Everyone has a museum-going style. Maybe you’re the type who needs time to stand in front of each artwork, taking it in, reading the description, taking it in some more, discussing your thoughts and feelings with museum-goers around you, backing up a little and murmuring “Mmm, yes.”
Or perhaps you’re the type to look at a piece of art and say, “That sure is a piece of art”, or “I like that one” or “Eh, I could do that”, nod, and move on.
I’m not saying there’s a type that’s superior, but I’m the second type, and I can’t handle going to museums with the first. I’m sure Type #1 hates going to museums with the likes of me, too. I’m sure they think I’m a dilettante who’s both impatient and shallow and that my hair is stupid.
Meanwhile when I’m at a museum with Type #1, I find myself staring at pieces of art for so long I feel like my eyes are bleeding, and while I’m congratulating myself for giving this artwork way more effort than it deserved, I look around and see my old pal Type #1 is 10 artworks behind me, lost in a reverie.
I had a disastrous date with an incompatible museum-goer. Unfortunately it was several dates into our relationship, when I had already invested myself emotionally. I really liked him! He was funny and smart and interesting. Then we went to an exhibit at the Guggenheim. I can’t remember the artist, but the art installations were all trash. Literally: like, piles of string and collections of lightbulbs.
I thought we’d be out of there in 30 minutes, maybe an hour. But no. No, my date had to stare interminably at each pile of water bottles, each jumble of tin cans, each hummock of shredded credit-card receipts, each cairn of Pringles lids. He’d squint and press lips together, nodding. I tried to do the same, but after a while, my head was just filled with screams. 45 minutes in, we were only a quarter of the way through.
By the time we got out of there, I knew we were doomed, and I was correct. At dinner that night, I couldn’t help but notice that he was kind of pretentious and self-involved. He didn’t seem all that impressed with me any more, either. We broke it off shortly thereafter. Think of the time we could have saved ourselves, not to mention the heartache, if a museum date had been our first one! How quickly and painlessly we would have ditched one another!
And make no mistake, we were right to ditch each other, because our museum-going styles showed that we were fundamentally incompatible: one of us was fun (if flighty and impatient) and the other one was awful (if intense and deep), with a terrible trash obsession. But seriously: if we couldn’t get our museum rhythms to sync up, I believe that meant we weren’t responding to (or particularly enjoying) each other’s cues, and I don’t think that predicted great things for our relationship.
Luckily, I now have a partner who will join me in enjoying an exhibit, eavesdropping on other museum-goers, taking pictures of ourselves impersonating the artwork, and then getting the hell out of there. This is what I want for you. Take your date to a museum right away, and find your match.