It was a hot day in July of 2013. I remember that summer being especially humid. I didn’t want to get all sweaty before my date with Annabelle. So I took a taxi up to the Barnes Museum. But sadly, many of those cabs are still hot as hell in the summertime. I went inside, told them I was on the guest list and that I was waiting for my plus one. The girl at the counter tells me it’s cooler downstairs. I head down to cool off and dry out. I was heavier back then, (36 waist!) so maybe that’s why I was sweating more. I get some water and have a seat.
I get a text from Annabelle that she has arrived. I tell her to just let them know who she is and they’ll let her in. She comes downstairs to get me. She is wearing her hair up, and has a black top and matching black slacks that just cover her knees. Is that called Capri pants? She is also wearing heels so she towers over me. I don’t care. I’m Phicklephilly. I cast a great shadow across this city. She goes to use the restroom, and I chill out looking at little models of what the building looked like when they were designing it. The are all in different stages under glass. I’m looking at one of the tiny models very closely when she returns. She comes up behind me and I just feel her presence. I turn around and she is over me looking at what I’m looking at. I tell her it felt like I was being stalked by a raptor from Jurassic Park. She laughs and does this little impression of a raptor. I find this funny and ask her if she liked the film Jurassic Park. (One of my favorite movies)
“I love Jurassic Park.”
“Okay….okay” I reply.
We go upstairs and into the main ballroom. They are having a little first Friday celebration. A live band plays some sweet jazz. For whatever reason we’re both starving. I get us high top with a pair of chairs, and tell her I’ll go fetch us some snacks and wine.
I head over to the bar and all they have is overpriced everything and some cheese and chips. It’s the Barnes for God’s sake. Can’t they afford any decent chow for the guests? I gather up two bags of chips some cheese and a couple of glasses of wine. I’m not even gone for five minutes, and some old codger has already swooped in and started talking to my date. This guy is easily twenty years older than me. I approach, drop the food on the table and hand Annabelle her wine.
“Really dude? I was gone all of five minutes. Get your own girl.” I joke.
We chat with the old guy. He seems charming and harmless. After a bit, Annabelle and I go over to tour the collection. Apparently, that wasn’t part of the passes I was given. I simply drop a name and they let us in. I had never seen the collection before so it was a real treat for me to see what a billion dollar art collection looked like.
The collection includes 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, 59 by Henri Matisse, 46 by Pablo Picasso, 21 by Chaim Soutine, 18 by Henri Rousseau, 16 by Amedeo Modigliani, 11 by Edgar Degas, seven by Vincent van Gogh, and six by Georges Seurat. Other European and American masters in the collection include Giorgio de Chirico, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Édouard Manet, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Maurice Utrillo, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, Jules Pascin and Maurice Prendergast. It also holds a variety of African artworks; ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; and American and European furniture, decorative arts and metalwork. The museum also holds several significant works by cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz.
It was pretty amazing how one guy was able to collect this many fantastic, priceless pieces of art. We walk from room to room, looking at everything. At one point she says, “Out of everything in this room, which is your favorite?” Then I would choose the one I liked the best. I would do the same to her. We did this enough times, until finally she asked me what was my favorite in the last room.
I simply pointed to her.
We then went downstairs to the rum tasting. We were all in a room and they gave us three different rums to try. The guy that was running the tasting really knew a lot about each rum and what made them different. But the weird part was, they were comparing the taste and look of the rum to different paintings in the collection. They had the images on a video screen on the wall. I’ve never seen this done, and I don’t even think it’s a real thing. But free rum is free rum. I remember the person talking about the mood of the paintings and the taste of the rum, and I was into it. there was a moment when my eyes drifted away from the host and onto Annabelle. I was looking at the painting and then my gaze passed over to Annabelle. I looked at her profile and neck. Was I falling for this girl? I took girls to events all of the time. What was it about this one? There’s nothing special about her really. It’s been two years since Michelle. I’m really taken with her. Has it just been too long since I’ve fallen in love that I just want that feeling again?
What if I’m not falling for her at all? What if I’m simply in love with the idea of love, and not this woman?
After the weird art/rum tasting we headed back upstairs. We probably shouldn’t have had all that wine and rum with so little food. I can handle it but it could be a bit painful for Annabelle tomorrow.
We leave the museum. It’s located in an area where it would be difficult to catch a taxi. I decide we should walk up to Spring Garden. We reach the corner and flag one down. We share the perfunctory hug. Dating’s funny. So much of it is tied to timing and ritual. I put her in the cab and ask her to text me that she has gotten home safely.
The cab rolls east into the night and as I walk back down into center city. As the city rises before me, I feel a little spring in my step.
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