‘Jan laughed without mirth. Like most gallerists, he depended on artists without entirely approving of them. They were childish. They had food fights at nice restaurants, at which times he was forced to reprimand them. Jan always felt overdressed in their company. At the same time he was a fine judge of talent and possessed the organizational competence necessary to the business of art. That evening, when the artists got drunkenly up to dance, Jan heaved his bulk out of his chair and wandered into the library.
Ten minutes later he came rushing out.
“Miles, what are these drawings?”
Wormington didn’t know what to say.
“Do you think?”
“This is a big departure for you.”
Wormington looked at the open book van der Pluijm was holding. On page 132 of something called “The Quest for Love,” a naked woman (Asiatic by the dashes of her eyes) lay against the grain of the print, holding in one hand the bent stalk of a penis. Was it really? Wormington squinted. There was a tensile quality to the drawing, suggesting that for a long time the artist hadn’t known what it was going to be. And then suddenly he had known. The discovery of its subject was its subject. Part of the page was blacked out. Looking harder, Wormington saw the words “John Lennon” submerged in this darkened area. So the naked woman was Yoko then. And that was Lennon’s penis she was holding. And those were Lennon’s balls.
“Yes, it is different,” Wormington said. “For me.” He scanned the text for an explanation of the drawing’s content, but other than a mention of “the English” and something about “two-second spasms” there was nothing definite. Wormington’s head felt fuzzy.
“I am thinking we make a show of these drawings. We hang the books up in the gallery. Or do you think we cut the pages out and frame them?”
Wormington’s eyes were playful as he considered this. But his voice remained serious. “My conception,” he said and hesitated. “The idea I had, originally, was to cut the pages out.” He was enjoying himself now. “I like the idea of them being disembodied.”
“Disembodied. Good. So we cut them out. That will make it easier for the sales, too.”
“Will it? Sales?”
“Yeah, sure. I have an opening at the gallery in a month. We do the show then.”
Wormington, still drunkenly extemporizing, impersonating someone he had never met, accepted. It didn’t seem as though this were really happening. On the other hand, if it were happening, he needed the money. And, besides, who would ever know?
Jeffrey Eugenides, born 1960 The Mad Library: A Fable, 2004
An excerpt from a short story published in the catalogue ‘PISSING INK, produced for Mathew Hale’s solo exhibition, ‘DIE STADT . LA CITTA’ . THE MOTHER’, at DAAD, Berlin.
Publisher: DAAD Galerie Berlin (Hg./Ed.), 2004; 116 pages, with text in English by Jeffrey Eugenides, Jordan Kantor, Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings, MoMA, New York, and an afterword by Friedrich Meschede. ISBN: 3-89357-110-8 PiSsInG InK: 80 Pages, Mathew Hale from Miriam Books