Pushing your ordinary, everyday shopping cart in behind me at your ordinary, every day supermarket came, apparently, a world famous artist. Although I never saw this man before and had no idea who he was, I knew in an instant he was an artist. For all I know, he could have been a world famous artist, but what I saw was a world famous caricature of an artist.
White pants and a black Hawaiian shirt printed with pictures of a wood panel surf car hung on a short squat frame that indicated he was not the starving kind of world famous artist. He had a long scraggly brown beard that came to a sharp point just above his chest. His eyes were covered by large brown-framed glasses and the whole image was perfected with a white fedora sitting low on his brow. The only thing I didn’t know was what medium this world famous artist played in…but he did not keep that a secret for very long.
“You are a very pretty girl,” he matter-of-factually said to the cashier. And, in this point, he wasn’t lying. She had dark hair that was cast to one side of her head, partially covering her pale, but slightly freckled complexion. Her ice blue eyes seemed to contradict the warm smile that welcomed a smile back. It only took a glance to realize that she too may have been a stereotype of a pretty, hardworking, small town girl just biding her time at a register in an ordinary, everyday supermarket until she could make it big in whatever it was that was her passion.
She smiled sheepishly, dismissing his compliment by focusing on processing my payment. “Yep, you are a beautiful girl and that is coming from a world famous artist, so you know that is fact.” It would be a sweet sentiment if it was indeed a sentiment about her, meant to bring attention to her, instead of a creepy, self serving sentiment meant to bring attention to himself.
You could almost hear the cashier shift gears as she glanced into his cart to determine how long she might have to endure him and how to best handle him…This wasn’t her first encounter with a world famous artist. “Oh really,” she uttered in the same tone of voice I use when my sons start to tell me about a certain yellow cartoon sponge that lives under the sea.
“Yep,” he said, “George William Artiste, World Famous Artist. George William Artiste, painter.” (Name withheld to protect the desperate.)
“Oh wow,” she said with confidence, almost mocking. He continued to repeat who he was as she turned to me to collect my signature on the credit card receipt. I signed, handed it back to her. I looked her in the eyes and gave her a knowing, I-am-so-sorry-for-you smile and said thank you. She seemed to understand my smile and returned the thank you. I told her to have a nice night and walked away as I heard him continue to repeat who he was.
I could only wonder if a world famous artist really needed to remind people that he was a world famous artist.