Big Eyed Narcissus

for little brothers

When they met, it was years later, after everyone had been established and was more or less comfortable. How they met I’m not sure, seated next to each other on a train, on a transatlantic liner, seated back to back in a restaurant, one leaning over to borrow the newspaper. However it was, they fell into conversation.

–O, it’s all very well to live on nothing in Paris and hang around with young and fruitless painters but it’s got to be paid for. I could show you figures. So much for a Picasso, so much for a Matisse, so much for a Gris. Of course they were cheap then and have paid themselves back over and over but still they had to be paid for.

–Don’t you tell me, said Gummo, and grimaced at the weak tea and milk. Piano lessons and harp lessons and singing lessons. “What does it matter?” and then what got us through? What kept the crowds coming back before they discovered they liked being insulted? Singing and piano playing and soft soap. And now they sing and play the harp and there’s some as like it, and some as don’t, but it’s all money.

–It’s all money. Exactly! Exactly! I don’t grudge them anything. God knows I’ve got my talents and they’ve got theirs. Good to see anyone doing well. But how many years did they live on what I gave them? How many years did they spend walking around Paris and looking into run down houses with art covering the walls while I stayed behind and figured how to make it all work? It’s all money.