Saturday, February 20, 2016


by Drew Martin

The other night I had an adventure. It was an evening of trying to get home from an event in Manhattan that ended in a swanky bar, and it involved a cast of characters: a group of Weill Cornell medical students on the panoramic 65th floor of 30 Rock questioning me about my prostate, a young Palestinian man who I met in the bowels of Port Authority after midnight and was studying something like liberation theology, Nora - a young waitress with whom I rode the last bus out of New York (1:30 AM) who told me about her Mayan ancestry and the Mayan words mixed with the Spanish they speak in the Yucatán, and Darren - a super nice bus driver, who told me that I looked like I lost my best friend when Nora got off the bus. Darren said he used to have a pest control business and would fumigate apartments in Brooklyn including the actor John Turturro's place. I thought about those famous people who avoid paparazzi but do not think much about people like Darren snooping around because they do not actually think of them as people. Darren drove me to my town, where we finally arrived at 2:30 in the morning. The last twenty minutes we were the only ones on the bus - driving through dark, wooded suburbia. We could not place the accent of the middle-aged cleaning lady passengers on their way home from their night shifts. One of them, a strong-bodied bleach-blonde, was the last of them to get off. When I offered that perhaps she was from from Albania, or somewhere in that region, Daren coolly replied, "I do not know where she is from, but I do know this: she has got a nice body." Typically I do not like when other men "go there" about women, but Darren said it with a special kind of admiration, and most men would not have looked twice at this woman. He told me a story about the night prior - a young man fell asleep and missed his stop, one of the first on the route, and did not wake up until the last stop, my stop. Darren did not want to let him off because it is a conservative town and the young man was "goth" so Darren took him on the bus to another town where he would have less of a problem and let him off at an all-night diner so that he would have a place to stay until the buses started running again. When I was getting off Darren reached to shake my hand and said, "Andrew, I hope to see you again." I warmly shook his hand and said, "Yes, but not on this bus." The evening had undertones of failure, starting with my not being able to get home to my family at a respectable hour (which I felt led to a chain of other events) - Nora and two of the medical students had been ballet dancers, and fell short of their dreams. Nora was divorced and one of the medical students told me in shock of how her hedge-fund boyfriend of three years had just kicked her out once she started talking to him about having kids. And that led to my remembering a line from a recent show I had seen in which the character says, "Your kids will always disappoint you." I thought about this long and hard as a father of three and as a son myself, and the affects of the successes of one on the other. I carried the idea over to the art world and the first work that came to mind was Van Gogh's The Potato Eaters from 1885. Though it has glimmers of hope, it is a painting about disappointment. And then, for some reason, perhaps because I looked at Giorgio de Chirico's The Melancholy of Departure from 1914 the other day, I had a dream about explosives being transported in bananas.