The Renoir Exhibit

illustration by Kate Sullivan

by Kate Sullivan

Date: June 16 2PM

To: Boston Parking Commission

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you regarding my appeal of a ticket I received three days ago on June 13, and not that I am really all that involved in astrology, I was aware (as was, I’m assuming, the officer in charge of ticketing automobiles on Museum Road that day) that it might be an unlucky day, although I couldn’t believe my good fortune at finding a spot right near the MFA at approximately 5:10 PM on Friday the 13th!  So odd, because I never come into Boston on a Friday afternoon but it was the last day of the Renoir (as you may or may not know, he was born under Pisces, so it figures he was multi-talented, with deep sensitivity and a delicate, artistic temperament) exhibit which I hadn’t had the opportunity to see yet, and being a lover of French and the Impressionists, I just had to get there.

I’m sure, as the parking clerk, you perhaps have not had time to develop your creative talents but don’t forget, everyone is talented in their own way! But I wish to express myself as succinctly as possible as I am certain you must be a very busy man (or woman!)! You see, I did not realize that the Red Sox were in town that night, as it turns out, playing the Baltimore Orioles — such a pretty (vibrant!) orange bird, although I’ve never really been much of a birder, nor a lover of any kind of animal really, sticking more to the musical arts, probably starting with the cigar box banjo my dear‘Pappy’ made me so long ago (!) when he came to visit from ‘The South.’ None of us ever knew, really, where exactly he lived in ‘The South,’ and I guess nobody ever asked him, which seems a little strange now, but if nothing else, families can be quite odd!

And speaking of odd, I must say that it took me several days to find out about your ticket because I had actually stolen the car that I parked by the museum that evening. Well, I’m not really being fair to myself to say stolen. I just borrowed the car from my next door neighbor, who never uses it anyway. She leaves the keys under the mat and I figured I could get it back before she ever noticed it was gone. Mine, you see, was in the shop for repairs after I rammed the big elm tree at the foot of my driveway. At my age you sometimes can’t turn around to see where you’re backing up and it (the tree) loomed up so quickly I panicked and hit the gas, instead of the brake. But I would imagine you know a lot more about how troublesome cars can be, especially when it comes to parking and I so wish I could have caught the meter maid (or boy(?)) as she was writing out the ticket on my neighbor’s car, although I’ve had that experience many times when you run up, just as the meter person is writing out your ticket and you holler, ‘No! Please don’t! I’ll move the car right away.’ But by then, you’re too late. They always say they can’t stop because they already wrote it down, with a carbon copy and all, but it CAN be frustrating as I’m sure you can understand, although I think one can be more sympathetic to frustration if one has tried one’s hand at something on the creative side (which perhaps you haven’t), because it can be very humbling and frustrating, to say the least! I know I did find my leap from the cigar box banjo to the harp particularly challenging, especially trying to figure out all those pedals! (I’m just now realizing that the harp in the back seat, which blocked my view, probably contributed to my crashing into the elm!) At least with a car, all you have are two, although I do find I get them mixed up more and more these days! I am quite a bit older than I used to be!

I didn’t even know I’d gotten a ticket until my neighbor came over, flapping the orange ticket in my face, wanting to know if I knew anything about it. I was thinking perhaps I could say no, but she also had my pocketbook, which I had left in the front seat (I had been trying to find that for hours!), so there was nothing to be done. I do wonder how I drove all the way home from Boston without noticing the ticket under the windshield wiper (and to think I almost turned them on to clean off the big blob of bird poop some filthy pigeon from The Fens must have dropped there; as I said, I’m really not a big fan of birds!). I guess I was just preoccupied with the dreamy quality of Renoir’s paintings, especially the glorious Luncheon of the Boating Party – all those happy young people with their straw hats and bottles of wine and festive glasses everywhere. I have to say, there is nothing like a full-bodied cab! I really should have taken a cab I suppose, but I prefer the independence of driving on my own. And had I taken a cab, I couldn’t have taken advantage of the lucky parking space I found! And I probably should have invited my neighbor to join me, but I don’t really care for her that much. She’s a Taurus, you know. They can be pretty bull-headed, which is where the name came from, whereas I am a Gemini (today is my birthday!) and so I just told her to calm down, that I would take care of the ticket. I had no idea (and I never saw any sign posted) that on Friday nights, when the Red Sox are playing, there’s no parking near the Museum of Fine Arts, which is, in effect, a parking stipulation that puts more value on sports than on fine art. This should be against the law. I will be writing a similar curt letter to the attorney general, spelling out the above arguments.

Most sincerely,


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