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#2 The Common Man and the Painting


His mother had told him not to go into those modern art museums. They're just not a good idea, she'd said. In fact, she'd been certain that at least three fine young gentleman she'd gone to school with had ended up either committing suicide or moving to Germany after having attended one: did he want to do something like that to his mother? But still, the common man could hardly resist the temptation. One very hot day he was very foolishly meandering about when the sun had reached its peak. Fort Worth is in Texas, after all, and Texas is a very hot place. Very very hot--steamy almost. Amidst this shimmering heat, the common man became rather confused, and, thinking it a very artistic convenience store, he wandered his way straight into the museum of modern art. Once inside, he regained his senses and shuddered with both fear and guilty pleasure to realize where he was. He sipped a soda in the museum's cafe and pondered his situation. Having made it into the jaws of hell, it seemed to him irrational not to pay the admission and get a closer look, so he did so. Not seventeen minutes into his bewildered wanderings and he found himself face to face with an abstract painting. It disturbed him. He was frozen into a trance. The common man was able to make out various body parts and eyeballs, but they did not seem to be in the proper orientation. The longer he stared, the more absorbed he became. The more absorbed into the painting he became, the more the painting was absorbed into him. When a worried museum guard risked interrupting the man's reverie nearly two hours later, he found to his horror that the common man, though standing firmly, seemed hardly sentient. The common man's left eye appeared to have slid down his face and now resided, slightly enlarged and distorted, upon his cheek by his left nostril. His mother was not surprised; she blamed his atheism. But she still loved him.