Sometimes the approving looks of strangers as they gaze upon my cute-as-custard daughter dissolve into a vaguely uneasy grimace, followed by a speedy retreat.
Actually, that happens kind of a lot.
We went to an art museum this weekend, first time in a year. (In early days we used to be followed around by security guards as if we were teenagers with big purses at Nordstrom’s. Fern likes to touch the art, you see.)
The exhibition we were ostensibly shooting for was the Cartier in America (yawn!), but I made a beeline for a room I knew she’d really like:
Mummies come up a lot. Just last week Fern was telling us how she’d already knew the story of Easter — from that Scooby-Doo episode where the mummy arises from the dead.
She’s such an adorable blasphemer!
So there we are in the mummy room, and Fern is just fascinated. They’ve done all this internal imaging on one particular mummy. Fern is calling out body parts on the video as she sees them — “Ribs! Skull! Coccyx!” — and checking out the one open coffin with a thirsty look.
“Can I touch it?” she asks as a few nearby museum-goers back up a little and I silently thank the inventor of Lucite boxes for making that impossible.
Fern is oddly interested in death — she wasn’t even three when she made me stop to examine a roadkill skunk (don’t tell my wife), and of course I’ve mentioned about how she worries about that Funky White Boy playing until he dies.
We had to hustle to get to the crowded jewelry exhibit, but Fern nonetheless managed to pull us off to examine a few of the pictures on the way — inevitably she’d want to see crucifixions, or Lucretia stabbing herself, or someone holding up a severed head.
Again and again, older well-dressed ladies would smile at the cute four-year old peering up at the oil paintings. Then she’d ask about the blood and gore, and they’d perceptibly shudder and move away.
For some reason, I take it as a badge of honor that my daughter can scare off patrons of the arts.
Maybe we’ll have to head to more museums soon.