I was high school age for one of our trips out east to Detroit when we stopped to visit a medical friend of my dad’s who had left Denver and was doctoring in Omaha. My dad and Dr. R were an unusual set of friends, I think; to this day, I can’t see what they have in common. But they’re close enough that they get together often, and even spent a week canoeing in the Boundary Waters up in Minnesota. They joked a lot about my dad’s high-brow culture tastes and Dr. R’s low-brow culture tastes. “Have you seen Top Gun?´ “Nope. Have you seen My Life as a Dog?´ “Nope.”
On this visit, however, one wacky moment with my mom took the cake. Somehow, we all wound up visiting the SAC museum, which mostly consisted of wandering on tarmacs in 100-degree heat looking at old planes. This might have been somewhat interesting for my dad, but it was not remotely my mom’s cup of tea. Nor mine.
We were inside an exhibit room where, in the middle of the room, was a glass case. Nothing was inside the glass case except a card with the words “This exhibit not yet completed” on it. Just the card. My mom decided that we should stand outside the non-exhibit and look into the glass case as though we were completely transfixed by the fascinating contents.
And we did. I put my hand up to my chin and stroked my imaginary beard. We squinted, leaned, and even whispered to each other to have conversations about the imaginary exhibit. Predictably, people would walk up to the glass case, look inside, look at my mom and me, look inside again, and walk away with some combination of pity, confusion, and irritation.
It was a hell of a fun five minutes. Try it next time you see something similar in a museum. And from my mom…who, like me, is a bit of a rule-follower...it felt just subversive enough to surprise me, and it was quite hilarious.