Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wealth is Relative

Are you familiar with the business of rabbit hunting? In particular the notion that rabbits in flight tend to run in a big circle? And that the strategy, once the bunny is flushed, is to turn 180 degrees, shoulder your rifle, and wait for the damned thing to come around? And that the only thing left to do is to make sure you shoot the rabbit and not the dog?

Then, mmmmm, good eating. Me? I love rabbit stew.

Now imagine that you are a poor painter (Forget about the rabbit stew and focus on the task at hand). Poor in the financial sense. And that you are at the gym (I don't belong to a gym, by the way, but in the perfect world that is this hypothetical scenario, the gym in question might be the Equinox in the West Village). You're on the treadmill (and you're thinking to yourself "Didn't I become a painter so I could get off the treadmill?") and an extremely attractive woman starts walking on the machine next to yours.

Because you're an intrepid soul you strike up a conversation. And, after a bit of this-ing and that-ing, you ask her what she does for a living. She says "I'm an expensive prostitute." You tuck this away and continue with the conversation, focusing on your somewhat delusional optimism about the upcoming Knicks season, knowing that beautiful women like nothing better than talking about the Knicks.

Finally you say "Hey, listen. I haven't sold a painting in a while, so I'm dirt poor, but I'd give anything to sleep with you" and she says "How much do you have?" and you say "A buck-fifty" and she says "You seem like a nice person. Handsome in a somewhat older version of Daniel Craig without the cheesy mustache he's wearing on Broadway kind of a way. I'll do it."

Obviously this doesn't happen in real life. It's a metaphor.
Or, perhaps, more like a dream.
But in a dream, wouldn't she have offered to pay for the hotel?
Perhaps the Four Seasons?
I love the turn-down service with the chocolates.
Yeah. Me too.
And the basket of fruit and Champagne that the manager sends up.
But of course none of this ever happens, right?
Actually it does happen in real life. Except, as it turns out, I'm the hooker.

More specifically, I was recently approached, via email, by a women who I'd met at a news shoot a couple of months ago. The conversation went something like her saying "Hey, listen. I'm just a news producer and I know you charge a ton of money for a painting but I'd really love it if you'd paint a portrait of my Grandfather for his birthday at a steep discount" and me saying "How much do you have?" and her saying a number that is not only a tenth of my going rate but is also five times what I spent for my first car (the juxtaposition of which reminds me of when my friend Dave wrote "Wealth is relative" on my American Investor painting) and me saying "You seem like a nice person and I like the picture you sent me. Grampa's handsome in a kind of older version of John Denver, before he slammed his lightweight plane into the side of a mountain, kind of a way. I'll do it."

Then she starts rattling on about the Knicks until I tell her that she can drop her slightly modified version of the parallel structure. At which point she tells me straight-up that not only are the Knicks not going to make the playoffs but that I can stop holding my breath about LeBron James coming. 'Cause he ain't.

Wow. I was feeling so positive. Nonetheless, a deal is a deal. So now I'm painting Grandpa.


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