Clarissa and I had visited the gallery to see a special exhibition on Flemish Renaissance artists. She paused at one point, in front of a cherubic young woman, blonde-haired and rosy-skinned, in a meadow of dazzling wildflowers.
You know who that is, dont you? Thats Bernices daughterthe one who married the African, Clarissa said.
Impossible, I said.
She squinted and leaned in closer. No, Im certain of it.
I read the placard below the painting, and sure enough, that was what it said: Bernices youngest daughter, the one who married the Kenyan, frolics in a meadow of dazzling wildflowers.
I really wish she wouldnt sniff the flowers like that. She has terrible allergies. I remember from when she was a little girl, Clarissa said.
It seems like shes done well for herself.
It seems that way. But it would be nice if she dropped some weight. If shes going to expose herself for the whole world to see, she ought to go on a diet. Maybe I should talk to Bernice about getting her on a diet.
Its been a long time since youve talked to Bernice.
Too long. I wonder how she is.
Isnt that Bernice over there? I said, pointing to an adjacent painting, of a woman in a flimsy white slip on the back of a bucking stallion.
No, it cant be. Bernice doesnt like horses. She witnessed a horrible, horrible accident at a petting zoo when she was just a child. A man stuck … a part of himself … in the mouth of one of the horses.
Like in this one? I said, looking at the next painting. Clarissa winced.
I dont like that. What happened to art? What happened to decency?
I couldnt tell you.
I thought people had class back then. This is shock art. And theyre not getting a reaction out of me. I wont give them the satisfaction. No, I wont. Dont expect me to recommend this exhibit to our friends either. Ill tell them not to waste their time. Theres nothing to see here.
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