Notes of a Fine, Upstanding Citizen

The truth now: have you ever been kicked out of a place?

I have twice suffered the ignominy of being escorted from a place, if one does not count evacuating Georgia.  (Which I do not, as I find an invading Russian army to be suitable reason for anyone to be escorted from a place.)

Both times, it was a museum exhibit which caused my downfall. 

I blame Modernity.

See, although I wasn’t alive to test this hypothesis during the 1600s or even the early 1900s, I suspect that I wouldn’t have been kicked out back then.  Mostly as I likely wouldn’t have been even allowed in to start with.  Thus securing my fine, upstanding reputation.  This sad truth would nettle any but the most wise of souls, but fortunately I am as sage as can be.

The first museum to unRuth was in Haifa, Israel. 

There I was, earnestly having my mind blown by my insanely intelligent cousin, who was explaining some dimensional theory in physics.  I mean, who can focus during times like these?

I certainly cannot.  And the task of explaining the incredible to the uncomprehending meant my cousin was of no mind to focus on minor details, either.

And so it was that we accidentally meandered into the exhibit itself.  A model Neanderthal community, replete with model Neanderthal men, women, hearths, instruments and huts.

Visitors got a unique flavor of history that day, a glimpse of prehistoric man fashioning crude instruments and modern man fashioning crude explanations for nuclear physics.  We, on display, lingering outside a Neanderthal hut, felt the exhibit was more hands-on than typical, but otherwise noticed nothing unusual whatsoever.

Security did notice.  We were escorted to the café.

I began a strict regime of noticing my surroundings when I entered museums. 

This succeeded for a decade, until New York.  This time, it was not inattention that would garner an escort out, but rather my intense concentration on the art.  I feel this lends the entire thing a certain air of respectability, don’t you?

We were in my favorite museum ever, the Metropolitan, softly abutting Central Park.  A friend and I were exploring the American Wing.  The Met’s so lovely and full of scrumptious art and numerous wings that I had never actually even made it into that particular wing before, and I was quite ecstatic to be seeing the gorgeous Tiffany lamps.

So on this particular day, R and I got into earnest discussion about the lamps.  The question: if we could have one, which one would we want. 

Only the thing is that both R and I are avid readers and also fans of Tiffany glass.  So we took this question most seriously.

It would be the earnestness of our admiration that would get us in trouble.

We began holding books under each desirable lamp, reading a page or two here or there to get a sense of how good the lamps were at providing light, real light, to read by. 

Apparently, Tiffany lamps in the Met are NOT there to provide reading light for visitors, and next thing we knew an alarm was peeling and we too were peeling away in flight and terror.  We slammed into someone at the Frank Lloyd Wright room, and then realized the only way out that we knew was back through the Perilous Minotaur Room of Tiffanies.

We unsuspiciously crept through the room, our bags and books hiding our faces, until we made it out to the Egyptian Wing. 

I like to think we were mostly unnoticed, only a guard coincidentally was walking right by us, departing only once we were deposited safely away from light sources of artistic value.

I do love the Met still, of course—love it dearly, in fact—but I still get a certain illicit frisson when I wander into the American Wing .  I grow red and keep the book in my bag hidden, and keep a healthy non-reading distance from the Tiffany lamps.

In fact, ever since that day, I am more likely to spend countless hours searching for the Temple of Dendur, a lovely haven in the middle of the museum which R showed me that day, but which has eluded me ever since, much in the manner of Platform 9 ¾.

I may have Muggled the Met.

So, what about you?  The truth now.  🙂

The Pond in lower Central Park

And on one absolutely unrelated note:  First Date, the movie with Tina Fey and whatsisname, is hilarious.  🙂  And the scene where whatsisname mentions Central Park…–brilliant.  🙂

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About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
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9 Responses to Notes of a Fine, Upstanding Citizen

  1. ralfast says:

    At a bar, once, was really drunk and I wanted was my credit card back. Made more embarrassing because I once worked as a bouncer and my number one rule is never mess with people while they work.

    😦

  2. Beth says:

    Haven’t so much been escorted out of museums, but I have been watched by security (at the Palazzo Pitti, Bargello and Museum of Fine Arts). Apparently I’m suspicious looking (and in the case of the Palazzo Pitti, working on a conte crayon picture while sprawled on the floor is suspicious behavior).
    I’ve also been reminded that the museum is closing (or closed) at all three of these…and managed to stay after hours at the Palazzo!

    • sputnitsa says:

      Heh-heh 🙂

      You have heard about that Picasso that a woman accidentally fell into and tore at the Met? 🙂 Poor Met. Poor woman. Poor Picasso.

      It’s back now after repairs. She was at a painting class there. Was getting close up to get a good look or something.

      🙂 I wonder if the Italians have that in mind when they see Americans in their museums these days… 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Oh dear Sputsie- this all sounds so like you. I love it! Who else goes to a museum and ends up part of the exhibits?

    It would have been even better if the other visitors discussed the symbolism of Neanderthal models and Modern Man/Woman live art.

    • sputnitsa says:

      Now that you put it that way, dear Gypsy, I begin to think I should have gotten a cut on the entrance fees that day! 🙂 🙂

      We can only imagine at what deep reflections we caused, juxtaposing modern and Neanderthal concerns so vividly. Do remind me to call Haifa.

      🙂 🙂

  4. anyadavis says:

    I’ve been asked to leave restaurants, but only because they were closing. You have led a MUCH more interesting life!

    • sputnitsa says:

      You’re hilarious 🙂 But I’m afraid I cannot take credit for interestingness when truly it is more a matter of utter obliviousness 🙂 🙂 But I thank you for that generosity of spirit 😉

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