Living Art

Higher evolved as humans claim themselves, maybe the lower primates, four-legged creatures, and fowl have the whole relationship matrix grasped better. For the most part they answer to instinct. A time of year triggers them to couple, copulate in order to assure continuance of the species, then diverge.

Easier than what Adair endured.

Were he the sort who looked back, who examined his life, Adair would’ve stated he didn’t have an explicit “type” as far women went. He naturally expected to meet a woman with whom he’d wish to establish a life. Thus combined, they would cultivate a family. Afterwards wouldn’t they settle into the same of connubial stasis that moored his parents’ and grandparents’ existences?

The no surprises, nothing new sort that from long-running habits allowed both partners to forecast the other’s moves and moods.

Except Adair and Lorraine, his wife of decades, the mother of their three children, deviated off course. One morning after a lifetime of inseparability, they looked at another and determined the end of their shared road had been reached. If either could’ve spoken plainly, and at this juncture wouldn’t that have been difficult because plain truths are the hardest to express, each would’ve confessed exhaustion with the same partner had led to inertia.

Convoluted as the above is, it’s gentler than admitting whatever affection once binding them had expired. The passion which had melded them simmered into a low flame, which was to have been expected. However, at some point in the later years the fire had been starved of oxygen and extinguished itself. Afterwards the cold embers of their marriage blew away.

Humans aren’t wired to say, “I don’t love you anymore.” Unless the intent is to injure; to inflict maximum pain in the shortest stroke. Then it becomes a country & western song.

Such animus did not exist between Lorraine and Adair. No others came between them. Their fidelity remained intact. She had tired of him; he of her. Nothing more. If anything, both regretted the lack of deeper remorse.

Adair explained this to a stranger.

Not that Lorraine had become dumpy or Adair’s vitality had vanished. In his early 60s, once curly brown hair now gray, he remained fit. Sharing his age bracket, yes, but spared eyesight that required him to wear glasses, Lorraine had acquired matronly aspects buts he was still shapely, still eye-pleasing.

No others distracted either. They hadn’t deviated. Just reached the end of their road.

Digressing somewhat, Adair suddenly confessed he didn’t know how contemporary husbands maintained desirous of their wives. Implicit both men recognized the distinction between affection and attraction; between love and magnetism.

Exaggerating, Adair generalized that after having one child modern mothers resembled sows who’d issued broods. Good for guy-yucks as it was, he then reflected on their own mothers. An easy bridge to cross. He and the stranger were age approximate and shared plenty of Northeastern cross-commonality.

From his boyhood, Adair recalled few new mothers ballooning and staying that way long. All sorts of dieting, exercising, and, um, other methods, went into regaining previous figures rather than tossing out closets full of dresses. And despite mothers transforming dinner tables into troughs with silverware and surrounded by chairs, didn’t their fathers attempt adhering to regimens which thwarted acute Dunlop silhouettes?

He and the stranger sat inside what passed as a neighborhood bar in Las Vegas. Really. No video poker screens stuck up from the planks separating pourer from imbibers.

Rather than swill beer, the pair sipped adult cocktails. Like Adair, his companion had also been a lifelong Northeast resident. Adair and the stranger were immediately simpatico. Both recognized each had plenty on the ball. A claim neither bothered making about many of the long-time locals.

Divorcing Lorraine did not erupt into contention or conflict. While sadness saddled each, both ultimately realized separating the correct course. For flesh and blood creatures, what so astringently resulted between them raised friends’ and relatives’ suspicions.

There ought have been pain. There ought have been agony. Instead the amicable ease through which Adair and Lorraine sundered their union angered those third-parties outside what had been their marriage. Some of the less circumspect even asked whether the pair had ever even been in love.

Neither had intended forsaking the Northeast. But after the receptions casting aspersions upon the whole validity of their prior lives, Lorraine and Adair knew distance the best salve for the doubters and the sole recourse for the accused.

Lorraine set up new residence on the Florida Gold Coast. When she and Adair spoke, because despite everything the children produced still connected them, Lorraine laughingly referred to herself as her new close associates (mostly Northern transplants like herself) did: A Woman Without Strings.

Adair drifted, floated in Nevada initially. Retired, time sat heavily upon him. He didn’t gamble, which made the state even cheaper. And though never a hail fellow, most of the new personalities encountered increased his reticence. The locals lacked spark. Or as the stranger clarified, “They’re dull.”

And as both agreed, life in the Mojave encouraged waistline expansion through sloth and gluttony.

