Pretty Lady writes of friends who entertain notions of buying her work, love to talk about it and then never do. This reminds me of a couple I knew in New York.
We were all pals before they got married. I always loved them both. He was an entertainment lawyer, who did very well. He liked to remind us that he could have done much better had he gone into corporate law, but the diatribes only went so far as they went from better to better apartment, hitting the Grammys and the Cannes Film Festival along the way.
First it was Little Italy. Then a couple of delicious flats in Greenwich Village. I recall the last one I ever saw them in – a back yard (!), an old stone lane - probably Barrow Street or the like.
They got into the “we want one of your paintings” mode and I offered to give them one - in all sincerity, too, because they meant a lot to me. But oh no, they must buy one. I felt a little funny about it at the time because I had this feeling it might not be a straight business deal. And for the record, it really is not all that much fun bringing out all your offspring, for someone to ooo and ahhh and comment upon, like going over the kids at the orphanage… will one find a home?
Well, they just couldn’t decide between two particular works. So I said: “Take them home and you can figure it out once they are with you.”
Life moved faster for those in the faster lane. As they moved here and there, I never did see my paintings once on their wall. Oh, probably all the busyness of moving – you know, it is distracting! And then came the babies, two adorable daughters.
I tried my best to keep a relationship with them. If she called for lunch, I would say “What time?” but I was stood up a lot. An incredible lot. So busy no doubt!
Then one night they called me from Raoul’s on Prince Street: “Oh, we were thinking about our dear friend and how much fun it would be to see you - and could you come down?”
I said give me a half hour (I lived on west 56th.) But by the time I got there, in my 14 dollar cab ride, they were gone. When I called them, they acted like their time was what had counted.
And then I said: “I want my paintings back.”
Blank silence at first on the phone. They didn’t get it. What had they to do with anything?
And sure enough, as the woman angrily handed me my paintings back in the darkness of that night, they were scratched. I have never mended them either and still have them both.
Luckily I have never had friends like that in Portland. Portland is weird in many ways – as regards relationships and what people might expect. But one thing we don’t seem to do here is dangle rotten carrots in front of each other faces. Just about anyone who ever said they wanted my work, got it, in one way or another - with very little talk, because talk is cheap.
(They live in the burbs now.)