FIRE AS ART

Some very creative person asked a wide range of people what they would rush to save if their houses were to catch on fire. This in itself is an interesting question. But then, the creative person actually persuaded the askees to assemble the stuff they wanted to save, and the creative person took pictures of each person’s stuff and turned the whole thing into an art installation. I was fascinated. Then I realized that my stuff would never have made it into the art installation.

What most of the people included in their assemblages of stuff were photos. I would include those, too. So far, I am just like those people. So far, so good. But I differ from those people in a few major ways:

Perhaps the askees were all young, because almost every single one of them had a tweedy/corduroyish blazer that they would risk their lives to save. They looked very nice in the photographs. I, on the other hand, assign absolutely no value to any of the stuff in my closet. A lot of it doesn’t even fit any more. Some things are ripped. In the back of my closet is one thing that I have kept over the years. It’s the nightie that I took with me on my honeymoon. Size zero. But I would never dive in there, coughing smoke, to save it. I should have donated it to Goodwill years ago. If my daughters saw it, I would be mortified. Let it burn!

Shoes were in a lot of the pictures. Again, I wonder who these people are that they would find it important to rescue their Uggs or Doc Martens. Young people and their wardrobes! I think I could make it out of the house quickly in my Dearfoams, never giving a second thought to the new, black patent leather Danskos I just got. They are quite exciting, but not worth risking my life for.

Some of the pictures in the installation had journals or diaries. Really, just how self-centered are these people? Frankly, I can think of a whole lot of things that I would rather save from an inferno than the journal I kept the years I was in college. I don’t think I would even want to recover some of those memories! That graduate student I was so infatuated with probably ended up in rehab.

Some of the askees felt very strongly about their iPhones and other technological devices. I guess I can understand that. You need those things to call 911. And they are small, so carrying those out of the house is a no-brainer. But iPads? These people need to have an iPad? So they can download a movie while waiting for the fire engines?

Here is what I would want to save. Not particularly photogenic. My medications. I can’t go a day without those. My glasses–I am blind without them. The picture of my kids that is on my nightstand. My husband. He isn’t that handsome, but he can fix just about anything, and it would get pretty lonely around here without him. Just dragging him out the door in the middle of the night, groggy and stumbling, would take all my energy. And I am sure that as soon as he realized the gravity of the situation, my husband would run, heedless of his own safety, right back into to burning house to save his accordion.

So let’s see. If my picture were a part of the installation, instead of a collage consisting of an attractive arrangement of tweeds, leather bound volumes, wing tips and iPhones in colorful plastic cases, it would be a photograph of a pajama-clad bald man in musical boxer shorts, looking disheveled yet triumphant, clutching an accordion. Standing beside a glasses case, a framed baby photo, and some pill bottles. But wait—that sounds pretty artsy after all!

P.S. I have a book out. It will be widely available on Amazon.com next week. But you can order one right now if you like. I would certainly like that. http://www.createspace.com/3962140

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