The stranger confessed his now dissolved career frequently had him in and out of the region throughout 35 years before moving to Las Vegas. He found Sin City unique in that given the profusion of cloudless days, too many of its residents failed availing themselves to sun. Splendid as being outdoors often was, a sedentary epidemic seemingly had inflicted widespread obesity on a high percentage of Las Vegans.

In other Southwestern cities, sunshine and warmth had residents out and about stretching their limbs, soaking up rays, and generally exalting in health.

While smart and young Las Vegans took advantage of the Southwest’s climate by vigorously exploiting it, the old succumbed to becoming spavined. It was as if a lot of them voluntarily became elderly before their time. They readily accepted decrepitude.

Their surrender to premature fragility and brittleness shook Adair. Particularly the obese encased and imprisoned in their own suet. For a large subset of them swallowing the self-imposed sentence also demanded damned near immobilization.

Until coming to Las Vegas, Adair never could’ve imagined any byways clogged by motorized scooters. His first week in the Mojave he saw more of the motor scooter-bound than during his entire North Jersey and New York City lifetime.

He noticed that a good number of those riding scooters might’ve been ambulatory had they shed a hundredweight or two. The thin seldom piloted such wheeled seats. More remarkable were emphysema sufferers requiring four wheels.

Air tanks fastened to the scooters’ structure, clear plastic tubes looping from the air supply stuffing nostrils, the afflicted still smoked cigarettes. Adair wondered the points behind prolonging these lives. Apparently the mobile invalids only sought to extend their misery.

The feeble flesh parading past him persuaded Adair to join a fitness club. Along with Lorraine he’d been among an active outdoorsy group. Moreover, back East few local destinations weren’t reachable on foot. Las Vegas did not avail itself in similar manner. Other than ubiquitous nationally known convenience stores, little worthwhile commercially, culturally, or socially offered themselves through walking near his address.

Adair didn’t join the gym intending to use the facility’s secondary purpose as a meat market. Whether knowingly or unconsciously he assumed that the purview of the muscular, strutting, young peacocks who isolated whatever muscle group that particular day. Nonetheless here is where he met Evangeline.

Or as he came around to thinking, there was where she selected him.

Before Lorraine and with her, Adair would’ve considered Evangeline and himself an unlikely pairing. First, the obvious. She was young enough to have been a neighbor’s daughter. He’d never seen himself as one of those arm candy collectors who needed such a fledging to validate, boost, and extend his manhood.

Second, Evangeline didn’t captivate him. A Golden State transplant from the Bay Area, neither did she fit his dream of a “California girl.”

If Adair had a preference as far as women, Lorraine had been it. Unlike Evangeline, Lorraine clearly filled the feminine parameters. His ex-wife had been shapely and curvy. Her limpid blue eyes reflected him. She fussed over her thick black hair, its styling a continual point of pride. A stickler regarding her appearance, would Lorraine have ever left the house without makeup perfectly applied and every stitch in place?

Most importantly, a fact he realized only after they’d started walking divergent paths, Lorraine had subordinated herself to him. Evangeline might mollify a man. But behave in a servile manner? She’d show that fellow her back first.

The top of Lorraine’s head reached his chin. Evangeline stood two or three inches above him.

His initial sight of Evangeline almost left Adair confused. He only assumed she was a woman.

Finding long hair cumbersome to manage, Evangeline cropped her auburn mannishly short. Her attire masked clear signs of a woman’s physique. Evangeline’s shoulders just weren’t broad, they rippled through a lifetime of strenuous activities. Among these, surfing. The same efforts had also reapportioned her upper carriage. Never buxom, a combination of exercise and the diet supporting her exertions lessened the prominence of her bosom.

Where Lorraine had been short of stature, rounded, and soft, Evangeline was long, angled, and hard. Only looking closely at Evangeline, carefully decoding her face, betrayed her gender.

Only outside the gym did Evangeline let her femininity become apparent. There, jangly hoops and bangles dangled off her ears and wrists. Shoes whose heels emphasized her calves and raised her butt augmented a naturally long gait which bounced her behind while further swaying skirt and dress hemlines. Where one might’ve thought Evangeline likely to have preferred rouging her lips in subdued shades, she surprised by engorging those petals through bold hues.

Apart from her casual androgyny, what truly fastened Adair’s attention on Evangeline was the ink swirling across the right side of her torso. Until they entered intimacy, Adair believed profound tattooing limited to her right arm and shoulder.

