For her first birthday my mom gave Josie a toy that plays Mozart and Beethoven. She loves it. When it starts to play she grins and does this little bobbing dance. I’m pretty sure, though, she would do the same if it was ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ or ‘Row row row your boat.’ I find it pretty funny that we try, as adults, to instill ‘higher culture’ into small children. Besides the debunked effectiveness of the Baby Einstein line of education toys, we drag children to all sorts of cultural activities, hoping that through some sort of mysterious osmotic cultural transmission, they will become tiny eloquent versions of our better selves.
We dress up little boys and girls in tiny suits and dresses and drag them to the Nutcracker during Christmas. I think my parents took me to this, but I don’t really remember. My parents also drug me along the dirt roads of Old World Wisconsin – a historically accurate reenactment of what life was like during the 1800s in Wisconsin. I remember that, but not necessarily fondly. And speaking of ‘museum knees,’ don’t you remember when you would dawdle behind your parents through museum wing after museum wing, rolling your eyes as your parents stopped before yet another painting of fruit, bringing their fingers to their chins? The only thing that would ossify my Jell-O legs back into functioning limbs. would be the natural history wing full of dinosaur skeletons. Or maybe a sabertooth tiger.
I remember in middle school we took a field trip to the Seattle Art Museum, probably because there was a traveling Van Gogh or Monet exhibit. I don’t remember. Wandering the 3rd floor of the museum, mostly unsupervised, I noticed two of my friends on a bench by a window watching intently something on First Avenue. I walked over.
“What are you looking at?”
“Check it out.”
I sat down and grinned as I watched a guy in gorilla suit wearing pink high heels beckoning pedestrians into The Lusty Lady, the infamous downtown Seattle strip club. It must have been near Halloween, and I’m sure the marquee had some clever pun like “Costumes: 100% off!” We must have sat there until a chaperone ushered us out, having waited for some stripper to walk out absentmindedly into the cold street without any clothes on.
On the way out I must’ve have walked past countless priceless works of art. I was too busy though debating theories with my two friends on what the inside of The Lusty Lady looked like. Now if the teachers who had planned this field trip were smart, they would have waited for a Gauguin exhibit. Perhaps then we would have trailed off, brought our fingers to our chins, and paused to take in those paintings. I would have remembered that.