Oh...that's a...

 Scrotum.  That's right. It was a scrotum.  I debated telling this story or not, but the more I think about it, the funnier it is and I just have to.  Sorry Mom.  As promised, after several tangential posts, I will resume reporting about our trip to Boston in which we sip Saudi Arabian Lime Tea, escape a near death by butter incident, and yes, have an epic encounter with Scrota (that's plural if you don't spend much time writing about male genitalia as I previously had not).
 After a terrific but exhausting day hoofing it through Boston we ended up at our Airbnb hostess's lovely home in the suburbs of Boston.  Airbnb is great for many reasons, but the most rewarding thing about it is the new friends you make with diverse backgrounds.  Friends you probably wouldn't have made otherwise.  And the local advice ain't bad either.
 Shortly after we stowed our bag in their wall to wall library that served as a guestroom (awesome) we got to talking about Morocco and Moroccan food.  We found out that she was a trained chef and Moroccan food was one of her specialties.  She told us about this Moroccan cooking substance called "Smen" which is basically aged butter.  She pulled an old babyfood jar from the fridge with a label across it reading "Smen: 1997".  As she shared her dream of visiting the Berber tribes of Morocco high in the Atlas Mountains she cracked open the lid, releasing a whoof of agedness, and burnished a spoon.  She dug around in the container a bit and came out with a spoon of the white flaky substance. 
"I think I'd better try it before I give you some."  She said as she raised the spoon to her mouth and winked at us.  
I didn't know we were in line for tasting, and we would have done it, but the gastrointestinal angels were watching out for us.  She coughed a little, took some drinks of water, pulled the bottle away from her face to examine it from the inside and out, and then giggled "Wow.  It's a good thing I tried that first."  It was a rather strong batch of Smen evidently.  Maybe a little too aged.      
When we told our sweet hostess that we were thinking about a day trip to Salem she promptly called her friend to come over and give us the low down.  Both women are artists and the one had lived in Salem for sometime.  These two women spent about two hours telling us the ins and outs of what we should do and not to, eat and not eat the next day.  It was like they had nothing more important to do in the world.  It was very kind.  After dumping a box of maps and pamphlets on the table for us to peruse our hostess plucked a few shriveled limes from a two foot jar on the table marked Saudi Arabian Limes and put a kettle on the stove.  The tea was sweet but still citrusy - just boiled dried limes -no sugar.  Who know?  (The Arabs, that's who.  They are the kings of tea afterall)  The women, longtime friends, argued back and forth about which routes to take and which sights were worth it as we sipped tea late into the night. 
At about a quarter after midnight I shyly said "So, I understand the two of you are artists, I'd love to see your work if you have a minute."  
Despite the late hour they put on their boots and we tromped out to a large shed in the back where they both had studios.  It was wonderful to see their art and talk about process with real artists.  I forget how much work there is in art.  I know that sounds silly, but you get this idea that artists have a burst of creative genius, slap together a Starry Night and call it a day.  The truth is most artists work and work and work tirelessly to improve their skill and create something they are happy with.  
Our hostess's particular art was enormously scaled objects drawn in minute detail - flowers mostly.  We're talking 6 foot by 6 foot flower petals and 4 feet tall blades of grass.  All hand drawn, implementing various processing and transferring techniques.  They were just beautiful.  Just as we were about to leave she cocked her eyebrow and said "let me show you something."  
By this point we could tell that she was imminently good natured and perhaps she "had a we bit of the devil in her" as a Scottish friend of ours said about me once.  She pulled out three large sheets of drawing paper, three or four feet squared, and laid them on the studio floor.  Both of them looked at us with anticipation to see if we could tell what the super close up drawings revealed, a bit of a smile on our hostess's lips. 
I spoke first "Why, I think that's..."  
"Huh." Max added when he realized that the pictures were minutely detailed, extra enlarged scrotum.  
What does one say to that?  I like how you captured the realness of the subject?  What was your inspiration?  How in the world did you get that angle?  
I have to say we kept our cool pretty good and found a way to talk about the drawings without being 1) 6 years old or 2) hacks that acted like we 'got it'.
She actually said some pretty interesting things about the reception they got at an art exhibit on the Cape (that was eventually shut down for its obscenity).  She said that she watched people encounter the pieces and it was almost always women who recognized what they were before men did.  Go figure.  As her friends said "I guess we do have a different perspective of it then Men"
She also said something about the scale of the pieces and what she liked about this subject matter at this size "People will look at it for sometime and not know what it is.  When they figure it out they either laugh from embarrassment (check) or frown with disapproval.  Between the time people figure it out and have a reaction to it I think there is a great opportunity for them to be surprised by their own innocence."
Whether you buy that or not, it made for an interesting trip and has definitely sent us into giggles several times since.  


  1. I'll never think of a scrotum the same again :) he he

  2. This is hilarious. Just glad it was you and not me!

    Can I just tell you how excited I get when my little list of blogs I follow shows that you have a new post. Such a good part of my day. Thanks for letting me be part of your life still, even if it is just on-line!

  3. Oh no! That is too funny! At least now your trip to Boston will be all the more memorable for many, many, many years to come.

  4. Wow--so funny. I am way too immature. I think I have been teaching high school too long. I have reverted back to that mentality and I wouldn't have been able to keep it together. Hilarious!