Naked and exposed after reaching an arrangement which somewhat nettled his conventional sensibilities, a deal she concluded coolly and sensibly, by the way, Adair discovered a good swath of Evangeline served as canvas.

Blooming from her right shoulder blade, elaborate artistry ranged between there and all the dorsal masses below until curving to an end on the bottom of that side’s hemisphere. Adair couldn’t decipher any of the decorative phantasmagoria upon her.

Despite their fairly contractual carnal relations, timidity, okay, timidity and prudence, kept Adair from inquiring why she’d subjected herself to such designs. He saw tattoos as disfiguring. Ugly. He never understood its appeal to people who so marred themselves. The practice disgusted him. Were it permissible without surely fomenting her outrage – and immediately derail them fucking ever again – he’d have asked Evangeline what character void she hoped her skin art filled.

Adair hoped he hadn’t recoiled in dismay upon seeing her expansive ink. If she noticed his horror, maybe she calculated gains against forfeiture. Or accustomed to such receptions, she just cursed him quietly, dismissed his attitude, and kept focused on the prize.

In any case Adair knew better than to ask. He kept his North Jersey yap shut. That was one survival strategy from marriage joining him westward.

A 24 year old, Evangeline had just begun her career path. Despite the low rung, the job paid decently. Meaning her salary covered basics and essentials. Life at that age encompassed so much more than meeting obligatory payments and deferring pleasures.

She sought means through which to acquire the wherewithal necessary to enliven this young and having fun episode of life to its fullest. Adair could’ve asked questions, incisive questions. But suspecting the plain truth and having it confirmed lost its appeal. Instead he preferred being, or at least feeling, flattered.

Male vanity would not allow anything else.

He’d latched upon a much younger, quite intriguing woman, no? Or perhaps in a clarifying moment, that same woman had recognized in him what she required. Properly baited, she lured, and reeled a gleeful fish into her net.

It gladdened Adair the stranger asked the obvious questions needing posing. He could’ve asked them of himself but deceiving others was harder than self-deception.

While Adair had no doubts Evangeline had conducted herself similarly with other gentlemen, he preferred thinking she wasn’t stringing along a number of Adairs. Wouldn’t that have indicated she was the rapacious sort?

Greedy and profligate, the stranger suggested. Adair’s ego would rather have her maintain his individuality. He didn’t see himself on a string.

Neither conversant rushed into the sex. The stranger picked through the lesser nuts and bolts.

Adair’s moralizing of their circumstance tickled Evangeline. Indeed in plain English this most human of interactions could’ve been viewed as grubby. However, she refused seeing them as “grubby people.” Evangeline saw theirs as an “exchange.” What he wanted to soften by terming “gifts” or “presents” she described as “compensation,” not “payment.”

Had there yet been any residue of resentment or shows of phony gratitude after their, uh, exchanges, wondered the stranger. Adair contemplated momentarily. Finally he praised Evangeline.

“Amenable,” Adair stated. “She’s been truly amenable throughout.”

The stranger’s approval of all the sweeting semantics eased several of the minor pangs bothering Adair. Despite the participants being freely informed, unfettered, and unbeholden, sudden whiffs of unsavoriness yet occasionally wrinkled Adair’s nose.

Describing fucking Evangeline, he hoped keeping any roaring effusiveness within the banks. If Adair had ever been the sort who’d emit a Tarzan tell while beating his chest, post-coital with Evangeline should’ve justified them.

Instead Adair was kind.

Sex with Evangeline reminded Adair of incipient years together with Lorraine. The young couple loved hard. They pursued careless, somewhat inconsiderate romps when the urges overtook them. Theirs wasn’t any question of knowing better. That came later when they were calmer and asked whether delivery and reception could satisfy greater.

What the retiree experienced, no, shared with a much younger woman now, he felt though couldn’t have expressed as a young husband with Lorraine. While he brimmed with enthusiasm for those early molten marital bed intercessions with his bride, Adair lacked the presence of capably driving her towards full pleasure while mindlessly, oLorraine, selfishly, deriving his own utmost. Conscientious as he hoped to have been, it only came to Adair later that he could’ve been a more loving partner. Only by being with Evangeline did he see where he ought have been with Lorraine.

Kudos from the stranger. He expected some old fart boasting about throwing his best hardest fuck into some young filly ever, not a brief and gentle disquisition on mutual gratification…

… Living in Las Vegas after a while inures residents to events vacationers and conventioneers might find unusual. Or untoward. Or maybe even ultimately unseemly.

