1965-01-30 - A Day at the Museum
Summary: Doug, wanting to nurture the small bean's artistic side, takes Jebediah to an art museum
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
douglas jebediah 


Jebediah doesn't know what he thinks about this musueum business. After encouragement from his brother as well as Doug to embrace his 'artsy' side. It's hard to separate his mind from the stigma of the word meaning something far worse than 'good with his hands' or 'creates things from nothing', it means 'likes boys, girly, not manly' back in Kentucky but he tries, he really does to swallow down that feeling and go with Doug to a museum. He's nervous, not sure that he's going to appreciate whatever they see there to the degree Doug wants him to, but he doesn't often get time alone with Doug where they aren't talking about Jay. He procures them a taxi to their destination and when the cab driver asks where they're going, he nods to Doug. "Ah don't know, man. Ah think you said more'n one. Which one you wanna go to?"

"Let's go to the Met," Doug says, before he leans back, and says, to the Cabbie, "Metropolitan Museum of Art." He glances to Jeb, and says, "Look, bean," He says, "It's fine. You're just going to look at some paintings and some statues." He laces his fingers together, "And whatever you take away from that is for just you, and nobody else. Okay?"

Jebediah sets his hands on his knees, still looking nervous. He nods at Doug stiffly when he brings to life the ridiculousness of his nerves. "Ah don't paint. Ah just.. burn some stuff with my eyes and it looks cooler when Ah'm done." He mentions. He looks over at Doug and looks like he really wants to ask him something but stops himself short.

Doug raises an eyebrow, and says, "You know that I know half of what you're going to say before you say it, right? You can just spill it." He looks up, at the cabbie, "Or wait until we're out of the car." He sits back, and relaxes. When the cab pulls up at the Met, Doug pays him, and then lets Jeb out. "So what's on your mind?" He asks.

"Ah know that but maybe you won't always abuse it. You really are like my big brother. Just change your last name to Guthrie, we'll take you home for the summer, mama won't even know there's one more." He teases but does wait until they're out of the car to say anything, looking around at the people they're surrounded by. "Ah don't know, but did Jay tell you anythin' about the day Ah moved out? Anythin' we talked about?"

"Jay doesn't tell me everything." Doug says, "In fact, he doesn't even tell me most things." Doug shrugs, lightly, as he gestures to Jay, and starts to head up the front steps and into the museum, which is one of those grand, intimidating old spaces. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art is where a lot of the classic stuff is. The Guggenheim tends toward more modern stuff. I figured we'd start with the classics, first."

"Oh. Ah just thought y'all were supposed to tell each other everythin' when you date. Thought that was like.. how it worked. You tell each other all your darkest secrets and everythin' that's stressin' you out. Ah mean, Ah don't know much of anythin', pretty clueless in the relationship department considerin' the closest Ah ever got to commitment was that whole week Ah played baseball for our school." He teases himself easily. "The Googly what? Can you say that again?"

"The Guggenheim. It was the last name of… I'll tell you later." Doug says. "Well, we're still figuring out a lot of that." He says, "But Jay and I aren't why I'm here." Doug says. "You have something that's on your mind, and I won't pry, but you can tell me if you want to." Then he sticks his hands into his pockets. "Here's a secret about dating? Nobody knows anything."

Jebediah laughs when Doug tells him that. "Well, then Ah'd be real good at because Ah /don't/ know anythin'!" He says cheerfully. "No, Ah just.. see, Ah had a funny feelin' in my stomach.. about a guy.. he smiled at me and it made my stomach all weird and when Ah asked Jay about it, he told me it didn't mean nothin' and Ah worry too much but that didn't really help."

Doug considers this, and then says, "He was probably just trying to get you not to think about it. Here's the thing, Jeb. You have to decide what you're able to handle, emotionally. What you're fishing for is an answer — and yes, that is one of the signs of feeling attracted to another person. The pulse speeds up, you take deep, shallow breaths, your eyes dilate. Am I going to categorically tell you you're one thing or another? No… because as much as people might like to say that humans are binary — you are or you aren't — it's not true. We are the sole expression of ourselves, our own language, and every one is unique. Like a snowflake." He walks into the museum. "Does that mean you're going to go out and start doing stuff that'd… ugh, shame your family — not necessarily."

