“Art is about feeling,” the guide said to me, “not seeing. It's about how it makes you feel deep inside; under your skin, under the surface.”
We stood in front of the replica of David's statue in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Over fourteen replicas of David have been made in all different styles, textures, and sizes,” said the guide. This David was a gray stone, slightly rough to the touch, like cement. His fingers incredibly large, compared to the rest of his body, and his muscles pulled tight across his chest. I had an overwhelming desire to reach out and feel the ripples beneath my palm, but I held back and let my gaze wander downward instead.
A guilty smile formed on my face, first for the immaturity I felt at gazing at a stone penis, and second for enjoying the view. The marble locks of hair curled in a way that invited me closer and the ridge of his hips, the way they dented inward, perfectly toned remind me of a Ken doll; so inhuman. But the rest of him was nothing like a Ken doll because Ken doesn't have a penis. Always something that disconcerted me as a kid; it was too unreal. Maybe that's why as I gazed at the realistic sculpture it felt exaggerated and strange, causing me to feel as though I'm in fifth grade again, giggling along with the class every time Mr. Ingram said “penis” or “vagina” in sex ed. We grew up with Ken dolls with no penis and Barbies without any pubic hair. We didn't know what was realistic then, just as I don't feel I know what's realistic now. Large stone balls don't seem to be it.
The guide moved along to the next piece of art but I couldn't seem to pull my eyes from David's form. He sparked something within me, his sculpted details made me smile and I wasn't ready to leave him yet.
Hesitantly, I followed the museum guide through the shadowy halls, half-listening as she delivered her obviously rehearsed lines. We walked through different rooms with different art. Paintings, sketches, stills, and portraits hung in one room, and in another, random splotches of ink strewn across canvases were displayed. That is not art. Other rooms had porcelain vases and weaponry and tea sets. As the tour neared its end I became more convinced art was more of a joke to keep fancy scholars and depressed homebodies feeling important. I stopped pretending to enjoy the walk through. Art made no sense, and if something didn't make sense to me, I didn't see the point on wasting my time any longer. I yawned.
“Well,” the guide turned to me, “that's the end of it. Any questions?”
None you can answer. I shook my head. “Thanks for the tour.”
“Anytime,” she moved on, her shoes clicking lightly on the floor panels below her.
I stood in the entryway, the same room where we started. And there, in all his infinite glory stood the gray stone man and his limp yet precious sack. “Art is something you feel,” I repeated from the guide's spiel.
Later that night I thought about David's naked stone body, the way the muscles pulled and the hair curled. My hands dipped below the covers, past the two mounds atop my chest, past the belly ring I got three years ago, and stopped in between my legs. My breath came out short as I imagined the perfectly sculpted statue before me come to life; his large hands reaching under me, grabbing hold at the lower part of my back and lifting my hips to meet his mouth.
“Art, you appreciate. You respect,” the guide's voice cut through. Yes, I thought, yes. I see David look up from between my legs; a provocative smile peeking through as he slowly winks and brings his face to mine. His strong hands, rough to the touch, work like a man who knows what he is doing. I fall asleep, fingers stilled in the place they started and dream about my newfound exposition of art.