So on a clear, breezy day in early spring we met on the grass between the opening in a wall that led to Columbus Circle and a large boulder which suspected Yuppies in fancy mountaineering gear were using for mountain climbing practice. And in my head there was a picture, and then a voice-over. Here I am just like one of those great artist guys in the Manet painting, here on the grass in springtime with an artist's model, who is dressed at this moment, unlike the Manet one, but who had no clothes at all the last time I saw her, which was ten minutes ago on the second floor in the League building.
As I walked through the opening, I heard in my head the voice of my first drawing teacher David Dewey - a full years ago when, amazingly I was just beginning saying you have to have the feel of what you draw. Then words that I had been hearing for weeks about how it is always a good idea to go up to whatever you are about to draw and run your fingers over it. Which each time made me smile, in this time of traditional art studies now when my subjects were usually naked women. And it made me sad, for I lived alone now.
We had brought sandwiches. She was older than most of the models at the League, older but smoother, and she looked very young right now. There was a cool breeze and she wore a jogging costume zipped up to the pit of her neck.
I was more older than most the serious students than she was older than most of the models but she had this smile that made her seem charmingly conspiratorial. It was all part of this new life of mine in art. Like two children taking pleasure from joining forces to get away with something.
We had to get back for afternoon classes, but we decided we¹d meet and do
something together on the weekend. The Brooklyn Museum, I suggested. She said she'd never been there, and didn¹t know much about art even though she worked as a modal at the League. As she spoke she smiled widely, then bit into her ham sandwich in the manner of a born carnivore. Then she was saying that until a few years ago she'd never been to the opera - but then someone took her to see Tosca at the Met and she'd responded so strongly that ever since she had been going to the opera every chance she could get.
Hm, I thought. Maybe I would introduce her to the world of art. Um. Pygmalion. Could I handle the responsibility? A serious question. Me as Professor Higgins, and she as a more full-bodied Audrey Hepburn.
And suddenly running through my mind were visions of people and places I had walked away from. Anifiotika and Sunnie, and Thunburi and Sunisar, and London and that girl from Hong Kong.
And these visions were pushed aside as I decided in my mind that she was more like the fine naked lady on the grass in that mysterious Giorgione painting than she was like Manet's less mysterious naked picnicker.
And discomfort covered me like a wet blanket. For it felt like in my head I was writing fiction.