So you're at a bar and a guy invites you to come over to his apartment to "see his father's prints." How far removed from "Why don't you come upstairs and see my etchings?" is that really?
Turns out it was completely on the up and up, thereby disproving all my suspicious-natured friends who consider me naive about other people's (read:guys) intentions.
He lives on Riverside Drive, so the view out his living room is panoramic. There's the skyline, the park and trails, and the river spread out below. Admiring all that through an open window on the last day of 2009 alone would have been worth it.
Competing for my attention was his very sweet beagle/basset hound mix, who gave me those beagle eyes with which I used to be so familiar. She seemed pretty thrilled with my company, constantly coming over to say hello and sniff another of my body parts.
On his turntable, he was playing vintage country music from the 40s and 50s, so distanced from what is now considered country music as to be laughable. And when is hearing a record not infinitely preferable to a digital listen? Heartbreak, unrequited love and even a song about a dog's death never sounded so good.
And my host had taken the liberty of making lunch, something I hadn't expected. We had a tomato/black bean/chickpea soup, a pasta salad with mozzarella, roasted red pepper and basil and a spicy hummus with freshly-made pita crisps. Wow, come for art and get fed. How nice is that?
My friend's dad was artistically active in the 70s and 80s; in fact, in the early 70s, he was one of only three people in the country teaching woodblock printmaking at the university level. His dad kept one of his printing presses in my friend's childhood room and he remembered there always being wood shavings on his bedroom floor growing up.
Occupying a wall in my friend's dining room was an enormous flat file and from it he pulled limited edition prints, books and posters for me to see.
It was obvious his dad had a deft touch with not just printmaking, but lettering and color. Stylistically, he owed a fair amount to the German Expressionists.
There were prints illustrating folk tales, interpreting the Bible and self-portraits. After a couple of hours touching, looking and discussing only a part of the collection, I had to wonder if my friend ever intended to have some of it hung in a gallery show. He's understandably leaving that decision up to his mother.
Over blueberry/cranberry sorbet, he showed me an oversize book on jazz, complete with large-format black and white photographs of musicians and 78-rpm records in sleeves.
It was a vintage and beautiful compendium on the figures who shaped jazz, shot when they were young and on the rise. My friend said it's out on DVD, but there's no way it could be as impressive that way as this experience was.
So there you have it. No inappropriate suggestions or forward advances, nothing untoward at all. Just a chance to admire art that I would have otherwise died without ever having seen. And that would have been a loss to me.
Sometimes my trusting nature pays off, oh cynical ones.