And I show it to him …
He is speechless. He looks astonished really. Not because it looks so good, but because he does not have any idea how I came to have the drawing. Yes, he literally thinks it is in his basement. Apparently, he stuck it down there with lots of other stuff from his mother’s estate, and it was collecting dust, there in the pale pink-whitewashed frame. So I tell him where I got it. He just stares at me for a whole minute, while I keep jabbering about how I found it, the pink frame, the sanding, the frame shop, etc. He stares some more, then proceeds to call his wife right there in front of me. It gets a little tense, it seems she is redecorating their country club estate home, and did some comprehensive basement cleaning.
Yep, she tossed it to the Church Charity Thrift Store. It really did not look like much the way it was, it had been in the store for several days at least, on sale for two dollars. At this point he is arguing with her, about how she could do that to this precious art piece, and now he says, “I will see you when I get home” I am stunned, I feel like a thief, like I have broken into his country club basement and taken his prized possession right from his clutches. He is very angry at his wife. But he proceeds to tell me the whole story.
This drawing represents this man’s childhood. The artist was a close friend of the family, and when he was a boy, perhaps even THE BOY, he would play in the creek while the artist worked on the drawing. He worked on it for a very long time, maybe five or ten years, before finally calling it complete, and presenting it to Mrs.? This drawing hung in the hallway of his boyhood home for forty years, until his father passed away, and then sadly his mother within two years of him, and the drawing completed the instructions on the reverse, and it went to the now man who loved it. DEARLY LOVED IT.
Oh crap! Here is where the look before you leap part comes in, I had not really thought it through at all. Now what do I do. I just keep jabbering on about how distressed it looked, and how I fixed it up nice and neat, and all the while he is seeing a stranger in his bed. What did I do to his treasure he had waited forty years to own? It gets worse believe me.
So now he proceeds to tell me all about the man, the artist. He loved the man. The man never married, he was Greek, loved a well to do Anglo, but she was forbidden to wed him, she went to a sanitarium at twenty-five, and he never got over it. But he made this drawing for this man, now the artist is long gone, and the frame is not pink anymore. Possibly a sentimental detail of the hand made pink paint job, which I have decimated.
He tells me where he lives, on Augusta Drive, I tell him where I live, but I do not know why I am telling him where I live. He tells me where he lives AGAIN, I tell him where I live AGAIN, and I still do not know why I am giving him my address. I just don’t get it, and will not for a few hours. But anyway I do get to the point of the whole enterprise. I say enterprise, but never really contemplated how these words are going to sound to this man of privilege, and stature in the community. A man who LIVES ON AUGUSTA DRIVE.
“Do you want to buy the painting back,” I ask? As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I have dread. Look before you leap. I might as well have asked if I could auction off his only daughter’s virginity, to a group of K-mart shoppers. You just cannot equate money with some things; it becomes tawdry, unimaginably petty.
I think we are both in shock at this point. I am wondering if he can influence my unemployment eligibility in any way, and the back of my mind I am trying to figure out if I should know where Augusta Drive is, and if he has remembered MY address, and if he will stop by unannounced.
“How much did you pay for the drawing,” oh crap, this comes at me, and I cannot tell him two dollars, I try to gloss it over, by basically trashing the condition of the drawing. Look before you leap. After I trash the family heirloom, (that he loves). Then I tell him that I worked for hours on the frame, which I did. I tell him fifty dollars for the frame shop bill, and ten dollars for the drawing. Here’s where it gets good.
“I need to get at least $100 for the drawing” Dead silence follows. I am jabbering again, wishing I could be miles from this cubicle. Right now I feel like I am at a kidnapping ransom drop, and he wants to write me a check … and he … wants to give me EXACTLY what I paid for the drawing. He has now convinced me that his family has money, he has money, he has this dumb job with the county for who knows why, maybe he didn’t like the cement business. But I am out of work, and HE LIVES ON AUGUSTA DRIVE.
I get no where with the $100 price tag, so I quickly give him my number and get out of that cubicle and fast.
My head is spinning now, this has taken me by surprise, no glory, no thanks, and no money? No way.
I take the drawing home, and admire it. It is glorious. It makes me feel like I live on Augusta Drive. Only, I am out $50, well $52, and I could use the money, I could use $200. It is worth it. My boyfriend says it is georgeous and offers me $100 for it. I refuse. The next day, I get no call. The day after that? What do I do? I look him up in the phone book, and I call him, yes, I do, and then what happens next is a shocker.
I get his wife……well you can imagine how it goes. She has been is scalding water for two days now, and she hates me, yes me, for buying the damn ugly thing, and telling her husband that she tossed it like so much rubbish. I can still hear his voice on the phone to her in the cubicle “But how could you throw it away.”
She dispenses with me by giving the telephone to him, and I feel like a telephone beggar, trying to some spare change for a cup of coffee from Donald Trump, and he won’t buy Starbucks.
“It is yours now, I don’t want it, you keep it.” He is highly agitated, raising his voice. I am trying to console him. I am dancing as fast as I can, but the music keeps changing. I am confused. He hangs up on me.
Huh? Now I start to melt down over this mess. I look at the artwork, and know that the man loves it, and I have it, but got it by accident, but he won’t cut loose $100 for something he waited 40 years to own, then mistreated, and neglected, and lost. I feel bad, very bad. What do I do next? Why, call them back the next day of course, get the wife again, offer to GIVE them the drawing for absolutely nothing, I will bring it over to Augusta Drive, I will make it right. He hangs up on me again.
Alas, the conundrums of man, I try not to think about this often, because of the crazy confusion it always makes me feel. But if living on Augusta Drive makes you like Mr. and Mrs.?, I will stay over on my side of town thank you very much. The bottom line is this, he is mad he has a wife who is rich and knows nothing about art. A poor person was able to infiltrate his castle somehow, and get some jewels from him and they will never be the same again.
I listed the drawing on E-bay after about a year, and sold it for $400, plus $65 shipping, sent it to Tennessee, to a happy family who were delighted to get it, and even told me that it was even more beautiful than the photos, and didn’t I know it was.
(Part 1) | Part 2