Do you notice how much of the action is behind the curtain? You know what I mean — hidden from view. I stumble across this phenomenon every time I think about whether I enjoyed an event, or the emotional impact of an object, or even whether I connect to a person I’ve just met. For example, if you’re like me, you always find out that the dinner guest, whom you’ve described to your spouse as catatonic for the first half of your vibrant conversation and unpleasantly assertive the second half, was in fact suffering all evening under the horrible knowledge that his tumor was growing. Great. Now you’ve not only had an unpleasant time at dinner, but you feel guilty for being such a schmuck, and then you’re angry at the guest for having a tumor. True. But, notice, the tumor was there all the time — behind the curtain. And the corollary to this behind-the-curtain garbage that really bites, is that THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING BEHIND THE CURTAIN. Lord help me.
I’ve been trying this theory out over the last couple of weeks by trying to peek a bit into the shadows. In a recent trip to Kansas City for a wedding, we visited a museum that is astoundingly world-class: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Listen, don’t get nervous. Monster trucks are still my go-to preference. I don’t even like to use the word “museum” without saying 10 Hail Marys. Will this make you more comfortable? “While driving our flatbed to a Kansas City barbecue-and-beer joint, we saw this front lawn . . . .”
Yup, those are two gigantic birdies sitting in the front yard — made by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen — and, believe it or not, there are two more in the backyard. Do you recognize those names? They’re the same crazy couple who made our Crusoe Umbrella in downtown Des Moines.
In the area between the four birdies exists the museum. Inside, amongst a gazzillion other beauties, is a painting by Pieter Claesz. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten where we’re going. Here’s the picture:
Yes, it’s a still life. Come on, take the knife out of your heart, I feel the same way about still lives. But I want you to follow the light. If you lean in closely, you’ll see this:
Do you see the window reflected in the glass? Now, go through the window. You’re outside in the sunshine. Dancing. How did that happen? Well, you went behind the curtain.
Of course, this theory may be malarkey as most theories are. And, more importantly, where is that barbecue-and-beer joint?