On Saturday at noon, just as President Bush was announcing his proposed 700 billion dollar Wall Street bailout package, Jeanette and I were setting up our folding chairs in the parking lot of the Dunkin Donuts in Kingston, New York to view the American Experiment firsthand.
Across the street, the McDonald’s customers were arriving in their Hummers and Expeditions. A bright banner proclaimed the new offering: “Angus Chipotle BBQ Bacon Burgers.”
The yellow sign with movable letters said “WIZARD OF OZ & LEGO HARPY MEALS ARE HERE.” I looked again, and it really said “HARPY.” I guess the signmakers ran out of “P’s.” Perhaps they were also unaware of the winged monsters from Greek mythology who punished King Phineas by stealing food out of his mouth just as he was about to eat from the banquet table.
I took a little time to work out my pencil drawing first, knowing that watercolor is unforgiving. I started painting on the right side of the composition, concentrating on the white car. I guessed it would only stay for 15 minutes while the owner was dining inside. In fact, he emerged after only 12 minutes.
The man stood beside his car with a cigarette and a cellphone in one hand and a soda cup in the other while waiting for his son to come out of the “Playplace.” The Playplace—the glassed-in structure at right in the picture—is a two-story playground retrofit from the 1990s. Kids can slide around through large intestine-like plastic tubes while digesting their cheeseburgers.
The son arrived as the man finished his Coke, his cigarette, and his telephone conversation. “Get your butt in the car,” the man said.