She has been a bone of contention in my marriage for the past 15 years.
The Girl in the Red Scarf was spotted in a gallery window in exotic Watford back in 1999. She caught my eye and held it – don’t ask me why. Maybe it was her vacant expression, staring off into the indeterminate distance, pondering… something. Was it the colors? The rich ruby of her scarf echoed in the flowers; the gold and sharp citron tones faded into deep shadow. Whatever it was, I loved her. Loved. L.O.V.E.D.
My husband insists it must have been her freakishly misshapen and oversized hands.
I am still mystified about what it was I loved so much. Though I couldn’t put my finger on it, I pulled out my debit card and was all set to put my money on it.
Who painted her? The gallery owner informed me it was an Eastern European artist. To this day, I do not know what struggling art student flogged this beautiful oil to the gallery owner. Clearly, it was no one famous. Still, our Girl in the Red Scarf came with a hefty price tag, so hefty, in fact, that I had to make a deal with the gallery owner to pay for her over time. The frame, which was being clearanced, was not included in the price.
For months, I kept her secret from my husband. She was my ruby red secret that I visited once a month. Like an adulterous wife, I would sneak off to Watford and pop into the gallery, follow the owner to the back of the shop where the “sold” works were hung and spend a few covert minutes admiring her. I would leave my payment with the gallery owner and return to life as usual, always longing for the day I could bring her home. I simply had to free her from her gallery prison.
Was this madness to love a piece of art so much that I was willing to obtain her by covert means? Was this not embezzlement of household funds? Was this not wrong on multitudinous levels?
But in this life, if I have learned nothing, I have learned this: It is easier to seek forgiveness than to beg permission.
The day I paid the last of her ransom and freed my beautiful Girl, I brought her home and hung her in pride of place over the fireplace. Hubby walked into the living room, took one look at The Girl in the Red Scarf and walked right back out.
A million questions followed. Who was she? What was she doing in his living room? And, what is more, HOW MUCH DID SHE COST?
When I was 17, I landed the lead role in our high school play, “Trixie True, Teen Detective.” Kind of a musical takeoff on the Nancy Drew mysteries. For that role, I had to learn to tapdance, and it is a skill I have honed over the years into a fine art, figuratively speaking. I time-stepped my way through a hundred different vagaries, shrugging and sidestepping, parrying, flinging in a shot or two of passive aggressivity now and again, alternately sulking and cajoling, and to no avail.
In the harsh, white light of righteous indignation, my art-dultery was shown up in stark relief. There was nowhere to hide. My Inquisitor was not buying my boloney, not for one minute. For all that he never – EVER – shops, he knows quality when he sees it, and this girl, he knew – HE KNEW – was an expensive oily trollop who had led his wife down the garden path and made off with his wallet.
And thus he has viewed her to this day.
Nevertheless, she has graced 3 of our previous homes, crossed the Atlantic twice by sea, and to this day presides over our dining room, holding court, a queen over all she surveys. Misshapen hands and all. Oh, she has been in the crosshairs a time or two – every time we downsize, the question of her fate is up for debate. Still, she remains.
I have not sought forgiveness, and yet, by some grace it has been granted. He loves me, apparently.
p.s. She is signed T.C. Reib… that is all I know of her artist. Love blinded me to the obvious need to assess her ancestry, I guess. Oops. 🙂
© motherhendiaries 2014 all rights reserved