Earning my stripes

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‘My hot date with Yayoi Kusama’

“Wow, you sure do like stripes,” commented The Child’s Friend Alexandra, spying me in my pjs one summer morning.

Alexandra, who is now fast on track to be a neurosurgeon, was one of a gaggle of girls gracing our Amagansett Abode a few years ago during one of our sparkly celebrations of the 4th of July. (A much-missed summer tradition of ours you can read about in “Stars in Stripes” and “Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Oh-So-Blue.”)

The Child and I rocking our respective stripes on a 4th of July Weekend a few years ago

It should be noted that Alexandra, during the course of that particular weekend, had already seen me in striped tee shirts, striped tanks, and probably a striped bathing suit as well.

Three Henry Girls live it up on the beach. I’m the one in the stripes, natch

I guess I would have made a good convict. An economical one, anyway, since I could have furnished my own prison wardrobe. That is, if my place of incarceration had gone with the classic striped jumpsuit instead of the neon orange one.

Another year, another striped shirt. Fun fact: I happen to be wearing this shirt right this very minute. I’d take a selfie, but the poor shirt is in only-worn-when-no-one-else-is-here condition

But what’s all this got to do with Yayoi Kusama? In fact, you may be asking, “Who the heck is Yayoi Kusama?” Well. Kusama is a Japanese artist who does all kinds of what I call poppy-powy stuff like sculpture and painting and fashion — she even wraps trees in dotted fabric.

I didn’t get a shot of the fabric-wrapped trees, but here’s one of Friend T face to face with a sculpture in a fountain

She has a show at the Bronx Botanical Garden where her sculptures are “planted” among the flora and fauna so that you can happen serendipitously upon them. (I wrote about another show there featuring glass sculptures by Chihuly a few years ago.)

Also a few years ago, another striped-shirt appearance. This time with a rather sacrilegious french fry

I love the fact that a Kusama show is a hot ticket, especially since when you google her — or click this link — you see that she (yes, Kusama is a “she”) is the same age as my also-hot Mom. She has orange hair — Kusama, not my mom — wears happy colors and takes months to get to see. (Those last two actually are like my Mom.)

Happy Mom, sporting a Happy Print. I’ll get to see her next this December

It took Friend T hours of Covid-shot-scheduling-level computer work, but she scored us two tickets for a September Wednesday. Which turned out to be one of the hottest days ever. Hot in terms of the show, of course. But also hot in terms of the weather.

(Note how hot and sticky I look in the picture at the top of this post. I kind of wanted that Kusama octopus thing to swallow me up and put me out of my misery.)

Flash back to a nice cool stripes-wearing occasion a few years ago

It was hot. So hot that we begged a waiter — and tipped him handsomely — to grab us a couple of cold waters from a fancy reservations-only eating venue. Then, after we’d trudged down a steamy path while struggling mightily to open the fancy metal bottles — trudged back and tipped him even more handsomely to twist the tops off for us.

We took every opportunity to duck inside the (relatively cooler) indoor exhibit spaces. When we reached the conservatory, we wondered why the guards were hanging around outside. Then we stepped inside. Tropical plants were loving it. We non-hothouse flowers, not so much.

Friend T outside the steamy Conservatory a few years ago, shooting a Chihuly

But we persevered — me, upon spotting a bit of shade at the end of a looooong asphalt path: “Look! There’s a tunnel at the end of the light!” — and sighed with relief when we ended in the gift shop. Where I rewarded myself. With some stripes, naturally.

See? Stripes. Made of dots. Sock it to me, Kusama (!)

Amagansett, New York. October 2021