July 31, 2011
“People don’t want to see clothes, they want to see something that fuels the imagination.” ~Alexander McQueen
I love how Eric Wilson in his opening paragraph of the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times, says this about Alexander McQueen, “considered one of the greatest fashion designers of his generation, admired by his peers for his astounding technical ability and idolized by students for his near-fearless risk-taking. “
And he is not kidding.
With one week to go at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is a must see. And according to Wilson, “for the first time ever the Metropolitan Museum is staying open until midnight the last two nights of the show, August 6th and August 7. ”
One solution to standing on a three- hour line is to join as a member. I just did but that was AFTER Eva joined first, I’ll explain if you keep reading.
Last Thursday, July 28th my friend Laurie, whom I first met when we both worked at Elizabeth Arden in the 1990’s, her 14 year old daughter Lauren one of Lauren’s BFF’s, Daniela, whose birthday we were celebrating with her first trip to the Metropolitan Museum and I went to see “Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty” Exhibit.
Prior to our visit, Laurie called the Met with a few questions, “Was the museum air-conditioned? What is the best time to get to there to see the exhibit?” We were wondering are really going to have to wait 3 hours to get in to this exhibit?
Yes, the museum is air-conditioned though I can’t even imagine what kind of system they must have after all it’s a pretty big place.
But I digress.
So the museum person on the phone said that people were lining up at 7:00 a.m. to get in to see this exhibit. Okay, that seemed a bit early so we thought we would try for 10:00 a.m. The museum person also suggested that we buy our tickets online to avoid waiting inline for the general museum admission once we got there.
And so we did.
Although we agreed to meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Met, getting everyone out the door and into cars and onto trains proved more of a challenge than originally expected so we adjusted our meeting time to 11:00 a.m.
Laurie drove from Dobbs Ferry, I took the 9:42 a.m. train from Rockville Centre to Pennsylvania Station on 34th and 8th, got on the E train and changed to the #6 Lexington Avenue line and got off at 86th and Lexington and walked to the Met a few blocks away.
When I arrived at the Met a few minutes before 11:00 the place was already a beehive of activity. The steps at the Met are a well-known gathering place. There were some live mannequins in cocktail dresses about halfway up the steps taking photos and offering a summer discount at a dress rental company by the name of http://www.renttherunway.com
There was a live Doo-Wop group singing Frankie Lymon’s, “Why do Fools Fall in Love?” I called my husband Mark so he could hear them singing, Frankie Lymon has a special place in Mark’s musical life so I thought he would like to hear them sing Lymon’s signature song. There were about 100 people sitting on the steps taking photos of the girls in their dresses and listening to the guys in the Doo-Wop group.
Since I was wearing a white shift dress, I was not about to sit down on the steps so I found a nice shady spot under a tree. Or so I thought. Standing near me was a woman who just lit up a cigarette right there in front of the Met on a city street in a public place!
Smoking a cigarette, isn’t that against the law? A thought crossed my mind, do I call the cops on her or just let it go? After all, She WAS breaking the law.
She also was speaking Italian to her friend and I surmised that they were tourists from Italy.
Another thought crossed my mind, am I going to be the person who gets them arrested for smoking in front of the Met?
Do I want to end up on the 6 0’clock news for being a jerk to a tourist?
Hell no. Let her smoke. It’s a free country. Except if you smoke in New York City.
I decided to let it go and find another tree to stand under.
While it was hot outside, it was nothing like the past week: unbreathable, H-H-H and I was thankful as I stood there for less heat and humidity. Laurie was running a bit late and I noticed for a moment I found myself annoyed because I was concerned about the lines for Savage Beauty. But really would it matter if we got on the line at 10:00 a.m. or 11:00?
Then I remembered that if I really didn’t want to wait on a long line I could have gotten here at 7 a.m. or joined as a member and walk right to the front or purchased the special $50.00 Monday morning and way-less-crowds-tickets when the museum is closed.
I decided to just see what happens. How bad could it be I thought?
How long could a 3-hour line be and I wondered and what will we do for 3 hours? Well for one thing there is art in the museum maybe we will pass some while we wait.
Then I started to think about my feet, what if they get tired or start to hurt, then what? Or my lower back might tighten up from standing so long on a hard marble floor and I might have to do some yoga stretches to be able to stand on what I imagined to be a very long, long line and then be able to see the exhibit.
This was all running around in my head and I was still standing under a tree up front!
