Nude Awakenings at the Met by Jennifer Anthony

7 September 2008

Since Graciela had broken up with Rickey, she was trying her best to fill up any time not consumed by work by doing all the things she had never had time for in a relationship. Last weekend, she had rallied her friends into going to see a performance by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and this week she talked them into doing a scavenger hunt at the Met.
      This time, it was Allison, not Roxie, who had dug her heels in. “Oh, I am just no good at that sort of thing,” she objected. “I had to do one of those terrible hunts at a bachelorette party. I thought it would be fun – everyone would get tipsy – but instead everyone got so competitive.”
      Graciela explained that this was not a typical scavenger hunt. “It’s the Naked at the Met Scavenger Hunt. You don’t search for things – you just search for answers to quirky, fun questions. The five of us will be our own team. No pressure.”
      Noelle was all for the plan. “Ah, mon amie. You couldn’t have picked better timing. My play opens next week and I’m a jangle of nerves. I could use some fun.”
      Roxie was filled with contrition and ready to agree to anything to account for her bitchiness the week before. “Sounds great!” she cried.
      And so it was that on a warm Saturday late afternoon, the five women found themselves romping through the Met, ogling nudes and answering clues. Roxie and Kyoko immediately established themselves as the leaders of the group, while Graciela, Allison, and Noelle were content to mosey along as easily distracted followers.
      Roxie only lost sight of her contrition once, when she found Allison and Graciela chatting on a bench.
      “I’d never even heard of the word codpiece,” Allison was saying.
      Graciela waved a dismissive hand. “Eh! This is nothing. You should have seen this museum called El Museo del Oro I visited in Lima. I’ve never seen such a phallic collection –”
      “Come on you guys!” Roxie snipped. “We could win this!”
      Two hours later, they left the museum smugly touting their first place prize tee-shirts, thanks, in large part, to their focused team captains.  
      Graciela made dinner reservations at Caffe Grazie  – just a couple blocks away from the Met and barely enough walking time for the team leaders to brag about their accomplishments.
      “I mean, really, why did those other teams even show up?” Kyoko said, with a laugh.
      “They were pathetic,” Roxie said.
      “Okay, ladies, remember this wasn’t supposed to be competitive,” Allison said.
      When they reached the restaurant, they were seated upstairs beneath a painting of a man and woman who looked drunk but had managed to keep their clothes on. “I miss the nudes,” Roxie said.
      “Looks like I’ll have to order the Filet of Sole Francese,” Noelle said, snapping her menu closed.
      “Linguini Amalfi for me,” Kyoko said.
      “After today’s event?” Graciela asked. “How could you order anything but the Orecchiette Lombardi? Listen to the description: ‘hot and sweet Italian sausage.’”
      Kyoko took a swig of her water, crunched down an ice cube, and retorted, “You forget that I am both a vegetarian and a lesbian, and therefore have little interest in sausages.”
      “Touché,” Graciela said. “And I have too much interest, I guess. I can’t stop thinking about that Adonis. You know that he got to spend the winter with Persephone and the summer with Aphrodite? I’d like that kind of arrangement.”
      “You mean, sharing a man with another woman?” Allison said, nearly choking on her swallow of bread.
      “Dios mío, no,” Graciela said. “I’d like to have his situation – one person for the summer and another for the winter.”
      “Is Rickey summer or winter? Or is he even part of the plan?” Roxie asked.
      “And what about fall and spring?” Allison added, with a frown.
      “Whoa. Easy, puritans,” Noelle said. “I think it sounds like a fantastic idea. Just different.”
      “Thank you, Noelle,” Graciela said, shooting a sour look at her more judgmental friends. “I thought it was a fabulous idea, too – one that apparently goes back for thousands of years.”
      “That was a myth,” Roxie said. “Also mythical is the idea that Rickey would go for this plan.”
      “But I doubt he – or any other guy – would say no to the Adonis arrangement for himself,” Kyoko argued.
      Graciela shook her head. “A lot of men would – but not Rickey. He’s truly a romantic.”
      “But isn’t that what you want?” Allison asked.
      “That’s what you want,” Graciela corrected. “I’ve realized something about myself. I really have no desire for commitment.”
      “You could see a therapist –” Allison said.
      “Or not,” Graciela said. “Does it automatically mean I’m nuts because I don’t want to mate for life?”
      Her friends considered this question. Allison’s furrowed brow gave away her unspoken answer, but the other three looked vexed and unsure.
      “Let me rephrase that in the form of a statement,” Graciela said. She waited a beat as the waitress returned with their plates. She pierced a steaming bit of sausage with her fork, and added, “My choice to not get married is a perfectly sane one.”

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