Everybody’s a Critic

May 9, 2014

southside2It was such a nice night at Southside Gallery back in the early 2000s. I had only been “out” for a few months. My dear friend, Milly (owner of this fine establishment) was hosting another grand reception for a Cuban photographer whose exhibit just opened. The wine was flowing (mostly down my throat), the live jazz was playing, and everybody was having a good time. And then you showed up, a writer for The Daily Mississippian.

Milly was too busy playing hostess so she asked if I wouldn’t mind giving you a tour and provide commentary on the photographer’s work, after all, you were just a student reporter. Always happy to oblige, I escorted you through the crowded event, sharing insight into the photographer’s vision and story behind some of the snapshots.

We came upon one particular photo of which I was not a fan. It was a black and white overhead shot of Fidel standing on a balcony addressing a tight crowd below. It was busy and unoriginal, so I gave it a dismissive wave and said, “And that one looks like Where’s Waldo,” before moving on.

When my semi-inebriated brain finally processed the words that spilled from my mouth, I stopped, turned to you, stared you dead into your dark, soulless eyes and said, “Don’t you dare print that,” as I pointed my unsteady finger in your face. And then I continued on as if nothing happened.

A few days later, I received a phone call from one of the gallery’s staff. When I answered the phone, all I heard was laughter. When she finally composed herself, she informed me that you indeed quoted me. Verbatim. This wouldn’t be so bad, but you assigned my full name to those words.

If I knew how to find you, I would have paid you a little visit so that I could have implanted a suppository of that tiny tape recorder you used to capture that phrase so far up your ass that you would have choked on it. However, I had better things to do. Nowadays, I take pleasure in imagining that you’re a struggling reporter working for some piece-of-shit paper like The National Enquirer. But you did teach me something: never, ever trust a reporter.