Free cocktails and art? Sounds like a great way to pregame for a Friday night.
My roommate and I drove up the dark curvy road that leads us to the Cincinnati Art Museum for their Halloween installment of Art After Dark. A few happenin’ curators decided to create the recurring event, which is held Friday evenings where the museum stays open until 9 pm—giving artsy people a chance to get tipsy while talking about the brush strokes of Bosch and whatnot.
Unfortunately my afternoon cat nap that mid-October afternoon went into overtime, which led us to only have half an hour to wreak havoc on this lovely soirée.
We rolled up into the museum parking lot at 8:30 pm; a bored, but rather friendly parking attendant greeted us through the booth window. We waved, and the attendant then gave my art-partner-in-crime and me a puzzled look. I guess he wanted more than a wave hello.
My roommate’s car window was busted, meaning it didn’t roll down—meaning, I had to climb to the driver’s side backseat to speak with this young lad in the booth.
I fumble across empty coffee cups and magazines to the backseat window; my dark hair is now disheveled and fallen into my face like a dark brown curtain. I roll down the window, looking like Cousin It in a blue-velvet blazer peeking out of a Lexus in dim parking lot lighting.
“Sorry dude, we don’t have a front window,” I say through tuffs of hair blanketing my face.
The attendant stifles a giggle, “It’s okay, I’ve seen worse…but uh, we close soon. Are you sure you want to pay $4?”
“Isn’t this free?” I retort before the attendant can finish the last syllable in “dollar.”
“Parking is $4. Doesn’t matter what time it is. Sorry.”
He hands me a ticket after a moment of confusion— we were trying to line me in the backseat window up to the parking ticket booth, and then we hustle into a parking space. $4 for 30 minutes means we’d have to milk as much of this museum as we can.
There were no more cocktails. As a matter of fact, many of the people were walking out the large wooden doors as we were running to get in.
Among the crowd that had gulped down their last drop of sample-sized cocktails, I noticed quite a few dressed in their Sunday best—flapper style. Black tassels swung at the knees on dresses on a few middle-aged women. A couple men sported port-pie hats.
After taking pictures of mannequins wearing 1920s fashions when weren’t supposed to, listening to scholarly art teachers banter over the Harlem Renaissance, and avoiding the elderly security guards so we could be the last ones in the building—a petite grey-haired woman with pursed lips kicked us out while we were looking at a mummy coffin.
We hopped in the car with the busted window and rolled back up to our buddy, the parking attendant. He asked for our receipt for the paid parking ticket, and we have him a pouty face. Somewhere among the 1920s sequins, Egyptian jewels and Japanese sculpted jade, lies a $4 parking ticket yet to be paid.
By Sidney Cherie Hilley