face?” suggested Edward.

For a flasher, thought Envy. But she found herself continuing, “We love each other, we do, we should get married.”

“But?”

“He thinks I’m not over my first marriage.”

“Oh. Are you?”

“Definitely, but not over the man,” Envy said. Yes, that was it. The worst combination of feelings for an engaged person ever: cynical about the institution of marriage and still clinging to the connection with the ex. Shit.

“Selfishly, I can’t help but think that puts me in third place at the very least.”

“Amazing, isn’t it, how someone who looks like me could have an interesting love life?” Envy said, much more harshly than she intended.

Edward gently set his coffee cup down and stood to his feet. “It’s been fun, Envy, but Cleo can’t walk herself, so I should run.”

Envy rigorously decided against being embarrassed or regretful, and held out her hand. “Thanks for the coffee, and see you tomorrow.”

“Right,” said Edward.

Whether he would show up at the gallery to pay for Dobermans with Hydrangea or hop the subway in his raincoat was anyone’s guess.

 

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Agony Ant: Neanderthal Poetry [Repost]

Prompt: Save

moose

Dear Agony Ant,

My boyfriend is a Neanderthal.

He keeps himself relatively clean, but has the worst teeth, as in some are missing, some are loose, and some are sharp. This means that our love-making is perilous and often painful and bloody, though is quite spectacular in other regards.

Yes, he should see a dentist, but is deathly afraid of them. He is also afraid of small spaces, lightning, automobiles, cats, plastic, and electricity.

He is also not much of a conversationalist, choosing to “do” rather than “say”. I can’t claim he doesn’t communicate well, but I am a bit of romantic, and love poetry. I really wish he would one day say in words how he feels about me. He has never told me he loves me, but I suspect he does.

We are trying to decide whether to live together. I am a bit of a neat freak, and he is quite the opposite. He rabidly sticks to his paleo diet, while I am vegetarian.

I am no spring chicken, and he might be my one shot at true happiness, commitment, and baby Neanderthals.

How can I tell if we should move in together?

Yours truly,
Sentimental Lover


 

Dear Sentimental Lover,

That’s quite a catch you have there. I am kidding. The heart has reasons, and all that.

If you are willing to overlook the little quirks, like his lack of speech and fear of plastic, because you love each other, then all the power to you. I’m sure he overlooks your flaws, like your use of electric lights and toothpaste.

But, he owes you some proof of his true affection and romantic feelings. Demand that he write you a love poem. If he can overcome his shyness about communicating his feelings, then I believe you can be a brilliant match, despite your differences in diet.

Peace and love,
agony ant


 

Dear Agony Ant,

He did it! He wrote me a love poem. It made me cry. Do you think it proves his sincerity?

I am hunter
You are womb
You are beautiful like skinned moose
Pink
Juicy
Fill belly.

Yours truly,
Sentimental Lover


 

Dear Sentimental Lover,

It made me cry too. Anyway, the sincerity is definitely there.

Good luck as you start your romantic adventure cohabiting, and possibly, marriage, children, and growing old together.

May I suggest you relocate to a city with legalized marijuana?

Peace and love,
agony ant


  • Original Prompt: False, July 8, 2016

The Right Person

Prompt: Broken


Hello Wednesday,

When I was a child of nine, I broke the big mirror on the bedroom dresser I shared with my sister– a mirror which partly covered a window– when I tried to open that sticky window. It shattered into a thousand pieces and took me and my mother a long time to clean it up.

My mother knew it was an accident and wasn’t angry, though every extra expense was problematic for my family in those days.

I wasn’t worried about the expense or my mother’s reaction. I was nine: I knew for sure that breaking a mirror meant seven years of bad luck. I did the math: my life would be a living hell until I was sixteen.

What happened was that I did think about it for seven more years. I fretted a little. I thought I recognized catastrophes related to the broken mirror. But mostly, I realized that superstitions are stupid AF.

I understand that this is not a brilliantly intelligent revelation, but it was to me as a child. I didn’t have to believe things. I could be critical. I could make up my own mind. After years of avoiding cracks on sidewalks, being repulsed by the thought of walking under a ladder, and touching wood with great solemnity, I was finally free!

Well, I throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it, don’t know which shoulder it should be but I do it anyway. And if it rains, I blame my partner for washing the car.