One recent summer small squads of sharp-eyed wranglers scoured the Big Mayberry for quite peculiar subjects. The criterion was specific. Otherwise the selection would’ve been indiscriminate.

Recognizing tattooing had lost its outlaw stigma among mainstream Americans, indeed once prohibitive laws had been legislated out of existence and restrictive health codes relaxed, the photographer Clemmie and New York gallerist Margalit Rendell independently saw how the loosened practice captivated wide swaths of the public. Together the pair conceptualized a visual theme not simply featuring myriad skin art but how the designs individuals carried clashed or meshed when merged.

In either, stories could be discerned and told.

Both women approached their seventh decades with eagerness. Each had banished trepidation. In their own 20s and 30s, the topic would’ve sat beyond them. Or too close to pick it apart.

Margalit elongated her lean 5-foot-3 frame through a ramrod posture. Black hair styled in asymmetrical fashion, her visage more piercing than stern. That she came across as pleasant rather than a shrew disarmed a lot of people anticipating her to ground them down.

Fair-complexioned, fair-haired, and stout, Clemmie would needed to have striven mightily not to appear and behave in a genial manner. However she’d awakened that morning determined her day’s coif. While her partner in this endeavor was a living walking rack for high-end clothing labels, Clemmie settled her more generous portions into distressed, baggy, and clunky anti-couture.

Nonetheless gentle as Clemmie appeared assignments transformed her into a hard-riding taskmaster whose whip and chair were implied
While any large metropolis could’ve offered sufficient samples of raw material for illustration, the two women chose Las Vegas based on its renown as a magnet for the extremely uninhibited and the city’s “What doesn’t happen here?” nature. They expected a feast for their eyes and lenses. They received a surfeit.

Searching for subjects in the Las Vegas summer eased the task immensely. The Mojave broiled by day and by night. That meant much of the population wore as little clothing as possible, if not a few cases of clothing optional. Lack of apparel simplified the hunt.

The wranglers ventured into hipster havens, scouted public pools, parks, as well as flat-out louche venues like dive bars. Even the local one-percenter motorcycle clubhouse got a look-see. The brave and the bold who visited there reported that block must’ve been the safest in all Las Vegas. More so than the area around police headquarters.

Multitudes were observed. Few passed muster.

Once subjects were spotted, a silver-tongued devil made an initial soft pitch. This just whetted curiosity. If that sufficed, and the potential model(s) bit, he or she or they were further informed where and when queries could be thoroughly answered. Here, the photographer and gallerist would also determine the final cuts.

A wrangler spotted Evangeline doing errands. Barely clad in shades, bikini top, shorts, and flip-flops, her art apparent, she filled the phenotype most sought after by Margalit and Clemmie.

At the introductory session held in an off-Strip conference room, about three dozen potential models listened as Margalit and Clemmie explained their vision. Aside from the rows of folding seats, a 30-cup coffee urn, condiments, plastic utensils, soft drinks, Styrofoam cups and bowls of artfully stacked fruit spread across a table; opposite these two open-topped, seven-foot high, tarpaulin enclosures, a small one funneling into a sizable one. Lighting apparatus poked above the top of the latter.

Ordinarily gallerists curate while artists create. Rarely, if ever, have the two fields overlapped. More a serendipitous instance than great minds thinking alike, Clemmie and Margalit separately acknowledged the rising number of young increasingly enthralled by inked flesh. Individually both went a step further and wondered whether each bearer’s design pattern could join another’s myriad characters and together form their own random chapters. Would the amalgamation be visual gibberish or might they prevent continuity?

This discovery was the aim of the women’s project. One they quickly christened Living Art.

Incestuous as outsiders perceive the New York art world, that two people from the field’s opposite ends birth the same idea independently seemed a little too Kismet. While not publicity-seeking whores, neither Margalit or Clemmie was publicity shy. Skepticism underlined chattering among their peers and media interests soon picked up the scent.

The poses eventually plotted would involve two or more figures.

Living Art insists on nudity,” Margalit announced. “So if you find being naked a problem, if you find other people being naked in front of you a problem, if you find yourself being naked in front of other people a problem, well, that’s quite troublesome. This, then, is not the gig for you.”

A few chuckles creased a grin along the gallerist’s face. She continued.

“Also, more than simple exhibitionism will be demanded. Given the project’s needs, we both expect an indecent share of genital contact. Contact, ladies and gentlemen. Contact. Not penetration. Sorry if you’re disappointed either way.”