Finally, Laurie and the girls arrive and we meet at the top of the steps and go inside. After we go through the bag search, I go to the checkroom to get rid of my big tote bag and just take my little bag with all my essentials: Lipstick, iPhone, credit cards, money, Ricola cough drops and a hand fan just in case it is a long and warm wait.
Next stop is my mother’s now famous “Never pass a bathroom rule” being invoked by all four of us. We make our way through the Egyptian sarcophagi and bejeweled treasures of gold from the year 500 to find the closest loo and then speed our way back to go upstairs and get on the end of the line.
As we headed in the direction of the end of the line, I noticed that as we got closer we found ourselves weaving in and out of the slower moving visitors perhaps we were each hoping that the quicker we moved, the sooner we got onto the line, somehow the wait would be less.
As we stood there, the girls were madly texting their friends which is just what 14-year-old girls do. I was happy to have the booklet “McQueen line Trek the Taming of the Queue” in hand so as we moved along I could take advantage of seeing the artworks around me and getting a little education and maybe avoid the mind chatter that goes with standing on a very long line.
The sign said that from the point we were standing expect a wait of 21/2 to 3 hours.
Now I was wishing I had brought my lunch.
As we slowly inched our way around the gallery I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me a petite gal with black hair, she said she kept putting off coming because of the lines, but that she really wanted to see it and it was ending soon.
We were laughing at ourselves for being on this long line and wondered just how long it really was, what exactly did a 2 1/2 – 3 hour line really look like? How far would we have to travel on your quest to see this exhibit? We decided we would know that when we got to the end of it.
Sometimes we took big steps and said hopefully, “this line seems to be moving pretty quickly.” We were really deluding ourselves into believing we would somehow be transported to the entrance to the McQueen exhibit quicker.
We turned the corner and just ahead while slowly passing the ancient Japanese ceramics I noticed there was a bench. I observed that people would sit 2 and 3 on the bench checking their email or texting a friend and then, they would move on.
Soon it would be my turn to sit and I could get a little back – stretch and rest my feet for one moment before having to move on.
Right then I was lost in thought and doing a few surreptitious Sufi grinds for my lower back when Lauren came over to me and said, “Come on we are going. Hurry up let’s go.”
“Going? Going where?”
Laurie says to me, “this woman right here, what’s your name,”
“Eva” she says
Laurie says to me, “Eva just became a member and can take in four people and she came over to me and said, let’s go you are my guests.”
What? Wow! Are you kidding me? Who is this Eva? She is an angel sent from above, a nice woman doing a kindness, paying it forward, tapping my friend Laurie on the shoulder and boom we are going to the front of the line?! This is so deluxe I cannot believe how lucky we are.
As we are practically running along with Eva, I tell her she is doing “a mitzvah,” and she laughs and says “yes, I guess I am.”
The line, it turns out is way longer than we have imagined. It snakes all around the building through hallways and passages which explains why the Met called their brochure “McQueen line Trek -The Taming of the Queue” they were not kidding.
Even at the pace we were moving along flying past all the people we were now leaving behind because of the kindness of Eva and the good fortune bestowed upon us, it took us more than 5 minutes to walk all the way to the front of the line.
As we walked into the exhibit it occurred to me that it would have taken at least three hours to finally get inside. I tried to keep up with Eva because now I wanted to take her to a fancy restaurant for lunch and thank her for her generosity.
Eva disappeared into the crowd that was moving ever so slowly through the exhibit, it was obvious no one wanted to miss anything everyone seemed to want to savor every morsel of the 11 rooms of Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty.
It would have been worth the wait though I don’t know if my feet would have agreed but instead I am most grateful to Eva and I made a promise that I would look for ways to do the same for another person when the opportunity presented itself.
On the way home going through the subway turnstile, I saw a young woman with a handful of Metro cards, frantically swiping each one, each one saying “insufficient fare” which meant she would have to walk all the way around and go get a new card.
Without thinking I handed my Metro card to her and said, “Here use this one,” and she swiped it and said, “thanks a lot” she had to get home to the sitter.
If you want to see more images of the exhibit and read more about it and buy tickets, go right to the Met blog here:http://blog.metmuseum.org/alexandermcqueen/
You can read Eric Wilson’s piece from the NYTimes go here.
Oh and if you become a member you can go to the front of the line and bring some people with you too.
- Met Museum to Stay Open for McQueen Show Later Than Ever Before (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- PHOTOS: Last Call For Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (queerty.com)