The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Learning to become serene and scholarly

There is a part of me that would love to be like the Queen Mother, or perhaps the Dowager Countess of Grantham. There is never any doubt these women are beautifully schooled in the finer things. That fantasy is regularly torn to shreds by my inability to sit still, wear gloves or be even occasionally demure. It also takes a beating if anyone wants to discuss art or fine music.

However, this week I took a giant step closer to my goal, thanks to a lovely friend who already has the education of a countess, and is occasionally willing to bring me to court. I am sitting up a bit straighter in my chair today, with a somewhat more intelligent look on my face, because last night I attended my first salon.

It was at Balboa Park’s Timken Museum of Art, surrounding its current display of a Raphael painting, “The Madonna of the Pinks.” I got to hear a true Raphael expert, who was like the best professor you ever had in college. You know, the one who made a possibly dry and dull subject sparkle with their knowledge and enthusiasm. I hung on her every word as she brought Raphael, his art studio, his bad-boy apprentices and his era to life. I finished the night feeling ever so well-schooled.

I sipped prosecco surrounded by true art afficionados and absorbed an evening of educated questions and observations in a way I would never have done when a grade-point average was at stake.

It was the sort of evening that sends you off with delicious new information and wanting to know more. It might even prompt a visit to the library to pore over reference tomes about the Renaissance. More likely, though, I will Google it. Either way, the great masters continue to enlighten even borderline Philistines like me.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer doing her best to sit still and become serene and scholarly. Contact her at [email protected].