Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Misadventures and Exploits: Or, the King Tut Mummy who wasn’t.

“Wanna go with a homeschool group to see the King Tut exhibit?”

“Yes! it’s the last time he’ll be on display in North America!” (Which I think is weird, by the way. If you’re going to go to the trouble to preserve someone, shouldn’t they be displayed all over the place for longer? All this “last time” stuff seems to hint at shoddy mummification, if you ask me)

That’s how it started. A discounted ticket rate and a couple weeks later, I found myself speeding toward Seattle on a Friday morning after work. Speeding in the best sense, of course. Entirely within the legal parameters…. Since the exhibit would include free entry to the rest of the science center, and more especially the butterfly house, I jumped (inwardly. I refrain at all times from outward displays of untoward emotion. Mostly. On occasion) at the opportunity to see it with the nieces and nephew, hoping to see joy in their childish eyes as they beheld butterflies and cool displays of water power. I think, though, that they were more interested in the sandwiches that got brought with. Every few minutes inside the exhibit, one or the other would pipe up with “We go now?” “Mo more!” or something along those lines.

Getting there was rather an adventure. I’d never “done” seattle driving by myself. So, I googled some directions, and tossed aside my mother’s warning about “Mercer madness!” Turns out there was construction on Mercer, confusing me to the point of downing three shots of espresso posthaste and wailing into my steering wheel about being lost in the great metropolis. By some miracle (And not by any help from the angry people who yelled and gestured at me for merely turning my blinker on), I found the same parking garage that my sister had installed her car in, and gamely turned in, not caring what it cost me to get off these one way streets. And here I find another problem with Seattle. The arrows in their parking garages are faint. Barely there, in fact. It seems to me that if they are going to make a road or path ONE WAY, they should go to extra trouble to plaster signs about it all over the place. But nope, no such luck. I realized I was going the wrong way in this dratted parking garage at the same time the valet did. He started waving at me and saying (in a rather thick accent), “Mem, you’re going de wrrrong vay!” I knew that. I did. I just hadn’t had a chance to fix it yet! So I roll down my window and half-weep out that “I KNOW! Can I turn around here?” “No, no, too hard.” Clearly the man read the despair in my face and had pity, because he moved the car directly in front of me out of the way so I could park there. Bless. His. Heart. People with keys to all the vehicles really come in handy sometimes. So, I pull in, and realize he’s disappeared. I wait. And wait. Call my sister to assure her I’ve made it into the big scary city, and wait some more. Aha! He reappears. I get out to ask him what to do next and he sighs and says, “Just pay me.” Umm…. That’s not something I’m likely to do. But he produced a magical little valet parking ticket and handed it to me, and I promptly turned over the first bill I found in my purse. I find my sister, only because she’s on the phone saying things like, “Are you on 2nd ave? Going uphill? Do you see that Bus? Follow it.” We make it inside, and prepare to enter the Egyptian lair.

But before I go on… Here’s the thing about museums. Or at least museums in America. You just never know if it’s real. I have this vague paranoia that what I’m seeing in American museums is not legitimate. They probably slip a million replicas in there without stating it. Then, they put up a glass case with, say, the little golden pharaoh-shaped sarcophagus that at one point held the Boy King’s theoretical mummified extracted stomach in it, and I believe that it really did come out of a tomb somewhere in Egypt. But the unlabeled statue of a standing King nepher-shepsut-hammeha-kemud-something or other just doesn’t convince me. Replica? Probably. But they don’t TELL you that! Then you go through the rest of the hushed, dimly lit rooms wondering if you are being duped into believing that you’ve seen the secrets of the Nile… or a plaster sphinx suit that some teenage intern carved. And even now, he’s watching, giggling behind his work worn hand, while you “ooh” and “aah” over a plaster coated styrofoam pharaoh face that’s barely a year old. When I was tramping across Trafalgar Square, about to enter the National Gallery, I had very little doubt that the Picasso painting I would see was really and truly painted by Pablo. Oh my, clearly that “Fruit Dish, Bottle, and Violin” came from the hand of that man himself. And oddly enough, it is a neat experience. When I was in the British Museum agog at the Rosetta Stone, thinking about all the incredible linguistic ramifications of its discovery, I never once thought it was a replica. Could it have been? Yes. The English could have just been pulling a fast one with a more genteel accent. (Speaking of which, have you ever noticed that when cultured British accents state facts, it’s much more believable? Why is that?) So maybe I believed that what I saw in the British Museum was real merely because I read the labels in a refined accent in my head.

However, the jewelry room of the King Tut exhibit seemed rather legit to me. Obviously jewelry is a partiality of mine, and after seeing what the Egyptian wanna-be-deities were wearing back in the day, I am dying to hit up Fuego and Forever 21 to see what I can pull off in this century that looks like it came from that century.

But here is my main problem with that day. The exhibit is called “King Tut.” The stuff that you see came (possibly) from the tomb of “King Tut.” So clearly you believe that you will at some point see “King Tut.” (Or at least the mummified remains, which have now been tested and x-rayed enough to render them practically radioactive) But here’s the thing. He is not there. He. Is. Not. There. I kept going around corners, wondering if “this will be the one.” And it never was. I wasn’t really convinced until I got to the end of the exhibit, past the “no re-entry” sign, and saw a (you guessed it) replica of the remains. And there you have it. My advice to you? Go online, google image search for Egyptian Pharaoh jewelry, and look at pictures to your heart’s content. You’ll save yourself some traumatic driving, a parking cost, and the pressure of wondering if everything you’re seeing is fake or not. I felt rather hoodwinked, and next time I go to a museum, it won’t be in America.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lately. (The photo-catch-up)

Though my camera goes with me everywhere, I often forget to take the pictures off the camera, and do that camera-computer-blog transfer that is SO important. The last several months have been busy and sometimes fun, so it turns out that I have lots of pictures that have never seen the light of day, as it were. Not from any particular event, just the ones that are jumping out of my computer.
The next post will be Whitney's wedding, then after that... the last two weeks that I haven't even looked at yet!