One time my mom took my brothers and I with her on an errand. None of us were teenagers yet. She had to stop by a woman’s house, and of course she couldn’t leave us in the car. To my young eyes, the house might as well have belonged to Thurston Howell the third. A curving staircase wound down into the foyer, and on its own special pedestal was a small bronze figure of a woman in a ballet pose. She was naked.
We had been raised in very strict Christian schools and churches, and had never seen anything like this. Mom introduced us to the lady, and was talking about whatever grownup business they had. None of this was interesting. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the statue.
The woman noticed my brothers acting strange. They were silently blushing furiously and looking very hard at the walls. “Oh, you are embarrassed by the nude. Here, let’s go into the living room.” I was disappointed to leave her.
When I moved to my own apartment, without the censorship of parents and church, I was able to buy my own nude wall hanging. For years this reproduction hung on my wall:
She is lovely! And it says right there at the bottom “Picasso.” A billboard telling anyone that sees it this is FINE ART. She is naked and yet modest. I loved looking at this picture on my living room wall.
Somehow, when we last moved, she was put in the garage and I hadn’t seen that painting in quite a while.
Here is the reproduction that hangs on my wall now, frameless:
I’ve written about her before. She is in the room where I get dressed in the morning. She is also getting dressed, my beautiful doppelganger. Degas is a less ostentatious name than Picasso, but I no longer give a damn.
La Toilette is womanhood in action, practical beauty. She is getting ready to get going on her day. And no apologies, right now her boob has to be hanging out for that to happen.
When we cleaned out the garage I rediscovered my Picasso woman. At first I greeted her as an old friend. Oh! Yes! I have loved this painting on my wall!
Then I stopped and looked again.
She is tight and huddled. Yes, for those years she was my doppelganger too. I was stepping away from family and church, naked to all the world. Ready to experience and be exposed; yet still huddling protectively.
Poor nude Picasso.
Things are changed. She does not belong on my wall. I’m ready to open my heart and expose more to the world.