After a moment’s engagement in polite conversation with a couple in the pleasant town of Laguna Beach i asked the husband, ‘What do you do for a living?’ The reply came from his wife, ‘René is an artist.’ When i showed interest, Maria added, ‘And a superb one.’
René showed no embarrassment or even mock embarrassment at his wife’s qualifier but put in, ‘I take my work very seriously.’
‘That’s nice,’ i said, knowing instinctively i shouldn’t have asked but now that i’d made the mistake i was as well to see it through.
‘What kind of work do you do?’
‘I work in wood,’ René replied, ‘wood’s my medium.’
‘He creates the most awesome things in wood, just awesome,’ added the formidable Maria.
‘Would you like to see some of my work?’ René offered, and when i said, ‘if it’s not too much trouble,’ he left the bar, went to his car and came back a few minutes later bearing several pieces of stained plywood cut in triangles, squares, circles and quadrilaterals. I looked at the various pieces, looked at René and Maria and then looked at the scraps of wood again. There must have been visible evidence of confusion on my face because Maria began to enlighten me right away.
‘You see, René cuts the wood into these unique shapes and then colours the pieces and combines them in very creative patterns and designs and then he mounts them on large sheets of plywood and sells them as executive art.’
‘I aim at the discerning executive who wishes to add style to his office environment,’ René said.
‘Don’t you think that’s rather special?’ Maria asked me.
‘It’s interesting,’ i managed.
‘It’s awesome!’ Maria exclaimed.
At that moment i had no way of telling when last they’d sniffed a line of the powder so dear to potential movers and shakers but i strongly suspected it had been only a minute or two before meeting me as both had pronounced artificial headcolds and were given to occasional wiping of nostrils. But even the dream drug wasn’t enough to excuse Maria’s next enunciation: ‘Well, John – it is John, right? – let’s put it this way, if Michelangelo could do it, René can do it.’