Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

I'm taking two of my angels to the museum today, along with several of their friends. The exhibit's about sports, so that reduces the odds that they'll run through the halls like escapees from "The Ransom of Red Chief." It'll help too that before we go we'll eat at a local Italian deli. A belly full of pizza and pasta should produce the desirable lethargy in the herd.

Museums are one of those things that my family doesn't use as often as we "should." The kids get annual school field trips to one or another of them. On vacation, we usually end up at a few - I'm a "World's Second Largest Ball of Twine" kind of guy, much to my family's delight. During the rest of the year, it's typically only if there's a particularly interesting exhibit (see, e.g., Sports). I've learned my lesson.

A few years ago, an Impressionism tour came to town. I loaded my precious gifts from God into the car and headed off, ignoring my Lovely Bride's advice. Bought them a staggeringly expensive lunch and then paid an equally staggering special admission cost, after promising them either ice cream or death at the end of the day, depending on behavior. In we went.

It was insanely crowded, as these things always are. (Ask my mother about a trip to the King Tut show during my own childhood. It was almost enough to make her swear off culturizing me.) And, of course, it was Freakishly Tall People Admitted Free Day, which meant that under the best of circumstances we'd see a lot more backs and heads than we would paintings.

These, however, were not the best of circumstances. Three minutes after arriving, one of my lambs was laying on the floor, doing an imitation of a snow angel with cerebral palsy. Another was complaining that his stomach hurt, raising the specter of America's greatest art treasures covered in vomit. Another was satisfied with simply listing all my deficiencies. Loudly.

If this was an exhibition of modern art, perhaps I could have passed it off as part of the show, some kind of performance piece. Not here, though, and certainly not when the docents were starting to whisper into their sleeves like Secret Service agents. Having spent upwards of ninety dollars on lunch, parking, and admissions, we lasted a total of twelve minutes at the museum. It was a very long drive home.

While extreme, this wasn't a singular event. There was the time at the science museum when I turned around (prompted by the laughter of other patrons) to see my youngest with his arms stretched out, lurching along and chanting, "Zombies eat brains." There have been the endless fights at museum gift shops, most of them centered on unyielding demands, and equally unyielding refusals, to buy a rubber coral snake or a stuffed tiger or some other crap that Wal-Mart sells for a third of the cost.

So why do I persist? I suppose mostly because the time's approaching when I won't be able to use pizza and ice cream to convince them to come with me. Soon, I'll go to museums alone or with my wife, and it'll be quiet and grown-up instead of an adventure. It'll be nice, but it will also be a little sad.


Anonymous said...

I have so lucked out with my lamblets and museums... they like them. My oldest could stay all day. My youngest does have an expiration date, but if we plan around that, it usually works.

I'm sorry to say though that if the exhibition were about sports, after about 30 minutes, I'd probably be the one saying, "Zombies eat brains!"...

Anonymous said...


It might be cheaper but at what cost?

Snag, has Malkin taken over your blog or something?

Snag said...

I don't buy it at Wal-Mart either. We handmake all of our toys, here in our little trailer in the woods.