Her last sentence obtained a bubble of laughter from her audience. While amusement inflated and popped, several listeners rose and absented themselves out of the room.

After the reluctant and bashful departed and the space settled, Clemmie stepped forward. She gave a breezy summary of her career. Young as the crowd skewed, a few appreciative murmurs floated up when the photographer recited journals and magazines having published her prints as well the galleries in which she’d been exhibited.

At the end, she said, “So you see I’m not just some pervy woman with several digital cameras and a few lenses. I’m a pervy woman with a lot of digital cameras and even more lenses.”

Another round of chuckles, then Margalit retook the floor. She presented several den mother suggestions. Get good nights’ sleeps before the shoots. Bring reading material to the sessions to keep mentally active. She told the assembled plan on being incommunicado for a good stretch of hours because other than during breaks handhelds usage would be prohibited.

“And bring robes,” Margalit added. “I myself prefer red or green silk, full-length floor-draggers bearing dragon or perch motifs. You, on the other hand, may just have to make-do with a comfy but ratty housecoat. Doesn’t matter. I know it will be a one-hundred and godawful outside. But we’ll be inside and you can bet your asses the AC will be blasting. We’re not photoshopping goosebumps, so please, robes.”

For emphasis she raised her hands and tented the fingers before her face. A silent moment let the crowd become rapt. Margalit slowly lowered the peak of her tent and swung its point left to right. Upon speaking she dropped both hands to her sides.

“If you’re not in the viewfinder, you’ll be cooling your jets. Clemmie and I will be posing you as the mood, ah, muse, strikes. Instead of jumping in and out of clothing, a robe allows rapid transitions from relaxation into readiness or vice versa. And sitting around naked doing nothing gets tired real quick. Trust me. I know. Anyway, doesn’t ‘disrobing’ sound way more professional than ‘stripping’?”

Preliminaries ended with those remaining agreeably submitting to test shots – individual nude photos. Thus the reason behind the fabric walls. Modesty. After disrobing in the smaller, then walking into the larger where the women, an assistant, and lighting array awaited to start the talent appraisal process.

Yet before any garment was unbuttoned, unzipped, and removed, paperwork needed completion. Identification and ages required verification; waivers signed and witnessed by a notary hired just for this purpose. Once business and legal parts were addressed, artistry began a week later.

The two-day shoot had been scheduled to occur inside a disused warehouse on Sammy Davis Jr. Drive. Margalit and Clemmie brought along several of their most long-time assistants/advisers/associates for aid.

For the scut work, though, they hired local Las Vegas personnel already crewing in the city’s burgeoning porn industry. Their familiarity around bare flesh would less likely discomfort the talent as might google-eyed Square Joes and Janes recruited from a temp agency or union hall.

The first session passed uneventfully. So much so it confirmed notions only the briefest instances of action punctured the longest stretches of boredom.

A first-day highlight, though, incited the participants’ curiosity. No matter how seemingly blasé the observer, human nudity never failed arousing unblinking spurts of gawking. Indifferent as many strove mightily to appear before their own and others’ complete exposures, even the chilliest of the most chill among them all eyeballed eyefuls of fellow talent.

Uncertain of matchups, Margalit and Clemmie decided on a nude carousel of sorts. Not only would the maneuver dilute and defuse plenty of anxiety, but it would also let the pair evaluate how changing light and shadow might allow them to manipulate art and figures.

They assembled the talent in a wide circle. Robes were shed. Clemmie requested gazes turn right, then left, before all did their utmost to focus on her. All eyes somewhat forward, she commanded the whole body to pivot right then walk.

Amazing how no toes scraped against the heels of the person ahead.

A few laps and Clemmie halted the procession. She reversed its direction and had the participants resume circling. Several more revolutions and she again ordered them to stop. Somehow each marcher was approximate to where he or she had laid his or her robe on the concrete floor.

As far as icebreakers went, this maneuver abruptly tempered a lot of nervous energy.

Somewhat familiar with the raw material, Clemmie then made her first choices. At first everybody was “you.” But she and Margalit possessed memories which must be unique to women. A single proper introduction and without fail they remembered names.

The “studio” housed three sets. Actually these consisted of black, gray, and white fabric flooring and backing. The eye accented hues and complexions set against each drew different details. Pallor and pop changed, becoming pronounced or subdued, depending on which background the models posed against.

