Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The yoga teacher, the artist, and the rat

TIME: Selected Saturdays, Sundays, Friday and Thursday evenings LOCATION: Your local art galleries' open houses EQUIPMENT: Penchant for small talk, perhaps a Ziploc in your purse to steal cheese cubes OPTIONAL: Dead rodent

Every so often all the art galleries in the area get together to organize "gallery-hopping" days, of which the Dupont Circle First Fridays are probably the most famous. And sometimes galleries have receptions, open to the public, to promote a new artists' work.

I was walking past 15th and P one afternoon last fall when I noticed that the art gallery on the corner was having an open house. It was in the basement of the building, slightly lower than the road, which perhaps explained why there weren't any people there. So, always being up for a chat with an artist and free snacks, I wandered in and accosted the gallery owner. He was a mid-thirties classic Dupont Circle well-groomed type, and he was happy to walk me around his brightly coloured photo-realistic paintings (which I liked; some of them were powerfully emotional). After some chat about his artistic vision, I commented that I liked the colour scheme in his living room (he'd painted each wall a different vibrant colour.)

Immediately, laser-blue sparks kindled in each of the artist's pupils, and I recognized the passionate flame of the obsessively house-proud. Yes, he'd had to knock down that wall over there, and he still wasn't sure about that window, it might need some adjustment, and the garden had taken years of work to get it right, and he still wasn't sure about the left corner with the shade-bearing perennials, but overall he was pretty happy with everything. "But the one problem with this house," he added lugubriously, "is the neighbors. They're absolute slobby pigs."

"Oh really?" I asked sympathetically. "I thought it was getting so ritzy around here."

"Not at all. You would not believe how horrible my neighbors are. They dump trash everywhere. In the street, in my yard...they have no conception of public responsibility. I've been trying to speak out about it but frankly it's really starting to bother me."

His aura was becoming vermillion, so I changed the subject to gossip about my landlord at the time, who was the owner of the Fondo del Sol gallery on 21st and R (I lived in its basement for a summer.)


I'm out to dinner to celebrate graduation from my teacher training program at Tranquil Space. There are about six of us from the training program, along with one of our teachers, Lisa, and her fiancee. Lisa is a good-humoured and engaging woman, but I'd only ever talked with her in the context of her teaching me; now we were both drinking martinis.

I had my attention turned to a different conversation, but I vaguely heard Lisa's husband exclaiming, "Oh, tell the one about the rat!"

I'm ever eagle-eared for a good story, so I urged Lisa, "Tell it, tell it!"

"Well," Lisa said, "I have this crazy neighbor. He's totally obsessive and insane."

"Where do you live?"

"On 15th and P. He owns this art gallery - have you noticed it? You can see the paintings from the street. They're really ugly."

"Yes, I do know that gallery, in fact..."

A furrow appeared between Lisa's lovely eyebrows.

"Well, this guy is nuts. I was leaving the house one day, and I had this bag full of junk mail that I grabbed on the way out. I threw it away in the public trashcan on the corner. When I got back to my house that evening, there was a note from my neighbor pinned on the door. He said that he'd been watching me throw away the trash in the public bin and it was inappropriate, those bins were public and not for our private residential trash. He'd also pinned the CVS bag and a few of the pieces of junk mail to the door as well."

"So he actually went and looked at your trash?"

"Yep. Well, I went and talked to him and told him I didn't think it was inappropriate for me to do at all. And I kept on using the public trashcans. Well, he kept on watching - his studio windows face right onto the corner - and every time he noticed me throwing something away there, he'd leave it on my doorstep!"

"Wow. That's so bizarre..."

"Well, one day I had a mouse in my apartment that got caught in a trap. I'd been away for the weekend, so it had been dead for a few days and smelled pretty rank. So I wrapped it in a plastic bag and waited until I knew that my neighbor was in his studio watching. Then I threw it away in the street corner trash can. I never got another note again."


Blogger alex said...

That is hilarious. I know Lisa. My former boyfriend and I were Tranquil Space Yogis of the month, ages and ages ago. I also know that artist because his work used to be displayed at Mimi's American Bistro

3:37 PM  
Blogger zzzzzoe said...

Lisa's great. I think a good sense of humour is one of the best assets you can have on a spiritual path ;)

1:41 PM  

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