For several years now, there were a couple of things I anticipated doing for my 40th birthday.
One of them is still "in the works", and will not be shared publicly, although there are a few of you that know what I'm talking about...
The other one, was... (prepare to laugh out loud!) have a portrait drawn of myself. Yes! You read that right. My claim is that anyone of any importance has a portrait drawn of them, and why can't I join those ranks of people who have portraits commissioned and hanging for all to see?
A few years ago I read a great novel about a portrait artist that fascinated me, plus having had a portrait drawn of myself when I was 11 years old, that is somewhat outdated now, I figured why not mark my 40th birthday with a portrait.
Except, then I started thinking about how I would really go about finding an artist, and was that really self-centered, and plus, WHERE WOULD I HANG IT? So, as my 40th birthday approached, and other to-dos took center stage, it didn't really enter the forefront of my mind as I anticipated it would.
Until two days before my 40th birthday, when Mike, Megan, Ellie and I walked into Central Park in NYC and saw an artist drawing a portrait of a couple that was VERY good and realistic. Immediately, Mike and Megan turned to me and said, "Here you go!!! Here's your chance, right here in NYC!"
All my dreams of a portrait for my 40th birthday suddenly were replaced with, "Seriously? I'm going to sit here in Central Park amid all this foot traffic and be drawn?" "What if I start laughing hysterically?" "What if he draws a completely unflattering version of me." "What if... What if... What if..."
We sat on a nearby bench and observed the artist finishing up with the couple, and politely declined the invitation of a nearby artist to be his next customer. (We didn't see any "proof" that he was as good as the one we were watching.) Mike, Megan and Ellie kept bugging me to be the next customer, but I was VERY skeptical. I'd talked about it for years, yet here was a perfect, unique opportunity to have it done and I was second guessing myself! Mike assured me I would regret it, and with that, I stood up and promptly became the focus of Central Park foot traffic.
It was actually quite embarrassing. My family sat across on a nearby bench laughing at me, while I was trying not to laugh. I wondered what the nice Filipino man was thinking about me as he stared intently into my eyes and face. (That novel I read about a portrait artist, left me convinced this artist was also a mind-reader and was reading every thought and feeling I have ever felt/thought.) People would walk by, stop and stare at the paper, and then at me. Some would give me a big smile, some a thumbs up, and some would avoid any eye contact with me. I could hear some whisper to others in their group, "Wow!" or "He's good." or "Very realistic!" All I could do was sit still (which is VERY hard for me to do), and keep quiet (another VERY hard thing for me to do.)
While I was sitting still, having a Filipino artist analyze every piece of hair on my head, and wrinkle on my face, I could tell across the path that Mike and the girls were suddenly in a state of near-panic. I wasn't sure what was going on, until Mike came up to me with my debit card and asked for my pin number. Apparently, there was a slight complication in the price interpretation of the artist's sign, and Megan, upon realizing we did not have enough cash to pay when the portrait was complete, caused Mike to trek off in search of an ATM in Central Park. (At the Central Park Zoo in case you ever need one.)
(Right before going into the park, we considered finding an ATM as we figured we'd want to buy some ice cream or something from a vendor, but we added up all the cash we had, and realized it would suffice our Central Park stroll.)
Until the portrait man caught our eye.
And so now, I present to you....in all of its beauty? humor? flaws? realism? the portrait MIKE had commissioned of me for my 40th birthday in New York City's Central Park.
I refuse to point out my criticisms of the photo, lest you only notice those flaws. (Which unfortunately are likely flaws with MY FACE not flaws with the artistic abilities.)
This portrait was UPS'ed home from NYC to prevent any damage being done to it squished into a suitcase. It was quite humorous to watch how protective Mike was of this silly thing and its safety for the duration of that day's travels.
A week after returning home from our NYC trip, the portrait arrived home and has yet to be framed or decided where to hang. Mike now regrets not getting one of himself. Yes! That's right. I was as shocked for him to say that, as you may be for reading it.
Interpret it all as you wish.