Oh, What A Day

by Amelia Kanan

I had just finished telling a woman “I’m so sorry but your “vases” made from plastic bottles smell like cigarette smoke and unfortunately, our consumers are just not into that” when another woman came inand asked about the art classes we offer. I did what I usually do: in my I-know-my-shit-but-am-still-really-nice voice told her that “We offer a large variety of classes from oils and watercolor to woodblocking and jewelry making.” I gave her the list of classes with descriptions, times and prices plus a registration form.

“You know, I used to do art.”

“Oh, wow. What kind?”

“All kinds.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Yeah, I had art everywhere. All over.”

I smiled and nodded. Not knowing how else to respond or really what she meant…at all.

“I was going to take it all to the Art Institute.”

“The school in Chicago? Were you going to apply?”

“No. The Detroit Art Institute.”

(Insert: tires screeching) First of all, it’s the Detroit Institute of Art  and secondly…it’s a museum. I realized I could be dealing with a woman who may or may not be standing on the same stable ground as I was and I got a little scared. Not for my safety but since I’ve had my fair share of run-in’s with people of her kind, I know from experience that it is rarely a quick interaction. I had stuff to do (check my e-mail, arrange a shelf that was bothering me, talk to our display decorator who came in to visit us, organize something…anything…you get my drift) but I also could not be rude. Who was I to judge? She could be a brilliant artist that is tortured by her mind.

“Well, please read over all the classes and see if anything peaks your interest.”

“I will. I will and thank you thank you and thank the good Lord Jesus.”

That sealed the deal for me.

“Of course, it’s my pleasure and thank you for coming in.”

I turned and walked away while I heard her admiring out loud about a painting hanging on the wall. I had to see which one it was. I had to know what it was she was attracted to. Was she a mad artist? There was risk involved with my turn around-she could potentially see me, make eye contact and engage me in conversation again. Crap. What to do? Ehh, I’ll keep walking away.

“Do you know how much this one is?”

It was meant to be…I guess. I turned around and smiled so sweetly it would’ve melted any sane person’s heart. Her’s didn’t melt.

“Which one?” I asked, her pointing had no actual direction involved.

“That portrait up there. Isn’t it just beautiful. I mean, they say a picture is worth a thousand words and ain’t that the truth with that one?”

There was only one portrait in the general direction she was gesturing to and it was painted decades ago…and…could be seen as incredible if…your 15 year old child painted it. I know I know, art is “subjective” but there is “objective art” and this piece was not by “objective art” standards…quality art. Not to mention, the “artist”, has a poor understanding of pricing.


“Wow. That’s worth it.”

I smiled and nodded, again. Not really knowing how else to respond.

She then proceeded to wander around and point to other examples of art that, objectively, was not…you get what I’m saying (I don’t want to say it).

“200 bucks, for this painting?! Wow! I mean, someone painted that and it’s only 200?? Isn’t that amazing?”

I should probably mention that she yelling all of this.

She did this for 40 minutes. I was involved for 20 of those minutes, the other twenty minutes were filled with her verbal assessments and opinions to no one in particular She was fine in those twenty minutes…I, on the other hand…not so fine.

Eventually she left and as she did she said mumbled a prayer for the gallery and graciously thanked me again and again and asked for so many blessings upon me, my life and my friends and family. So…that was really nice of her.