I finally had the nerve. I called the Francis Gallery where I hoped to show my watercolors.
After several rings, a man answered. The voice was laconic and bored. “Mr. Francis speeeeeking.”
“Hello ……… My name is Sylvia Saltwater ……….. and I’d like to show you my portfolio.”
A sigh followed by silence.
“Hello? Are you there?” I asked.
“My dearrrrrrr woman. Do you know how many calls like this I get a week?”
I gulped. “No.”
I forged ahead. “I appreciate that but I still want to know if I could show my portfolio. I think you might find my work interesting.”
Another pause. A sniff. “What type of work do you do?”
“I paint watercolor gardenscapes.”
A low guffaw. “Rather ordinary.”
I prickled. “How do you know if you haven’t seen them yet?”
Another long, long pause. Another sigh. “If you mussssssst show me, I can interview on Tuesday at 10:00 in the morrrrrrning.”
The depth of his ennui was obvious.
“I’ll be there. Thank you.”
A click on the other side.
On the morning of the interview, I decided to dress in a simple light green blouse and periwinkle pants. I tucked the purple portfolio under my arm and looked in the full-length mirror – colorful yet stylish.
When I arrived at the gallery, I rang the bell and saw Mr. Francis walking slowly to the door leaning heavily on a silver-handled cane. He was tall, slender with snow-white hair neatly coiffed. He was as starched as his shirt and somewhere between 80 and death.
A little sweat broke out on my forehead.
He clicked several bolts and opened the door.
“Sylvia Saltwater, I presume?” he said, unsmiling. He has an unfortunate habit of not looking into your eyes but looking two inches above your head as if he’s looking at someone standing behind you.
“Mr. Francis, it’s a pleasure to see you.”
“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” he said. “Come in if you must. Let’s begin.”
He waved me to a table.
I put my portfolio on it. He sat down heavily on the only chair. I stood waiting to be judged.
Diamond rings adorned the fingers that flipped through my paintings. Then the hand dropped, palm up, in a dead faint. Silent minutes passed like hours.
“Welllllllllllll,” he finally breathed out. I was beginning to feel this was not an interview for my watercolors but rather a trial justifying my worth as a human being.
I was beginning to feel this was not an interview for my watercolors but rather a trial justifying my worth as a human being.
“This drains me but leave your portfolio and let’s see what I can glean.” He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “There’s a charming, charming young man who sculpts the most marrrrrrvelous insects with string and nails …. maybe I can squeeze you in ……… Let me work my mind around it. I need time to think this through.”
“Thank you, Mr. Francis,” I said, feeling perspiration running down my neck.
“I’ll get back to you,” he said rising slowly and, making a sweeping gesture of dismissal, pointed to the door.
I felt like I should walk to the door backwards, bowing all the way. Now comes the waiting. Will I be beheaded or will I be knighted???