Jebediah tries to follow but Doug uses the word 'binary' and he wants to ask him to definie it but he also doesn't want to look stupid. "Well, Jay said that you and he both like both. Maybe Ah do too. Listen, Ah don't care about 'shamin' the family'. Ah ain't ever been one of the Guthrie Top Five, alright? Ah got Jay run out of town, Ah got the whole family run out of town. Me takin' a boy on a date ain't gonna change none of that. Hell, Doug, Ah could kiss you right on the mouth out here in front of God and everybody and Ah still couldn't taint my reputation any more than Ah already have. Jay's different because.. he's good. He's just good. That's why he struggles." He tries to explain, especially when Doug sounds so disgusted by the idea that 'doing the gay' shames their family.

"Binary. One thing or the other. One or zero…" He thinks, "A light switch. On or off." Doug quirks his mouth, and then says, "I will never REALLY understand the way southerners think. But I will use a saying I learned from Sam —" Doug turns to head into an exhibition hall, "Get down off the cross, Jebediah, we need the wood to fire the still." He raises an eyebrow. "Did I say that right?" Then he adds, "Your brother isn't as good as you think he is. He's kind — he's gentle, he's sensitive… but he's also not here." He points to Jeb. "Paintings. Art." He gestures. "Civilization."

"Doug. My brother has failin's. We all do. The more you harp on them, the.. more the… the mortality of your relationship lessens. Ah get it, you fuckin' hate it that he's ashamed of who he likes, Ah get it. That hurts you but if you don't shut your damn mouth about what he doesn't do, Ah'm gonna punch you in the mouth, right here in a musuem and then you'll never get your chance to nourish my young mind with the arts, alright? My brother is a good man and that's what we're gonna leave it at, 'afore I slap the sense right out of you and you won't be able to use big words no more like binary and Googlyhen." He heaves a big sigh, mentally tells himself to give Doug a chance to decide not to talk no more shit before he hits him. "Now, if you are gonna agree to that, we can have ourselves a good time and talk about these paintings. It's just you, me and the art, right now."

"Jeb." Doug says, something about to come out of his mouth, but he stops himself by holding up a hand. "Never mind." He gestures. "I've been here before." He says. "This is your trip. I want you to look at the paintings, think about and talk about how YOU feel."

Jeb's shoulders sag in relief when Doug doesn't say something else about how his brother isn't good enough. "Ah don't know that art makes me feel anythin'. It makes me feel.. relaxed? When Ah'm doin' it myself." He explains. "Like, all the angry pours out of me in the form of birds burnt into wood."

"That's a good enough reason to do it." Doug says. "But emotions are complicated. Art… is complicated." Doug says. "And one of the points of art is to look at it, and enjoy the sensation of appreciating the art on multiple levels. The skill of the artist. Color. The art itself. How it makes you feel…" He smiles, and puts his hands on his hips, "All are part of the language of the artwork, and all of them are important."

The way that Doug talks about art makes Jeb feel something. Admiration maybe, but it does make his heart skip a little beat and he's starting to wonder if just seeing someone happy… someone excited about something, someone in their element, if /that's/ not the thing he's attracted to more than anything else. Doug wasn't pretty until he was gushing about art the same way that Kaleb had never registered as pretty to Jebediah until he was smiling, until he was talking about the world he wants to build, his dreams. That's what Jebediah finds beautiful, that's what makes Jebediah want to kiss someone. He never has that drive, never thinks about until then, until someone is just so lost in something they're describing, the thing they're passionate about and the way it makes their eyes light up. Hell, he could fall in love with anyone in that moment. That's why he'd kept Kaleb talking, kept asking questions and he hung on every word. He finds his cheeks flushing and he has to quick look away from Doug so as not to reveal it, that strange… confusing, scary flutter in his chest. "Y'know.. Ah never thought about what art was supposed to make me feel. Ah didn't think anyone painted stuff to … there's a big word, Ah heard Kale use it. Invoke? Invoke an emotion from me. Ah just thought they did it because it made 'em rich and it looked nice."

Doug pauses. "Oh, Jeb." He puts his hand on Jeb's shoulder. "Have you never heard the term starving artist? For every one artist who becomes rich, there's ten, a hundred, who barely manage to feed themselves, who never really make a dime. They make art because they have to. Because they create… because they're artists. Brilliant, or tortured, or driven… they have passion. Just like you, bean. You're all passion."

