On Father’s Day, Peter and his parents came over for a few hours. His dad wanted to see the pictures of my trip, so I obliged via my tablet. As usual, Peter was hanging on me and in the midst of the activity.
Suddenly, there was David.
His dad swiped to the next picture. Another shot of David. And another. And another. Silence from the boy.
I thought I should just deal with the elephant in the room. “I’ll bet you’re wondering why David is naked.” He looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes. I talked about how artists at that time and place wanted to idolize the human body and portray it as beautifully perfect as possible. This was art, not something to be worried about. We should be modest (huh???) about our bodies, but this was different. This is a beautiful body. “The most beautiful man in the world,” our guide kept telling us.
No reply. From anyone. I kept talking.
Why didn’t someone kick me? Make a T with their hands or a slicing motion across the throat or a zipping motion across the lips? Something.
I talked about the change in perspective, that the amazingly young Michelangelo had designed this statue to be placed high above our heads, which may be why the hands and head are so large. I talked about his belief that God had already created the figure in the marble; his job was to reveal it.
“But why is he naked?”
I talked about the way people later misunderstood the art. I mentioned fig leaves.
“How did they wear the leaves?”
I was sweating; I thought my art appreciation lecture would never end. As they left, I apologized to our daughter-in-law for having brought up the subject.
The next day was Grandma and Grandpa Day. We played in the basement, building a school with walls created from broken-down Stampin’ Up! boxes. In front of the school was a gate, he told me. A beautiful gate. With naked people. But it was OK. They are beautiful.