Clemmie’s attuned eyes fairly had the whole assemble feeling as if short relays comprised their shoot. Shuttling among the three locations probably seemed chaotic. That the teams involved rarely held the same members likely made it all the more disordered to them.

Yet at the end of the day’s shoot when Clemmie enlarged random thumbnails on her laptop then invited the interested or skeptical to view this handiwork, movement and capture became apparent. Sensing the prior dissatisfaction now dispelled, Margalit crowed.

“As always, kids, the proof is in the pudding.”

The talent stared at her blankly. Lacking in the Western literature canon as most of the Millennial talent was, the gallerist’s allusion zoomed over their heads.

The second day session could’ve been as “organic” as the opener, but first a hiccup. Evangeline had brought Adair along.

Although Clemmie and Margalit strictly forbade any attendance by the uninvolved, including service animals, Evangeline waited for her chance and palavered with them after the first-day crowd had dispersed. She persuaded them Adair could be “a teachable moment.”

Indeed she’d seen his reaction to her painted flesh. Or his shock how far distinction roamed upon her body. He was plainly aghast. It pierced her.

Confiding in the women, she was grateful for two outcomes. One, Adair didn’t end their arrangement; and two, he assuredly never let thoughts of it intrude while she and the bull fucked.

Perhaps the only reason Margalit and Clemmie broke their rule developed from Evangeline’s candor. Despite being a Californian, she sounded like a New York woman. Realistic and blunt.

Adair’s appearance did not draw attention from the younger attendees. So immersed in themselves someone gray-haired fell beneath their notice. However, the adjuncts and crew registered him. A few spied him with misgivings. Others inquired of the women about his identity.

Margalit determined telling the truth more trouble than it worth. Instead she transformed Adair into a “butter-and-egg man.” From Philadelphia. He nosed around in order to gauge his comfort whether he’d invest in a future proposal of hers.

She found prospective business generally tamped down suspicion. The scent of dollars lowered scruples. It made people helpful. Who wanted to interrupt the possibility of money?

Those assembled in robes reminded Adair of a big diverse sleepaway. Amid all the fabrics and designs he liked how Evangeline stood out. A week before, he’d accompanied her to numerous boutiques throughout Las Vegas in order to purchase this robe. The garment she eventually selected, a green silk number with a perch launching itself out of the water, clung to her and underscored her contours.

It immediately became his favorite article of Evangeline’s to watch her shed. That she now styled it among so many who had zero inkling of its significance delighted him.

Margalit escorted Adair to Clemmie’s workbench. Playing her part, she let the gallerist introduce them. They shook hands.

“Your protégé has been such a find,” the photographer said. “We’re all grateful for her, aren’t we?”

Her subtext elicited a minor ripple but he didn’t have a respite to delve below it. Clemmie diverted him by once more summoning thumbnails of couples, threesomes, foursomes or more on her laptop. She enlarged and had the device scroll through them.

Clemmie asked him to focus on what fused and what wandered. The instances where imagery elided into something akin to the same narrative. Or in some cases a chapter ends abruptly and another is started but at its conclusion the first is resumed. Did he see? Did he want to see? Could he?

Tough to judge how Adair received the images reflecting off his glasses. Bored? Disinterested? Indulgent? After her short presentation Clemmie blackened the screen. She asked his impressions.

What Adair thought and what he said swerved. He knew had he been honest he might’ve insulted the photographer and the models. After all, hadn’t marriage instilled in him the survival instinct of contemplation before speaking?
Nonetheless a portion of his mind needed voicing.

“What happens when the models, you know, the subjects, get older? Age?” he asked.

Neither Margalit or Clemmie followed him.

“When they get older,” Adair repeated. “They’re some kind of perfect now. We all were once, right?”

“Certainly I was,” Margalit joked. “And more often than not I still am.”

Adair chuckled at her estimations.

“Oh, without a doubt we all surely were,” he replied. “But today raises questions about us and our esteem.”

“Much is being said for clarity of vision,” Clemmie said.

Adair said, “When they get older, your models, all these painted people, and life takes its course, makes it demands, what then? The colors are vibrant now. The flesh is smooth and what beneath it is hard. What happens when years fade inks and gravity softens and crepes skin?”

“Nothing like being crushed by the vicissitudes of our mortal time on earth, is there?” Margalit intoned.

Clemmie nodded thoughtfully. She spoke to Adair.

“Then as experience has already informed us won’t those conditions present different views prompting different retellings? Yes. After all, this is living art.”