21 November 2009

Pinata Party

Friday, 20 November 2009

We're not exactly art aficionados. I don't have time for the abstract. I want my trees to look like trees and my landscapes to be colorful. Still, we found ourselves heading to a gallery for a showing. There were several reasons we couldn't not go.
  • It was really close to our place.
  • We were pretty sure there would be a featured (free) alcohol.
  • The showing was of a pinata living room, destined to be smashed.
And maybe I would have still chosen to stay home and sleep, had Joel & I not come across some of the prep work while doing laundry. We saw the couch - a whole pinata love seat - being brought into the gallery. It looked really cool, and imagining the treats that could fill a love seat was great motivation. So off we went Friday to a small art gallery made tiny by a paper mache living room. Not wanting to miss the smashing, we got there just a few minutes after the showing started. Let's call that "mistake #1."

The smashing (according to the artist) was not to start until the gallery was at capacity. And while it was crowded, it was not at capacity. We had drinks. We ate snacks. We listened to the chatter. We watched the hipsters mingle. We did not participate, as we are not fans of the hispters. We all have our reasons.

For me, it's the pretending to be poor. No one who actually is poor wants the world to know. It's only "cool" to wear tattered, dirty clothes when you have a Macbook in your backpack, an iPhone in your back pocket, and a fancy camera hanging underneath your scraggly beard. Poverty is not an accessory. You have every right to trim your hair with a razor but don't take a real problem like poverty and use it to make friends. If you live in a city as expensive as San Francisco, you don't need to look like you sleep under a bridge. We all know you don't. I mean how would you charge your smartphone?

So Jesse, Joel & I huddled close. We dared not speak, because we had little positive to say. Unfortunately, staying quiet meant we heard all of the conversations around us. It was painful. "But those glasses are such an integral part of your style." We were ready to witness some smashing and get out.

We had managed to get right up against the paper mache living room carpet. We had a really good view, but no drinks. Did we (Jesse) risk our spot to stand in line for a drink? Would drinks be enough consolation for our suffering, or justification for missing the moment? Worst case scenario, he was in line with his back to the show and missed the climax. We deemed it not a risk worth taking. That can be "mistake #2."

We stood, grumbling quietly and being smashed from all sides. And then - finally - capacity. But it was too much. There were to many people. We were right up against the edge of the display. We were going to get hit. We had to move back. That's right. We waited until the gallery was full so we could push people back out the doors. And then it was time. The artist thanked us for coming, then started destroying her creation. First reaction: disappointment.

She smashed and smashed and I didn't see any candy. Not a peanut butter cup or a Tootsie Roll. She wielded her bat and all I saw were Styrofoam peanuts. I was frozen with despondency. She moved from piece to piece and just before the crowd mutterings became grumblings, candies appeared. They appeared first as little spots of color, then as heavy "plops" that sounded like hail. There was less than I had hoped, but more than I had feared. The artist gave the bat to some guy. And then things got weird.

There's a reason kids hit pinatas and grown men don't. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. It was a gross and sad display of machismo. They were just beating things because they thought the beating was cool. It was like they were all peacocks and that the bat was the tool through which they could display their colors. Here you can see at least one responsible adult shielding a kid the thoughtless swinging:




And it continued. Dude after dude showed that paper mache who was boss. Meanwhile, over in my corner, a few of us brave and greedy soul started picking up the candy. Realizing there wasn't going to be enough for everyone, the greediest among us had to act fast. And then it was just messy and weird. We stood outside -- where we had front row seats to a girl-vs-girl attack. Something about a (smaller) girl who contacted a (larger) girl's man via Myspace. The larger girl started with a ponytail yank / twist that got the smaller girl literally into the gutter. There were some unnecessary kicks to the head and I think more hair pulling. The smaller girl never even tried to defend herself. She was dominated by at least 30 pounds anyway. The boyfriend at the heart of the drama was embarrassed - not enough to break it up, but enough to stay away from the brouhaha and yell at his girlfriend from up against a wall.

They left and so did we. I don't think I have the stomach for art.