Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Art Critic Attends the Debut

This is the second part to the piece about the Art Critic who turned out to be an alcoholic pervert. Here he attends the art debut for the wine and cheese.


I nervously straighten my bowtie and coattails. I can't help but feel a sense of accomplishment that we were able to buy Stein's piece "Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones, but Chains and Whips Excite Me," and the abstract from the other fellow. I smile and greet our patrons as they enter the gallery and observe the pieces that we have displayed. Keinter chose most of the other ones where we didn't feel a need to consult that genius of a man, Professor Van Der Haagen. I must say that I am rather disappointed with Keinter's choice. They're all pieces that are from the Dutch Renaissance style of art. I have heard the professor say it many times before, and I still agree with him: "Those damn Dutch painters should've just invented the camera! It would have made their paintings that much better! Talent? No! They didn't have any talent! Causing a complete revision in the way subjects were painted? Who the hell cares? Not me!" After all, the paintings are too realistic looking to be taken seriously. Who on earth wants to look at realistic portraits of people?
I notice that the cheese is out of place. I straighten the gouda, roquefort, gorgonzola, and brie on the glass plates that we have at the reception. I then decide that it's best for us to bring out the plates of garlic and meat in order to compliment the appetizing aroma of all the cheeses. All of the patrons look very nice in black tie. The sight of the black clad women with wine in hand and the men with their tuxedos and whisky warms my heart and reminds me of a murder of crows feasting on carrion.
And then! He is here! The Art Critic! Oh, look at him! And me, a poor pencil pusher who cannot possibly comprehend the demons this man must grapple with to attain the meanings behind the paintings!
"Evening, Dimwit!" He barks at me. I cannot help but swoon at his mighty voice. Several women help me up to my feet and I accept their offer of a whisky to help my poor reeling senses. "Well, Professor Van Der Haagen," a woman asks, "this is quite the interesting showing that's been put together. Dutch Renaissance paintings, a 50's bondage piece, and a dirty dropcloth covering up some type of work. What does this all mean?" "It means," Prof. Van Der Haagen replied, "I need a drink, and I need it now! Dingleberry!" "Dinglebee, sir," I gently remind him. One must not upset a genius when he is working. I pour the gin for him and hand it to him. "That's better!"
Look at him. Amazing is the only word that can come to my mind. I can't help but notice that the Prof. has failed to shave in several days and is missing his cummerbund. And his bowtie. And his tuxedo. As a matter of fact, I am puzzled at what he is wearing, until I realize that it is a long sleeved t-shirt that is made out to look like a tuxedo. Haha! I laugh! The wit of the professor was simply lost on me and my poor unintelligent mind. I sigh; I always underestimate his genius.
The professor goes and grabs some cheese from the table and proceeds to eat it. He's such a trailblazer and a champion for all of us! Especially since there hasn't been an announcement that the reception was ready.
"Watch this, you old broad!" he yells to a handsome woman in her 60's. He proceeds to tilt his head back, close his eyes, and throw the cheese up in the air and into his expecting mouth! "TA DAAAA!" He exclaims! "Now watch this one with two!" I can't help but notice several of the patrons moving uncomfortably away from the professor. I must admit, sometimes I too move uncomfortably away from him, because of how intimidating his intelligence can be. "Who the hell are you, you disgusting old man?" a rather attractive woman asks him. "I'm the one you come home to every night! I'm surprised you don't recognize me honey!" He retorts. She slaps him and it obviously reminds the professor of some long lost thought because he lies on the ground for some time until I help him to his feet. As I touch him, I feel an electrical tingle upon my fingers, a warmth in my chest, and stinging odor in my nostrils. "Dammit, you made me spill my gin all over your chest!" "I am so sorry, sir!" I sputter, "I could get you another one if you wish? Or a whisky? It's quite good, if you care for it." "No, that's alright. I think I'll have some more cheese. Nothing but the best here, eh?" The professor then proceeds to pick up the entire glass platter and sample all of the cheeses. "Mmmarammmmrammmm MMMM! GOOD!" I cannot help but laugh at his approval. And of course at how majestic he looks in his faux tuxedo holding an enormous plate of cheese with his face down in it. All of the board members see it and approve of it too, applauding the professor. He looks changed, as of now. Perhaps he is having a brainstorm as to what the chiaroscuro in one of the paintings of the gallery means. How wonderful, I realize. He is able to change the color of his face at will! See! He is changing from his usual pink to red to purple and for the wonderful finish, blue! I start applauding loudly with a large smile on my face. I knew that we had a genius on our hands, but the fact that we have a color changing genius makes it more majestic to me. He decides to add to the visual spectacle by adding sound to it, and proceeds to drop the glass plate containing all the cheese onto the floor. The wonderful noise it makes! The tinkling of the glass! The slicing hiss of the shards! The gurgling sounds protruding from his mouth! He then decides to mime, in the wonderful Parisian style as can be found on the Rue de Rivoli, by grasping his throat firmly with both hands, one on top of the other and gurgling. The Board and I are esctatic and clapping! "How wonderful" I exclaim, "the professor has decided to add to the gallery by miming in the style of the French for all of us to enjoy!" "I'M NOT MIMING! I'M CHOKING GODDAMMIT! HELP MEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeuuuurrrrrggghhh." And then the professor decides that it is fit for him to end his physical performance in the utmost silence and with the purest color adorning his cheeks: white. We all clap and call for an encore, and then I realize that only myself and the board are still at the gallery, except for Keinter who has run off 5 minutes ago to call for an ambulance because he thought Prof. Van Der Haagen was choking. What utter nonsense. The board and I can distinctly tell the difference between a plebian choking and a physical performance artist, such as the professor, doing his best piece on the sheer joy that can be found by eating a piece of cheese.
Keinter returns and announces, "The ambulance is here. I suggest we tell the police how it happened." I swoon with the realization that the professor has slaved away so much at his art that he has perished so that we may have enjoyed his physical performance.

Three sorrow filled days pass without any meaning in my life. The one true beacon of my life has passed on, merely by his dedication to the arts. I gather with the other board members for the funeral and we discuss his last wonderful performance of the 'cheese loving mime.' We all agree that it was the finest thing we had ever seen in our entire lives, and that if we lived to be 90, we'd never see another thing quite like it. "Perhaps that's best. Van Der Haagen was certainly an idiot. The biggest one I've ever seen. I can't speak for the rest of you, but if I live to be 90, I'll never see an old, perverted alcoholic nincompoop like Van Der Haagen," Keinter comments. I merely sigh and shake my head. Keinter never understands art, nor will he ever be able to. As I leave in my neo-deconstructionist altered car, I can't help but look up into the sky and envision all of the glory of the professor entering the gates of Heaven and speaking to St. Peter: "Well, I'm here, dammit, it certainly took me long enough. Where the hell's the alcohol? That was a long trip and I've still got some cheese in my throat. What do you mean my name's not on the list? I specifically made a reservation with someone here! Let me talk to your manager, you obviously don't know who I am! I'm Professor Van Der Haagen!"

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