Monday, July 26, 2004

in which the author and his mother discuss various natural and man-made wonders

"Sandy said the card you sent her had a painting on the front."
"Yeah, it's a Van Gogh."
"And you said when you were in Los Angeles were at the museum that had that painting."
"It's called the Getty. It was practically empty when I was there, so I stood there with my nose three inches away from that painting for close to ten minutes."
"Why was it empty?"
"Well, actually, there were lots of people there, but they were mostly outside. They were having these concerts and plus it's just a gorgeous area to walk around in. The buildings are some of the most absolutely breathtaking architecture."
"What was it like?"
"I can't really describe it. I actually just spent most of my time wandering around the grounds looking at it."
"Hey, have you ever been to Australia?"
"What? Mom, do you really not know if I've ever been to Australia?"
"In Australia, there's this Opera House."
"The one in Sydney?"
"Sydney Opera House.* I think that's the most beautiful building I've ever seen.** It looks like it has sails. That's not the same person who did this Getty?"
"Have you seen that giant rock they've got in Australia?"
"Giant rock?
"Australia is known for two things: the Sydney Opera House and that giant rock."
"You mean the Great Barrier Reef?"
"No, Jeremy, I don't mean the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is underwater. This is a giant rock that looks like it dropped out of the sky."
"Let me look on the computer."
"You haven't heard of this rock?"
"No, I - I haven't."
"It's World Famous, Jeremy."
"I don't know what to say, Mom."
[Google: huge rock australia]
"Ayers' Rock?"
"Ayers' Rock.*** It looks like a great big anthill in the middle of a field."
"You're right, it kinda does."
"I can't believe you've never heard of that."
"If you wanted a smart child, you shouldn't have listened to so much bad country music while you were pregnant."
"Didn't Vincent Van Gogh spend some time around here?"
"You-you mean in Iowa? I don't think he was ever in the United States, Mom. You know, he was from--"
"Amsterdam, I know. I thought I saw something on PBS about this art dealer in southern Iowa who had sold paint to him."
"There wouldn't be anybody alive who sold paint to Vincent Van Gogh."
"Well, when did he die? He died more recent than people think."
"That is true. But it was still like in the 1880's."
"I thought it was later than that.**** He wasn't famous until after he died. I guess a lot of painters are that way."
"They've got his ear at the Getty."
"It's in their special collections. Only the really big donors get to see it."
"They do not. Criminy, I don't know what even makes you say things like that."

* She has a way of repeating my guesses at what she's thinking of like it had just been on the tip of her tongue. I know it can't actually be on the tip of her tongue, at least not always, as she does it even when it turns out my guess is not what she was thinking of at all.

** On TV. My mother has never been outside the United States, or even to either coast.

*** Said in the same way as described in the first footnote.

**** She's right! 1890.

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