In the spirit of Wednesday’s prompt, broken, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, only the first of which is related to the theme?

cartoon 10 commandments

cartoon broken refrigerator

cartoon eye contact


See you tomorrow for Throwback Thursday. Have a wonderful week!

~~FP

Prickly

Prompt: Disagree

cactus

“While I disagree with you, I defend your right to express your opinion,” said Graham, and took a small sip from his glass of Merlot. “But you are wrong.”

“Thank you,” said Envy, and behind her sunglasses she rolled her eyes so hard it almost gave her a headache. She took a large sip from her glass of iced Sauvignon Blanc. The restaurant patio looked out upon acres of terraced vineyards, and was surrounded by grape vine trellises, and featured an extensive local wine list, and could not be more grape-y if it tried.

She didn’t want to argue with Graham any more. He considered discussions a cerebral exercise. He had no real opinions, except those that, for fun, opposed hers. This winery tour weekend had turned into an eye-roll extravaganza for Envy, who realized her radar for tolerable human beings was definitely rusted out.

He was adorable though, on first meeting. Very blond and thin, with mediterranean blue eyes behind large dark framed glasses, and a piquant comment to make on each of the pictures in the gallery on opening night. Envy was impressed, especially that the exhibit she had curated was so thoughtfully critiqued by such a charming person. Naively, as it turned out.

“While it is aesthetically resilient,” Graham said about Cena Navidad, “it is less a revival of a past tradition than, say, an act of meditation.”

“Do you really think so?” she asked him, tilting her head as she gazed at the print, as if that would facilitate some kind of revelation.

“Don’t you?” asked Graham, and took a small sip of his glass of Merlot.

Later on, he made love to her with a precision that was admirable, though may have been more a reflection of her need than his skill. And when he invited her on a weekend of wine touring and other decadence, she looked forward to a fascinating, and very satisfying, two days.

A winery tour was a decidedly unfortunate idea, not for Graham, who revelled in the private tastings and the opportunity to express detailed opinions, but for Envy, who had to listen to them.

Lightly smacking his lips (which also grew into an intolerable mannerism) after tasting, Graham declared the 2014 unoaked Chardonnay from one winery to be “parochially lean and sharply melancholy”. Envy was too melancholy to make love that night.

He found that a pleasant (to Envy) 2010 Merlot possessed “creamy tang overtones with a flippant cactus perfume too narcissistic for everyday consumption”. Envy was too prickly to sleep with Graham that night.

And on this, their last lunch in the valley before the drive home, he disagreed that he was an “over-dry, overrated white, with distinctly sour pickle notes and a uniformly weak finish.”

The drive back was scenic, past the crystal lakes, the dry hills turning into mountains, but inside the car it was quiet. Almost melancholy.

Obsession

Prompt: Obsessed

creepy kitten

Marigold loved romantic movies, loved sitcoms about relationships, loved books about passionate love affairs. She knew the drill:

A real man doesn’t give up. He knows who he loves, and if she doesn’t realize it quite yet, then he is persistent. His passion is romantic, masculine; her hesitation is either false or fickle, and to be overcome. Love will conquer all.

Sending flowers, cards, messages and emails, appearing unannounced at his true love’s workplace, or flying across country and showing up uninvited on his true love’s doorstep, even though she has rejected him, is real love. She will see that, eventually. She will be flattered, understand the power of his love, and love him back.

Real men pursue until their prey acquiesce.

After meeting Jeanie’s “friend”, her views shifted. Jeanie did impress upon her that Guy’s attentions were unwanted, intrusive, and even threatening behaviours. As a friend, Marigold supported these perceptions, but in her heart she wondered what it would be like to have someone love you to such and extent that they simply would not take no for an answer.

Now she knew. He left gifts outside her door. They were creepy, intimate gifts: soaps, or body oils, or odd little figures of puppies and kittens, or postcards of exotic places he had never visited, or letters. The letters described what they would do together, when she finally loved him back.

She stopped answering the telephone, and he left messages, some so long that the tape ran out. He left messages on her Facebook page.

She could see him standing on the sidewalk across from her apartment.

Marigold contacted the police. She said he was harassing and stalking her. They said their hands were tied, as he had not made any explicit physical threats. He had told her more than once that he would kill himself if she wouldn’t see him. Jeanie told her to ignore him.

