Man-Made Ugly

 

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Click, click, click. I backed up and changed the setting on my camera. I was working on a series of photos called, “Natural Beauty, Man-made Ugly.” I liked to juxtapose hideous with beautiful, such as a great blue heron posed on an oil rig, or a wild flower sprouting from a pile of trash. I didn’t expect to find a subject at this art show, but here I was looking at the most atrocious sculpture I had ever seen placed in a beautiful window with a cherry blossom tree in the background.  Serendipity!  Click, click, click.

I looked up from my camera and saw a man staring at me. “They said it was okay to take photos!”  I explained.

The man looked at the sculpture then back at me.  “You must really like this piece?”  He extended his hand, “My name is Jeffrey. I’m the artist.”

“Nice to meet you.” Damn. How can such a beautiful man create such hideous art? 

I continued to speak to the handsome but untalented artist for several minutes, noting his warmth and confidence.  I didn’t tell him why the sculpture caught my eye.

We walked around the gallery together, commenting on the other work. Eventually we reached the reception area where there had been a great display of food, before a flock of human vultures descended on the spread.

“Too bad,” I commented, “I’m pretty hungry and that food actually looked good.”

“Hey, I know a place around the corner that has great Mexican food. Can I convince you to join me?”

I didn’t hesitate, yet I was torn. I thought of explaining to my best friend that I met a handsome man who creates ugly art. Some might find this ridiculous, but LeAnne would get it.  It is like an athlete being with someone sedentary, or a musician with someone who listens to top forty.  I had standards and would prefer a non-artist over a bad one.

At the restaurant his confidence waned and he seemed fidgety, a quality that was not exactly charming.  “Look,” he said, “I wasn’t honest with you about something.”

Uh-oh, here it comes.  He’s married.

“I’m not really an artist.”

“No kidding!”  I blurted out.  “I was taking those photos because your sculpture was so bad!”

“So you weren’t honest either?”  He laughed.  “What I meant was I didn’t even create that sculpture.  I came here to see my sister’s work.  I spontaneously lied when I got caught staring at you.”

My shoulders relaxed, “Thank goodness.”

“I’m sorry I lied about it. I was just embarrassed and didn’t know what to say. I didn’t expect to be lucky enough to be eating dinner with you an hour later.”

“I’m sorry too. I didn’t want to be rude, but I lied by omission. I’m so relieved you didn’t create that piece.”

We toasted our glasses “To the truth.”  Now I had a story I would be happy to tell LeAnne.

 

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