Hippies Wouldn’t Hang That

By David Kaplan

The diver stood at the edge of the pool. His body was tan and taut. Maybe he was an Olympian. Brightness reflected off his white trunks and matching swimming cap like a mirror, almost blinding the viewer. His back was arched. His knees were bent. The water splashing over the pool’s edge, tapping his first two toes. The sky was cloudless azure. The water in ripples and small rounded waves was dark royal.

“It’s wrong, it’s all completely wrong,” Susan said. “They’d hate it. They wouldn’t know what to do with it. It’ll clash with their precious ikat couch. It makes me sick just imagining it.”

“You think they think everything has to match the couch – they might look at it differently,” Robert said, staring at the painting. He really liked it.

The gallery was a single room in a storefront on Essex St. Three walls with a door leading to the back. Or it could have been leading to a bathroom.

The receptionist, a brown-haired woman in pumps, looked like she’d walked out of mail order catalogue for serious graduate students. Even though it was a humid July day, she was wearing a long-sleeve black mock turtleneck and a paisley skirt. On her desk was a pile of 12 desultory placed brochures, a paperback copy of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, and an empty bottle of water, its plastic ribs crushed inward as if to remind her she was done. (Secretly, this model gallerista stared out the wall-size glass window at the street and wished the couple would leave so she could fart in peace and close up.)

“Look at the price – it’s only $480. We can afford that. It might be worth something someday,” Robert said.

The receptionist huffed, but only Susan seemed to hear her.

“This is the first thing we looked at, there are three other places we should visit first,” Susan said. “You just don’t want to do this.”

“Oh, I think I said that yesterday. I think I said: ‘I don’t want to do this.’ You can’t buy them art. They don’t have taste. And you should know, you can’t just hand people taste and change their lives, let alone their living room.”

“I hate their living room. I can’t go and look at their blank walls with just a dream catcher. It makes me sick. I’m serious, Robert. I get visual bulimia when we go over there.”

Robert stared back at the painting. He wanted to leave. But he really liked it. Still, did he want to spend $480 on it? Maybe he could negotiate for $400. Would they really make a big deal about $80?

Susan was getting claustrophobic. The air in this closet of a gallery was starting to get foul. She held her breath a bit and exhaled.

“C’mon, let’s just get a drink,” she said. She knew that would get him to move.

Robert sniffed and shook his head as he turned toward the door.

“Yeah, the hippies wouldn’t hang that. ”

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