There was this cute new restaurant that opened down the block from me when I lived in Amsterdam. I only ate there once – not because it wasn’t good, but because it was super small inside so you mainly had to sit on the front patio which was really just the sidewalk that faced the Overtoom, which is one of Amsterdam’s busiest streets. But one evening I sat there with one of my best friends and we dined on fries with mayonnaise and perhaps several biertjes. The dinner of champions pretty much when you are in your late 20s and single.
We were laughing and yelling over the traffic noise when this older man approached us to show us his paintings. He put them all out on the table without even asking us if we wanted to look at his work and then asked us what we thought. I told the street artist that his paintings were mooi(pretty) but we weren’t interested in buying. And he started yelling at me because I offended him by saying they were just simply ‘mooi’ when I should’ve more properly said they were magnificent, or deep, or emotionally indescribable, or of historical significance, or each a masterpiece in its own right…because ‘pretty’ is what you tell your four year old when she first draws a flower. So he grabbed his ‘art’ and told me that I wasn’t even good enough to buy his work.
So I ate another fry. With extra mayo.
This is what I look like for my run when the temps fall below zero. One time, about 20 years ago(when I was five), I was running in this same mask at 5am and popped into the gas station to buy a newspaper on my way home. The clerk immediately opened the cash drawer, fell the floor and started yelling ‘don’t kill me, don’t kill me!” So I placed my four quarters on the counter, grabbed the Sunday paper and left without killing her as she requested.
Just a few years back I was running in my neighborhood in the same mask when the cops pulled up to me with their lights on and asked what I was doing. I pulled my mask and hat off, letting my hair fall down my back, and smiled as I said I was a 40 year housewife out for her morning run. I’m sure most robbers at 5am are wearing good Nikes and performance fleece while jogging at a very steady pace down the main road. There have been studies.
Anyway, just because you wear a black mask it doesn’t mean you are a bad guy. It also means that just because someone seems like a perfectly normal and moderately talented street artist, it doesn’t mean they are not an asshole.