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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Most Embarrassing Moments

Everyone has a "most embarrassing moment".  Mine tend to revolve around food.  In recent years, whenever I go to a restaurant I try to order an entree to match my shirt.  And napkins are no help.  They always seem more intent on protecting the carpet than my lap.  I think there's a conspiracy between restaurateurs dry cleaners to only use napkins with a penchant for migrating south.

My own most "most embarrassing moment" would have to be my first day as a student-teacher some 38 years ago when I sat down at lunch in the school cafeteria for the first time with the faculty and staff of my former high school, no longer as a student, but as a very nervous "faculty" member.  I leaned forward to pull up my chair, and there in front of everyone, I promptly baptized my new crushed velvet necktie in my tomato soup.

American artist and illustrator, Norman Rockwell, told the story of attending a banquet with fellow artists and being seated next to a  young lady who recognized him and began to rattle on at length about how much she admired him, how much she loved his work, and how she would someday like to own one of his paintings.  It quickly became apparent she knew very little about art in general and even less about his work in particular.  Finally, over dessert, she managed to get up courage enough to ask for his autograph, which he proffered on a paper napkin. 

Monhegan, Maine, 1950, Rockwell Kent

Smiling she examined the signature whereupon her face fell.  She looked up and gasped an audible, "Who?"  She had mistaken Norman Rockwell for the American Impressionist landscape painter, Rockwell Kent, whose work and political activism were about as diametrically opposite that of the Saturday Evening Post illustrator as can be imagined.

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