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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Wine and Cheese

Prompt: Song


Dear Wednesday,

Since the smoke and smog from the surrounding forest fires has finally dissipated and the sky is visible and we can smell grass and trees again, it’s hard to concentrate on the indoors, and that includes writing!

There are storms clouds gathering as I write this and I am thrilled just to be able to see them. We need rain, too, lots of it, as there are still hundreds of fires still burning and we’ve had barely a lick of precipitation for two months.

I don’t know anyone who has experienced this past month who will ever take a smog-free environment and fresh clean air for granted again.

Today’s casual prompt actually suggested we write about the third line in the last song we heard, which for me was an advertising jingle encouraging people to buy lottery tickets. So I altered the prompt yet have written nothing about music— still, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which relates to the prompt, “song”?

cartoon-next-song-s-about-pain-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9185253-8419447

cartoon made-the-wine-i-made-the-cheese-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9168438-8419447

cartoon two-scientists-look-at-rats-in-a-lab-cages-zachary-kanin


Happy Wednesday and every day!

~~FP

Thin Pants

Prompt: Thin


Hello Wednesday,

Tonight my sister and I watched a few old “The Launch” episodes. This is a low key but very high quality talent-search kind of program, Canada style. One of the contestants in the seven part series was Amy Bishop, who is not thin.

I am culturally naive; I don’t truly understand the discrimination that so many people experience, including friends, because of skin colour, conventional attractiveness, ethnicity, religion, height, weight or whatever. Amy Bishop feels held back because of her appearance. If she feels it, of course it is true.

As a white, fairly conformist white woman I understand that I know nothing about what others experience in these areas. I need to listen.

On the topic of “thin”, today’s Daily Prompt, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, of which only the first one relates to the theme?

cartoon thin pants

cartoon wine snobcartoon math


~~FP 

Decoy

Prompt: Value

wine_bottle_cork

Two bottles of wine were laying down in the cellar, chatting. One was a bottle of blended reds, the other a more expensive Cabernet Sauvignon. Above them, an old bottle of fine French wine lay dormant, a layer of dust covering its label.

“Betcha I’m the next to go,” said the expensive Cab Sauv.

“I’m cheaper, I’ll be picked sooner,” said the blend.

“Not if the old fart up there is on the menu,” said the Cab Sauv, who was more worldly than the blend.

“How so?” asked the blended wine…

The Decoy Price

wine-decoy-price

When a very expensive wine is put on the menu beside other price options, so that the middle price seems the reasonable choice.

This tactic is sometimes used with the food menu, too; for example, listing an inexpensive chicken dish, an upscale steak dish, and an outrageously priced lobster dish. The steak suddenly seems more reasonable and accessible than it would if there were no lobster on the menu.

The solution? Don’t look at the prices. Make your reasoned choices, and if the price is exorbitant, then you can scale down. Don’t let decoy prices fool you!

 

  • This advice brought to you by something I read on the Internet.

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.

Illumination

Prompt: Glass

Okanagan-wineries-Gray-Monk

“Let’s move here,” Marcus said.

They sat on a wide, granite-clad balcony overlooking dry hills spotted with green, and sinewy rows of vineyards, and mist-covered lakes far in the distance.

“Everyone says that,” Envy said.

“But we could do it,” said Marcus. He took the bottle of Pino Gris out of the ice and topped up their glasses with cold wine. He pushed the plate of food away from him.

“We have a home and commitments,” Envy reminded him, feeling stodgy and old. She wasn’t sure why she was compelled to remind him of what he already knew. It was a habit, a bad one. And the sun was behind him, and illuminated all the stray blonde hairs on his head, and he looked beautiful and saintly, and she wondered why they could not simply indulge themselves.

Envy sank into this memory, as she rode home alone, in the back of a taxi. Marcus would go to prison for what he’d done.

Envy wanted to travel back in time, and stay on that balcony, in the shade, in the heat, with the cold wine, forever.