Without fail, every season on the Amazing Race, there’s a challenge in which teams have to carry heavy, awkward things over long distances. I’ve always wanted to be on the Amazing Race and so I watch each episode with half a mind focused on how to prepare for when it’s my turn. But carrying heavy awkward thing over long distances is not the kind of thing you can easily train for.
Unless of course you’re an art handler.
Standing in the storage area of my gallery Tuesday morning were two 6-foot canvases. They were awaiting transport to an off-site location where my team was installing an affiliated exhibition. Given that I have a compact SUV with moving blankets in the back, I was the designated transport.
“Are you going to bring your car around?” my assistant asked.
My car was parked half a mile away. Down a hill.
“No. I’ll just carry them to the car.”
I ignored her doubtful/cautionary expression as she handed me the white gloves.
I had only walked five feet from the gallery when a gust of wind and a traffic light made me realize that this might have been one of those lapse of judgement moments. The canvas under each arm had transformed me into an urban sailboat, with only forearms for rudders. My floaty skirt that was keen to pull a Marilyn Monroe over the subway at any moment had to be ignored.
The old man who sits with his walker on the street corner and calls me “Cupcake” was, thankfully, enjoying the early bird special at the Legion.
With each block the canvases grew heavier. The wind, wilder. And all I could think is: Why, oh why did I insist on the extra set of bicep curls!?! The half mile to my car was the longest half mile of my life.
People paused to gawk. Others dove out of my way. A few got bashed with the frames of the canvases’ stretcher. A beautiful man in a Mercedes convertible pulled over to ask if I needed a ride. He was wearing a Rolex… and a wedding band. I artfully (haha!) declined.
When I finally arrived at my car, I folded the seats down. Laid out the moving blankets. And proceed to attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Neither canvas fit.
I sat down on the parking lot asphalt. My arms were shaking — there was no way I was carrying these back to the gallery.
Eventually, thanks to a “phone a friend” lifeline, I found a solution. The paintings did not have to be abandoned in the parking lot — a threat I had thrown at them as they leaned against the side of my car, mocking me.
When I arrived at the satellite site, I expected to find a world map welcome mat and Phil Keoghan waiting for me. Instead, it was just a series of white walls and another Road Block — a very large picture puzzle.