My first thought, as I pull up to the corner where I’ve agreed to meet the Man from Marshalls, is “Oh God, he’s wearing his baseball cap.” My second thought is, “Aren’t baseball caps a bit gauche for an art gallery?” My third and final thought, however, is “Who the hell cares? He’s awfully gorgeous beneath that baseball cap and if I don’t like his baseball cap that’s my problem.”
The words “Love it or leave it” flash through my mind. Being a good dissenting liberal, I hate this phrase ordinarily. I especially hate it in the context of miniature red, white and blue signs held to 4th of July cupcakes with wooden toothpicks (correct me if I’m wrong but Independence Day wouldn’t even exist if our founding fathers hadn’t dared to question their government. Ditto the abolition of slavery, female suffrage and the Civil Rights movement. I am, therefore, not terribly receptive to suggestions that I renounce my citizenship simply because I’m critical of American foreign policy.)
But in the case of the Man from Marshalls, the phrase “Love it or leave it” makes sense. And when he slips into the passenger seats and leans over to give me a kiss on the cheek, thereby demonstrating complete mastery of the First Rule of the Gentleman’s Guide to Wooing Women, I decide that I that I don’t give a flying you-know-what about his baseball cap.
We make our way over to the gallery and thanks to my usual navigational prowess we end up taking what I would call “the scenic route,” except since we’re in North Philly it’s not particularly scenic.
“I don’t mean to worry you,” the Man from Marshalls says, “but you know people get shot around here, right?”
I shrug. It’s only 5:00pm. People don’t get shot at 5:00pm because 5:00pm is the start of Happy Hour! Plus we’re only a few blocks from the Crane Arts Building; I went to a performance there a few years ago and I obviously lived to tell.
Nonetheless, I’m relieved when the Man from Marshalls reaches into his pocket and pulls out an iPhone. “What’s the address?” he asks. Three seconds later, he’s telling me, “Turn left at the next street. Then left again.”
“Into the parking lot?” I ask. I may not be the best with directions but I do know that we’re not going to get to Germantown Avenue by driving through a parking lot.
“Yes,” he assures me. “Keep going.” Sure enough, he’s right. A minute later, we’ve arrived at the gallery and I’ve managed to find a spot that requires neither parallel parking nor any other tricky automobile maneuvers (such as, you know, turning, or pulling in between two cars). Things are looking up.
We head into the gallery and stumble around for a bit until the Man from Marshalls asks, “Do you go to these kinds of things a lot?”
“Not really,” I confess. Eventually, I spot my co-worker, and introduce the Man from Marshalls as “My friend so-and-so.” I’m greatly looking forward to all of the inner-office gossip that will ensue at work (because when is a male friend who’s willing to come to an art gallery ever just a friend?) but then I remember that I don’t work in an office. So there will be no gossip. Unless of course you count three years old kids saying, “Miss Kat, did you know that today is my birthday and I’m going to have pizza for dinner and then I’m going to get ice cream and are we going to do the Firebird dance today?”
Oh well. The Man from Marshalls has a predilection for hummus and makes a beeline for the cheese platter. This is good because I have a predilection for both hummus and cheese so I don’t feel too bad for making a beeline of my own. We wander around for a while, and although I’m attempting to cultivate an air of sophistication, I’m afraid to say anything about the art (lest I praise the wrong piece and reveal myself to be a complete Philistine).
We weave from the cheese platter to the dessert the tray, thus completing our second turn through the gallery. I’m not really sure how long you’re supposed to stand around, and my “friend” doesn’t seem to know either so eventually I whisper, “Shall we?”
“Whatever you’d like,” he says.
What I would like, very much, is to kiss him, right then and there, but even in my limited knowledge of gallery openings, I’m pretty sure that this would be a major faux pas. Instead, we say our goodbyes and head out to the car where we…
…decide to go bowling. But the night is young, and I look awfully sexy in bowling shoes.
(So sexy, in fact, that I’m pretty sure the Man from Marshalls won’t even bat an eye when I get around to mentioning blog- which I am totally going to do. As soon as we get to the bowling alley.)