What Art Did For Hank

Penelope and Hank came from two different worlds. Penelope from a world of beauty, grace, and affluence. Hank from grease, mud, and manure. Their worlds were never going to meet, but they created their own little planet in a special corner of the cosmos.

“I don’t like art,” Hank said all the way to the gallery. “It’s full of weirdos and people who aren’t who they are and if that is who they are, I want no part of ‘em.”

“I spent two weeks birthing calves, stacking hay, and shoveling smelly stuff all for you,” Penelope said.

“And that’s the only reason I’m here with you today,” Hank said. “Two weeks on the farm is only worth an hour here.”

Penelope looked over her glasses at Hank and squinted one eye.

“Hmm, the evil eye; two hours,” Hank said. “I said two, right?”

They meandered along the hung paintings. Penelope stopped to study and give thought. Hank tugged at his collar.

“I’m sorry, Penelope,” Hank said. “Now just look at that, it’s a tennis shoe. It ain‘t art.”

“Yes,” Penelope said. “Anyone can see it‘s a tennis shoe, but what else do you see.”

“It’s old and worn-out,” Hank said.

“Is that it?” Penelope said.

“It’s got ta smell,” Hank said. “You can almost smell it.”

“Yes me too,” Penelope said.

“Looks to me like the guy must have been a guard,” Hank said.

“How so?” Penelope said.

“I can tell by the way the toe is worn,” Hank said. “I played ball with this guy who wore his toes the same way. You could line up all his old shoes and they looked as if they were made that way purposely.”

“Didn’t you have shoes like that when we met?” Penelope said.

“Those were the most comfortable shoes I ever had,” Hank said. “That shoe looks comfortable.” Hank pointed. “Look there, Penelope, look at how the laces are broken and tied back together. That’s detail. He even has one strand not making it through the loop.”

Penelope smiled.

“A pair of shoes like that is…” Hank hesitated. “A work of art.”

“How does it make you feel?” Penelope said.

“Relaxed and calm,” Hank said. “You get that way with an old pair of shoes. They’re like old friends.”

“There is the artist would you like to talk to him?” Penelope said pointing to a short, bearded thin man in his late twenties walking along his paintings and taking compliments from other visitors.

“Hey, buddy,” Hank said. “I sure like that tennis shoe.”

“Thank you,” the artist said.

Hank caught sight of the artist’s shoes. “That’s your shoe!” Hank said. “You’re a point guard.”

“Good observation,” the artist said. “You could tell from the shoe?”

“The way it showed it’s wear on the toe,” Hank said.

“I never knew that,” the artist said.

“That’s okay,” Hank said. “You got to have an eye for that sort of thing.”

An hour later Penelope and Hank left the gallery. Tucked under his arm a wrapped painting purchased for $900. It was called “Tennis shoe,” but Hank hung it in his bathroom and called it “Relax.”

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