Down East 2013 ©
Charlie come home from work last Friday, and I could tell he was a little thrown off. Usually, I got dinner all set out for him.
“What’s up?” he says, staring at me with my coat on and ready to go.
“Don’t you remember? Caitlin’s art opening?”
“Oh, gees…” Clearly, he hadn’t.
“Come on, Charlie. It’ll be good for us.”
See, my niece Caitlin and her boyfriend Adam are part of this group art show at To Bean or Not to Bean, Mahoosuc Mills’s very own coffee shop and performance space. Just opened up in one of the old mill buildings last fall. I don’t think they’re going to put the Busy Bee out of business any time soon, but the younger folks in town seem to love it.
Caitlin’s parents, my sister Irene, and her husband, Jimbo, are on a cruise and couldn’t be there, so Charlie and me went all by our lonesome. We wanted to support Caitlin. And, as I says to Charlie, “It’s good to expose ourselves to different things. You know, expand our horizons.”
First off, let me just say that Caitlin and Adam looked so cute with their matching nose rings, both of them dress all artsy, standing by their artwork, talking with friends. When they see us, they wave for us to come over.
“Where’s the cheese and crackers?” Charlie whispers to me. See, on the drive over, I tried to sweeten the deal for him, playin’ up the appetizers.
“Uh, I think there might be some over in that corner, where all those people are. It’s so murky in here, it’s hard to tell. But let’s say hi to Caitlin and Adam first, OK?”
Caitlin had told me Adam was working on this art project that had to do with trash. I thought maybe he was making art out of stuff he found down to the Swap Shop. But turns out, Adam spent 2010 photographing himself with his own trash. Really! Every evening, he took a photo of himself with all the trash he generated that day. You know, Styrofoam coffee cup, a Kleenex, that sort of thing. Then he hung them all together on this wall, kind of like a quilt. He calls it an installation. I know it sounds silly, but put together like that, it kind of makes you think.
It made Charlie think about checking out the buffet. “Charlie!” I says. “You’d think you hadn’t eaten in a week! You have to at least look at Caitlin’s artwork! She’s dying to show us.”
So, Caitlin gives us the tour. She has three pieces in the show.
“My theme,” she says, “ is the commercialization of our holidays. This one is called ‘Easter #1.’
“Look at that,” Charlie says. “Spitting image of a yield sign.”
“Yup, only it’s made entirely of yellow Marshmallow Peeps.”
“Oh my God, it is! Now, won’t the Peeps go bad over time?” I ask.
“See, that’s the great thing about Peeps. They have a shelf like of like a gazillion years. I used Peeps in this one, too, to make the yellow brick road.”
I squinted at it, “‘Easter #2.’ And is that the Emerald City?”
“Right, made up of $100 bills. Well, color Xeroxes, really.”
“And you painted the Easter bunny’s face on the bills! Charlie,” I says, “did you see this, with the Easter bunny’s face?”
But Charlie was gone. I figured he’d bee-lined it for the cheese and crackers.
“Hang tight, Caitlin. I’m going to go find Charlie.”
I walk over in the direction of the table with all those people around it, and get halfway there when Charlie heads me off at the pass, looking a tad concerned.
“What’s the matter, Charlie? Food no good?”
“That’s not a buffet, Ida. Whatever you do, don’t go over there.”
But it was too late. My curiosity got the better of me. I wedged my way into the crowd until I was standing right over the table, which was covered, I kid you not, with road-kill. Animal parts and blood everywhere.
“Goodness!” I says. “Is this real?”
“Resin,” the young fella next to me says. “Cool, huh?”
“It’s certainly realistic.”
Charlie and me turn away from the table and work our way back through the crowd. “What you think of that?” I ask.
“I haven’t seen such a mess since that Hummer hit a moose out on the old Dover Road.”
Just then, the lights start to dim even more than they already are. Caitlin comes running over to us. “Great! You’re still here. Grab a seat. Our friend Aja’s going to do this incredible performance piece!”
So Charlie and me sit on these rickety chairs for about twenty minutes while this girl dressed in nothing but a bed sheet lights a candle and runs around in circles, throws herself on the floor and runs around some more. Every once in a while she pounds the floor with her fists, screaming.
“What are we looking at, Caitlin?” I whisper.
“It’s called ‘Global Warming.’ She’s dancing the death of Mother Earth.”
None too soon, Aja goes into the fetal position and blows out the candle.
After a moment of silence, Caitlin says, “Wasn’t that just amazing?”
“Caitlin,” I reply, “I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it.” Then Charlie and me say goodnight to the kids, and hightail it out of there.
Once we’re standing on the sidewalk, I says to Charlie, “Well, wasn’t that something? Not all of it was to my taste, but it’s nice to see young people passionate about things.”
“Huh! I’ve had more fun at a wake. Come on, let’s go down to the Brew Ha Ha. I need a double-bacon cheeseburger and fries something fierce.”
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
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