If I Was a Work of Art

“Tables for Ladies”

I went to the Metropolitan Art Museum this week and studied the great works of art that surrounded me. Temptation almost got the best of me when I saw some museum curators (two men who looked like they should be working at a Texaco) remove a Georgia O’Keefe painting leaving a big blank space on the wall. It took a lot of effort to not run up to it, hang a Bitchy Waiter necklace on the nail and slap a publicity sticker underneath it. While there, I was struck by a painting called “Tables for Ladies” by Edward Hopper. It was painted in 1930 and it showed a sad little restaurant with a sad cashier and a sadder looking waitress. I learned that in the ’30’s a restaurant with a sign that said “tables for ladies” welcomed single women diners who were finding their new found independence. Up until that point in history, it was the assumption that any woman who was sitting alone in a restaurant was a prostitute. Anyhoo, there in the middle of the Metropolitan Art museum, I suddenly knew that I was once that lady in the painting. In a previous life, I was that middle aged blond waitress and my memories flew back to that mid October night when Edward Hopper walked past me at my job over on 56th Street. Why, I remember it like it was yesterday…


I didn’t use a flash…

Oh look…there’s that creepy artist guy Edward Hopper who always wants me to pose for one of his paintings. Well, he best be moving right along and quit staring at me through this window because I’m working. And it’s my first week here. I’m lucky to have a job at all with this great depression happening up in here. If I have to eat Boot Soup for dinner one more time I will freakin’ lose it. I wonder if I can steal this pineapple when I go home tonight? And I don’t know who left these two raw pork chops up here by the window but these bitches are about to go right into my purse. Oh, God I hate that cashier. What’s her name? Betty? Margaret? Fuck if I know, but she thinks her shit don’t stink. Well, I got something to tell her: her shit does stink and it smells like great Depression. Hello? It’s 19 fuckin’30 and she’s lucky her ass ain’t livin’ in a fucking Hooverville or a shanty town. I don’t know why she can’t smile at me once in a while. If she doesn’t stop throwing attitude my way, I’m gonna tell the boss I saw her steal a dime out of the register and she can see how she likes being on a bread line instead of at a nice cushy ass job. Oh wait, did I ever take that woman her extra ketchup? Yes, I did, didn’t I? Right? Fuck, I can’t remember. Whatever. It’s ketchup, she’ll get over it. She’s had enough ketchup. What she doesn’t eat, I can take home and mix with some hot water and a piece of tire to make tomato soup. Hello? It’s the Great Depression up in here! And why does she have to rub it in that she has all this money with her fancy coat that she hangs on the wall for everyone to see? Lady, you wanna know what my coat is? A potato sack that I found by the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, my coat is a potato sack. I’m poor. It’s The goddamn freakin’ Great Depression. Oh, there goes Edward Hopper walking by again. He smiled at me that time. Hmmm, maybe I could pose for him some day? He doesn’t pay his models but it would be nice to feel important for a few minutes. Who am I kidding? I’m just a waitress lucky to have this job. Who will ever remember me? He probably doesn’t want me to model anyway. Oh, well. Nice to dream about it I guess. It certainly does help pass the time. Imagine. Me in a painting? Who’d ever buy it? I better go get that lady her ketchup…


11 thoughts on “If I Was a Work of Art

  1. Colleen

    Brilliant. You should write a book…or at least compile your blog posts into a book. I bet it would sell. Maybe enough that you could quit one of your jobs and spend more time poolside sipping Mai Tai’s! And I was just at the MET a few weeks ago and I dont even remember SEEING an Edward Hopper section. That place is freakin huge. We were there all day, didnt leave until they pretty much made us and STILL didnt get to it all. I hadnt been there since I was a kid and its still as big to me at 40 as it was as 10! Oh well…good excuse to take another vacation to NYC! Maybe next time I’ll get you as my waiter one night!

  2. Guy

    My late uncle, an art history professor, told me that he always introduced Hopper's "Nighthawks" to his students telling them it reminded him of me. He thought it was a sad painting. We were sitting in a diner at the time and I had just revealed to him how comfortable I felt in that environment – it was where I felt most at home – and that "Nighthawks" happened to be my favorite painting. To me, it was not sad at all, but a depiction of refuge. "Table for Ladies" doesn't feel sad to me, either, but I begin to wonder if maybe I just don't have a very clear idea of "happiness." Maybe what I'm seeing in Hopper's work is "familiar" and not really happiness or safety in the way most people interpret those things.


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