Jeb will /not/ look at Doug right now. Especially when he says that Jebediah is all passion, like the word is some kind of forbidden one. "Me? Passion." He tries that word on for size even though it stammers off of his lips. "You think so? I thought that I was just.. fight.. and stubborn."

"What do you think passion is?" Doug says. "It's feeling, it's intensity. And I don't think I've seen you do anything in a way that wasn't intense. You even sweep the floor hard." Doug says, "Like you're gonna sweep that floor like it's never been swept before." Doug says, with a shrug. "I admire it. It's a positive trait, as long as you're not being stupid about it."

Jebediah hazards a smile then when Doug talks about how he cleans the floor like it owes him money. He can't think of a time that he didn't do something aggressively. If he's assigned something, he throws himself into it and even the things he picks for himself, he drowns himself in it. "Ah guess Ah don't really know how Ah'd define it. It's got a couple definitions. A passion is something you really love to do. Passion is something you do strongly, ah guess. Listen Ah ain't got the fancy book learnin' to put it into prettier words. You did a pretty good job." He finally looks over at Doug now.

"That's my superpower." Doug says. He puts his hand on Jeb's shoulder. "Come on, Bean. Walk with me, and talk to me about what you see when you look at these paintings." He steers Jeb along. "Let me know if there are any that really stand out to you for whatever reason."

They stop in front of a canvas, long instead of tall. The paint strokes look like someone had just violently thrown the brush in front of themselves, like they had whisked them in front of them like a sword, slashed at the canvas. Jeb is quiet until this one and he grabs Doug's wrist to stop him. "This one." He insists gesturing to it. "It feels… it feels loud to me, like the busy-ness in someone's head when they're thinkin' and over thinkin' and then thinkin' some more about all that over thinkin'. Like when the world has just been too much."

Doug looks at the painting, and strokes his chin. "And you feel that way a lot." He says. That's not a question. "That's very avant-garde." he says. "There's this current artist, he's very popular, named Andy Warhol. I have some prints of some of his stuff," Doug says, "When I get home, I'll show them to you and see what you think. Soup cans and Marilyn Monroe and stuff.

"You think Ah think too much? Doug, ah think you might be the only one who thinks that Ah think at all." He wonders what else Doug seems to know about him that Jebediah doesn't know about himself. "Ah don't know what Ahvint.. whatever you said means. Can you tell me? Are artists even allowed to paint other people and sell it?"

"Portraiture? Oh sure." Doug says. "There's whole STYLES of portrait art." He goes walking along. "Paintings of humans. Like here, this one's a Klimt." He gestures to it. "He was often hired to paint commisions of people, but his work often has a touch of the otherworldly to it. There's a very famous Klimt I saw in Austria, the Woman in Gold — it was of a Jewish woman whose husband commissioned him to paint the portrait. The Nazis stole it from their family."

"Why would they wanna steal it? Just because she was Jewish? A person can't just… look Jewish, can they? In a painting? Especially a girl. Unless they called it 'Jewish girl' why take it?" That seems to twist Jeb up inside, art being stolen because of it was by, what it was of. No one should ever have anything they put time and effort and heart into stolen from them.

"It was because the family was jewish, and the Nazis took *everything*—when you don't see someone as human you help themselves to their property to enrich yourself… it's theft." He pats Jeb on the shoulder. "Come on, let's look at more."

"Let's invent a time machine so Ah can go back and punch the Nazis in the face and also set them on fire." Jeb says grumpily as he's tugged along by Doug. He stops him at another painting, a ship caught in the middle of a storm, a wave rocking the ship perilously. "This one." He says, a hand on Doug's chest to stop him. "This one, it makes me feel… helpless and scared."

Doug considers the painting, and then nods. "Where me, it makes me feel… determined, and brave. That's the beautiful thing about art. Two people can look at the same thing, and feel completely differently, and they're both right." He says, studying it curiously.

"And the artists themselves may have just been painting a damn ship and if they could hear us having emotions about it they might look at us like we're crazy." Jeb teases.

"Maybe." Dirk says, "But I think you'll find that the artist, much like the musician, who's not out to make you feel SOMETHING is a rare bird." He ruffles Jeb's hair. "But see? You're already thinking about art, which is the first step toward making it." He pauses. "Let's go get some lunch at the museum restaurant, and then we'll come back to this. Okay?"


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