The Last Drop

April 7, 2011

I was in Manhattan once, just walking around as I remember, which is something I like to do. I decided I wanted to see the Met, and got there about 4:45 I think, and found that they closed at 6:00. It was something like $20 to get in, and it occurred to me $20 for an hour of museum viewing was not a good value, but I asked myself, “When will I be here again and have this chance?” I’m not a very practical person.

I entered and amongst some Rembrandts I saw this painting, by Frans Hals, a painter of the same time and place.

It’s titled “Boy with a Lute”. The description was that he is pouring out the glass to show there is not a drop left to even wet his fingernail.

It was explained the painting is meant to illustrate, and would have been understood by people of that time, as illustrating the fleeting nature of pleasure. The wine is gone; the musician has finished playing.

Pleasure is indeed fleeting, practically be definition. But does that make it any less meaningful, or enjoyable? The truth is life has few and fleeting moments of pleasure, and we should appreciate them all the more.

I was thinking of this painting one evening in Colombia. I had met a woman and gone out in the country with her, and after quite an adventure of rural bus rides we ended up at a bar and restaurant in La Calera, a hamlet overlooking Bogota. The view was spectacular; to take the chill off the evening (Bogota is around 8700 feet and always chilly) we had a few glasses of hot wine.

There was a singer performing; a guy named Tony from Buenos Aires. I requested “Little Pal”, explaining to him it was this song and not “My Way” that was the true anthem of the American mafioso. (According to something I read in the Wall Street Journal many years ago anyway.) He didn’t know it; nor did he seem to know much English, his trick for performing seemed to be he had an MP3 player with a bunch of songs on it, and would find the song requested and listen to it in his earphones and sing along. I asked for “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” instead, and that he had.

So it was a fun and interesting day, and evening. I saw, did, and experienced things not many people do. The pleasure was fleeting but beautiful nonetheless.