Monday, September 8, 2014

Yokel at the Museum

While visiting the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, I saw one of the security guards go into hunting dog, alert mode. His ears pricked up. His spine snapped to attention. His hand moved to his walkie-talkie. The guard looked like a redbone hound dog flushing a covey of bobwhite quail. The molecules in his skin were standing at attention.

Someone, somewhere in the museum was breaking the rules.

“Boy oh boy,” I said to my daughter. “Some out-of-town yokel has really biffed it.” Then I pointed.

We watched the security guard stalk the rule-breaking yokel, while standing in the Greek and Roman statue garden, surrounded by centuries of priceless antiquities. It was possible to become faint from sniffing all the odor of fragile history that swirled about.

My daughter gasped. “That guard’s not after some out-of-town yokel. He’s after Dad.”

This next part happened in that weird slow motion that kicks in when airplanes crash or the grandkids tumble off the furniture.

At the sound of her gasping shock, I turned (slowly) to see my wonderful husband of thirty plus years leaning against the bust of The Goat God of Ithaca.

He had his elbow in the empty eye socket of an irreplaceable piece of irreplaceable Greek goat god statue history. He was talking on his cell phone—my husband, not the goat guy.

“Noooooo! Sherwoooooooood! What are you thinking?” I yelled. My voice echoed through the statue garden like the ghost of an ancient goat.

The security guard honed in for the kill.

I thought about shielding my spouse by throwing my body in front of the lecture on proper museum etiquette that was about to happen. But when I saw him stick his finger in his free ear to block out the sound of Captain Security Guard saying, “Sir, don’t lean on the priceless art,” and “No cell phone calls in the museum,” I reconsidered that ultimate sacrifice.

And while the above is a direct quote, there was subtext. There’s always subtext. I believe that subtext ran something along the lines of, “Listen up, you hillbilly, I don’t care what swamp you crawled out of, but you wouldn’t know a piece of priceless art if it bit you on your hillbilly butt. And if you leave your hillbilly grease on my marble, I’ll shoot you myself.”

Horrified, my daughter and I melted away into the gift shop and pretended to buy a pair of vintage inspired Egyptian earrings. Let the yokel fend for himself. However, before ditching hillbilly Sherwood, I took a snapshot of my husband’s encounter with the security guard. There was a quick flash of light.

“Lady,” another alert security type said, “there’s no flash photography in the museum.”

The picture turned out great.

Then the camera got stolen.

Linda (Tour Guide Down) Zern

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