She could barely sleep at night, afraid the phone might ring. So she developed a plan, whereby she would return the attentions. She started a notebook, and jotted down ideas and strategies as she thought of them. Repaying Guy for the hell he had been putting her through, for the time and attention she wasted worrying about him, for the futile visits to the police— became an obsession. She wanted to ask Jeanie for help and suggestions, but feared Jeanie would not approve.

But she would go ahead with her plan anyway. She would leave scary things on his doorstep— truly scary things. She would call him at all hours and hang up— consistently. She would send anonymous messages to his employers, and she would hack his Facebook account. Her hands were not tied. She would act.

 


  • The subject isn’t really funny, but the satire is: The Onion.

True Deserts

Prompt: Desert

dusty road with cyclysts

“This is a desert,” Marcus said. “Probably the only one up here?”

They were relaxing by a pool of deep brilliant blue water, outside their guest room at the Grey Owl Winery. There was no one else by the pool. The rest of the guests were sipping cold wine in the cool dim interior of the restaurant, or siesta-ing under ceiling fans in darkened apartments. But Marcus loved the heat, and Envy loved what Marcus loved.

Still, it was brutally hot and dry, and they watched a stream of tourists in cars approaching the winery, leaving a trail of the finest dust in billowing clouds behind them.

They were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. It was one of Envy’s most cherished memories, despite all that was to come.

“It is the northern end of the Sonoran desert,” Envy said. She took a sip of her soda and lime, from a long straw poked into a frosted glass. “But really, not a true desert. It feels like it today though,” she conceded.

Marcus threw his head back to get the last drop of beer from the bottle. Then he stood up from his lounger, and straddled Envy on hers.

“Marcus!”

“Let’s go inside,” Marcus said. “I want to hear more about true deserts.” He leaned over her and kissed her neck, under her ear.

She felt heat and wetness on her skin where he touched her.

The room was cool, air-conditioned, and dimly lit with the curtains drawn. They listened to Ray Charles, and were oblivious to the sun and heat, and the scent of the vineyard, and the sight of the tourists in rental cars crawling along the dusty road that led to the Grey Owl Winery, leaving clouds in their wake.

Agony Ant: Neanderthal Poetry

Prompt: False

moose

Dear Agony Ant,

My boyfriend is a Neanderthal.

He keeps himself relatively clean, but has the worst teeth, as in some are missing, some are loose, and some are sharp. This means that our love-making is perilous and often painful and bloody, though is quite spectacular in other regards.

Yes, he should see a dentist, but is deathly afraid of them. He is also afraid of small spaces, lightning, automobiles, cats, plastic, and electricity.

He is also not much of a conversationalist, choosing to “do” rather than “say”. I can’t claim he doesn’t communicate well, but I am a bit of romantic, and love poetry. I really wish he would one day say in words how he feels about me. He has never told me he loves me, but I suspect he does.

We are trying to decide whether to live together. I am a bit of a neat freak, and he is quite the opposite. He rabidly sticks to his paleo diet, while I am vegetarian.

I am no spring chicken, and he might be my one shot at true happiness, commitment, and baby Neanderthals.

How can I tell if we should move in together?

Yours truly,
Sentimental Lover


 

Dear Sentimental Lover,

That’s quite a catch you have there. I am kidding. The heart has reasons, and all that.

If you are willing to overlook the little quirks, like his lack of speech and fear of plastic, because you love each other, then all the power to you. I’m sure he overlooks your flaws, like your use of electric lights and toothpaste.

But, he owes you some proof of his true affection and romantic feelings. Demand that he write you a love poem. If he can overcome his shyness about communicating his feelings, then I believe you can be a brilliant match, despite your differences in diet.

Peace and love,
agony ant


 

Dear Agony Ant,

He did it! He wrote me a love poem. It made me cry. Do you think it proves his sincerity?

I am hunter
You are womb
You are beautiful like skinned moose
Pink
Juicy
Fill belly.

Yours truly,
Sentimental Lover


 

Dear Sentimental Lover,

It made me cry too. Anyway, the sincerity is definitely there.

Good luck as you start your romantic adventure cohabiting, and possibly, marriage, children, and growing old together.

May I suggest you relocate to a city with legalized marijuana?

Peace and love,
agony ant