I Think Her Name Was... Geet?
If you need this piece of art ,its available on Etsy right now.
It was a big house - truthfully, the biggest home anyone had ever invited me to at that point in my life- with a tall-ceilinged entrance towering maybe twenty-five feet up. In the center of the grandiose foyer was a round table, topped with a gargantuan faux flower arrangement the size of a bean bag chair. A winding staircase worked its way up to a loft overlooking the front door. At the bottom of the staircase, where the banister curved in a decorative coil, was a white wood podium with a sizable bronze bust sitting on top. Maybe it was a little tacky, but it was the 90s.
This bust, this head was, um, a sculpture Michelangelo-ed of love: a very attractive young man with pouty lips, mesmeric eyes, and a flowing afro that rivaled Diana Ross in her heyday. Carved by someone with (probably) delicate hands and an eye for beauty, the bust seemed more befitting for a palace inhabited by African royalty, rather, than, say, someone's white grandpa in Westchester, New York. It was the first thing you saw when you entered the house and the last thing you saw before you left. But it wasn’t a Nigerian prince. It was my dad.
And now it's gross that I called it ‘attractive.’ My dad is very… Dad-like. About 5’8”, Jewish, perpetually rumpled, like… a dad. He might have had a bit more swagger in the 70s when this piece of art was commissioned, but it's relevant to point out that the artist may have had a bit of an imagination.
It was at a Thanksgiving dinner in high school where I was still, technically, legally, and physically not old enough to drink a bottle of wine but Maria, Grandpa’s wife is French and can pour a glass of Bordeaux in her sleep. So I was a little loose after dinner and made a snarky remark to Grandpa about the bronze man’s head living in his foyer.
“Oh,” his eyes lit up. He was very good at that. “You know the woman who made that?”
This is why you need to pay attention in Art History, I thought to myself, then you could have smart, adult conversations. This realization bothered me enough to sober up just slightly. Then I remembered that I'd never taken an art history class so I just shrugged. Grandpa's eyes continued twinkling as if they were on their own battery pack.
“Her name was Geet. And she very much wanted to sleep with me.”
If I wasn't mature enough to discuss a bronze sculpture, I certainly wasn't mature enough to discuss someone wanting to sleep with my father's father. I didn't want to think about someone I imagined much like Demi Moore in Ghost, with clay under her nails trying to get Grandpa Mick naked. I stood there, like a drunk deer in headlights before I realized my only option out of this situation was to run. I beelined it to the other cousins to stop Grandpa from continuing any further with this uncomfortable story and forgot about the interaction by Christmas because compartmentalizing is an underrated skill.
A few years later, my dad drove me to college in New York. We passed through the town where he grew up. Street names like Genessee Trail and Sunny Ridge Road pulled his thoughts down Memory Lane and he laughed before he spoke like he often does.
“You know that bust in grandpa’s house”
My stomach sank. One thing that could be more uncomfortable than discussing my grandpa’s sex life with my grandpa would be discussing it with my father. I tried to change the subject to the questionable late-night safety of the New York City subway system, but dad was somewhere else. I decided it was important to get one fact straight:
“You know that doesn’t look anything like you, right?”
Dad made a face. Which is fair.
“Well,” said my father, a twinkle in his eye much like Grandpa’s, “the artist who made that, totally wanted to sleep with me.”
I thought about jumping out of the moving car but decided that there were better places to end one’s existence than the Major Deegan Expressway, so I stayed put and tried to fill my brain with less disgusting thoughts, like what could happen to me on the New York City Subway at 2am. The ride continued uneventfully and I was reminded of When Harry Met Sally as we drove by Washington Square Park. Also, not to belabor the point, but, my dad, does, in fact, look a lot like Billy Crystal.
Four years after this car ride, having just graduated from college and unsure of all life decisions, I was as lost as a parachuter without gravity. Grandpa had passed and his youngest son, Jerome, said I might as well move out to the Westchester house with him for the summer since he had lots of space and I clearly didn’t seem to have a whole lot of options, which was mean but also super generous and true.
It was hands down, one of the top three greatest summers of my life. Jerome and I became siblings and had only one specific job directed at us: clean out all the stuff out of the house. Maria, his mother, had recently listed it and now we had to go through everything and make it look sellable and not like two twenty-somethings were throwing pool parties every weekend. We were easily distracted and did not excel at this one, seemingly simple, task. One time we spent an entire afternoon pulling the cardboard tubes off of metal hangers from the dry cleaners so we could recycle everything properly. Although environmentally responsible, were utterly useless.
One night in August, Maria was back, going through endless boxes that Jerome and I had accomplished at neglecting when we happened upon the bust. Feeling a certain closeness to Maria and wanting to make her laugh, I tried.
“Maria, I have a funny story about that bust.”
Maria looked at me like... how could she know? I froze with embarrassment. I'm very, very good at saying the wrong thing. I also deeply, deeply dislike confrontation. Crap. Maybe this was a touchy subject? Maybe that sculptor woman really was in love with Grandpa and I just dug up the past in some terrible way? Maybe I had offended her or maybe that was a family secret, and it was the Bordeaux talking that Thanksgiving and all of this should have been locked in some deep vault of family history, never to be discussed? Like that Thanksgiving so many years earlier, I decided to simply shrug.
Maria put down the faded towels she was folding and looked me right in the eye.
“Well, you know,” Maria said, pointedly, in her thick French accent, “The woman who made that, I think Geet was her name? “
“Oh, um, yeah? I don’t know, I may have heard of her,” I mumbled. I looked around for something to fold. There was packing newspaper. So I folded that. Maria gave me a quick glance as I worked on the Opinion section of The New York Times, like she knew that I had never taken an art history class.
"Well, you see, " Maria pursed her lips, looking around the room conspiratorially.
“She wanted to sleep with me.”