Sunday, July 26, 2009
A Soup Kitchen Vibe at the Art Gallery
I'm pictured above with Holly Chmil, who designed the beautiful postcard announcing my photo exhibit. It was taken at the opening reception.
The first to arrive Friday night was a pair of men well known in the city for showing up at every event that promises free refreshments. I encountered them last year when I emceed a poetry evening in the park. It was a covered-dish event, with everyone bringing food or drink to share. Everyone except these two locusts, who filled their plates immediately upon arrival and then sat down at a table, bending over the plates and shoveling in the food. I lost count of how many times they refilled those plates.
I was more amused than annoyed that night because a) we had plenty of food and b) the outdoor venue reduced our exposure to the men's smell. However, we had a limited amount of food at the reception on Friday, and the enclosed space, which had seemed large before the men's arrival, shrunk rapidly in direct proportion to how long they stayed.
This time they filled up their (small) plates and sat down to dig in. I stood a distance from them, mentally tapping my foot. They came back for seconds, sat down again, and resumed eating. I moved over to the food table and assumed a guarding stance. Several other people arrived, including a man named Prescott who told me the omnivorous pair drove an Audi.
"You're kidding." I said.
"Nope. It's parked right across the street. The dark green."
I turned and looked out the window, expecting to see an old clunker, if there is such a thing as an Audi clunker. But the dark green car across the street was a late-model vision. Son of a bitch!
One of the gourmands got up and shuffled over to the food table. I was ready for him. Snatching the paper plate out of his hand, I dropped it in the trash and said, "Thank you for coming."
"I'm getting some cookies," he said, and picked up a new plate.
Prescott found this hilarious. He called a friend on his cell and told her all about it. The gluttons didn't appear to notice. Prescott's friend must have given him an idea, because he hung up and approached the pair.
"Time for donations!" he announced. When they just stared at him, he explained, "This event is a fundraiser for homeless children . . . "
"And poor widows," I interrupted.
" . . . and poor widows," he added. "All attendees are expected to contribute something."
"No they're not," the cookie monster said, and popped something chocolatey into his mouth.
His partner came back for dessert, too.
Beginning to feel a little desperate, and more than a little irritated, I looked out the window again. "Oh, no!" I exclaimed. "Do we know who owns that Audi across the street? Smoke is coming out of it."
Prescott picked right up on this cue and flew into action, flinging open the door and running out to the sidewalk. "FIRE!!" he yelled.
One of the pair started to turn around, but the other stopped him. "He's kidding, he's kidding," he said.
It occurred to me that they must hear this sort of thing a lot. I'll have to think up something more convincing for the next time. We're planning another poetry reading in the park in August. Maybe we should advertise it as "Poetry, Music, and Really Bad-Tasting, Potentially Hazardous Food." Or, better yet, "An Evening of Culture for Fasters: Poetry, Music, and No Food or Drink Whatsoever."