a sense of worth in California

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.’

22 thoughts on “a sense of worth in California

  1. Having spent over 50 years keeping my head above the murky, narcissistic waters of Hollyweird before grabbing onto a life raft floating away from my plight, I can attest to not only the delusional quality of the many residents of southern California, but also to the willingness to glowingly push it into a listener’s face. Hopefully, you’ve not had to endure more of the same.

  2. The arrogant the incompetent and the insecure appear to have congregated in SoCal. The blush of reality has never adorned most resident’s cheeks. The look at me crowd go about in a perpetual state of advanced emoting. One characteristic infects almost all of them, delusions of grandeur. Their self worth far exceeds their innate abilities.

  3. Great story, John – a favorite, now. We’ve all had those uncomfortable moments when we wish we could rewind time to completely avoid an awkward, weird encounter!

  4. Often it’s hard to have a sense of worth living in California where the bodies all seem perfect with those smiles from the smile doctor and their dynamite bodies of golden hues. I don’t miss living in So. California but oh I do miss living in Monterey/Carmel. By that time, I’d learned to enjoy festivals wherein all entries had been judged by a jury.
    For me, it’s a little like having someone tell you they are writing a book. I feel compelled to ask what the book is about and then I’m stuck for another couple hours.

  5. Thanks for checking out my blog; I’m currently LMAO (and I don’t usually use alphagunk) over this item. All the weirdness in California seems to be within 50 miles of the water. You don’t get that in Turlock or Fresno– although there’s a different kind of strange, inland. Although in San Francisco where I live, the Sunset district, out by the beach, is the ordinary side of town.

  6. I enjoyed your story, John. I have never been to California–Each Spring I say to my children, “One day, I am going to put the pedal to the metal and go to California. I have this longing to go West!” But, after reading your story, I guess I will direct my travel ambition to Northern California. I was just speaking to a friend of mine the other evening on the subject of pretension. It seems people in Wisconsin do not say much–quite to the point–or, nothing at all, but a few “Hmmphs”…and very few brag about themselves—because they will quickly lose listeners. LOL. I am sure we sound quite abrupt to people in other parts of the USA. Your story is so H U M A N.

    • Yes, Northern California would seem to be the safer option. Thank you for reading and commenting, you are very generous with your time and your kind words.
      My best to you

  7. John, a truth well told! Scraps of plywood glued to more plywood, art huh?

    “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.”

    You have me laughing so hard, I’m crying!

    Take care,

    • Happy to raise a laugh, Pepper..and I can still see the formidable Maria and her earnest face and Rene’s equally serious face..god love ‘me both!
      Bless You for your great support.

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