Mentioned in one of my public bios is one of my many *facepalm* moments. I can’t deny you the full story, but know the embarrassment remains…
Several years ago I had taken my sister on a trip to NYC to celebrate her birthday. After we arrived, she turned around and surprised me with a trip to the MET to view my all-time favorite Monet painting BRIDGE OVER A POOL OF WATERLILIES.
Man, it was spectacular in person. A Japanese bridge in a spring with a water lilies stretched out underneath. The pastel colors and dabbed brushstrokes were mesmerizing, the style of Monet’s hand speaking over the span of time and distance.
I was desperate for a picture.
In the name of packing light, and unbeknownst to me that we were going to be visiting my favorite work of art, I’d brought my bum-around camera, the point-and-shoot having one button to control all its functions, which included disabling the flash.
(If you see where this is going start cringing now.)
A little ART 101: paintings that are over a century old are crafted using far more organic materials than what’s available today, so exposing a classic oil painting to bright light has an eroding affect. One synthetic burst of light can take days off the lifespan of the art.
I knew this. And yet I had to find some way to control the camera.
I stood there struggling with the single-button. Checking and re-checking that the little lightning bolt icon had a circled slash over it, meaning that the stupid flash was turned off. One minute I’d see that it had the slash, the next the lightning bolt was back.
This went on for five minutes. Driving. Me. Crazy.
Going through the de-flash steps again the circle-slash finally stayed, assuring me that I’d nixed the response. I’d put the thing through so much scrutiny by then, the only remaining test was to actually take the picture.
I pointed the camera at the masterpiece a depressed the shutter…
And the damn thing lit up the whole room.
Tears welled as people around the room stopped to stare at me. As the guard stationed at the door started my direction, I handed over the camera as if surrendering a discharged gun.
My freak-out lasted as I kept mumbling, “I flashed a Monet – Ohmygod!”
Opening his mouth the guard closed it again as he waited for my panic attack to subside. After several minutes of my chatter he finally said my sister, “When she’s done hyperventilating, tell her not to do it again.”
And so here it is – the priceless piece of art I slighted.
To this day I can’t think of it without chest pains.
Please don’t judge me.