How about that time we argued about whether or not I was backhandedly calling you stupid? Do you fucking remember that, you bitch? I want to lay it all out for you, step by step, since this way you can’t interrupt me. We had had a wonderful day, a truly wonderful day. Nothing but restaurants and museums in the beautiful city of Chicago, back when I had all that money and we’d eat steak and waffles every day. You remember how good things were back then? Anyway, we’d come back to your apartment after mimicking Ferris Bueller for hours and I asked aloud, “What do you figure the long-term effects of the brain are from in taking massive quantities of art, in person, all day?” You didn’t say much at all, so I tried to elucidate the matter. Perhaps that is every man’s mistake; the drive for elucidation. I said, “I know when I read all day, I can feel my brain getting bigger and bigger, I notice my vocabulary expand; when I read Machiavelli I can feel greater understanding when I watch the news, and when I read Hemingway, I can sense a greater knowledge of love. But when I just look at beautiful paintings all day, whether they be Hopper or Van Gogh, it doesn’t seem obvious to me what I gain. I know I must be gaining something, though, and regardless, I certainly like it, but how does it expand my brain?”

For what it’s worth (presumably nothing), I still have no answer to this open-ended question. I still love museums, I still love art, and I still have no idea what benefit it incurs upon my mind; I’m just certain that there is a benefit.

And for what it’s worth (presumably nothing), I still have no fucking idea why I was an asshole for asking this question. You were mad though, real fucking mad; remember? As near as I can tell, you broke things down this way:

  • “My boyfriend reads more, and I look at art more.”
  • “My boyfriend thinks that reading makes you smarter, but looking at art doesn’t.”
  • “My boyfriend is effectively saying he is smarter than me.”
  • “My boyfriend is slyly trying to tell me not to waste so much time on art blogs.”
  • “My boyfriend must think my writing sucks because it is so influenced by art.”
  • “My boyfriend cannot be allowed to get away with this.”
  • “My boyfriend will be punished by this huge fit I am about to throw.”

Is that what happened? I think it is…for the record, though, I was just fucking curious about the long-term effects of mass art consumption. You always thought I thought your writing sucked, and that was true, but you thought I thought it sucked way more than I ever actually thought it sucked. Anyway, I honestly think our relationship never quite bounced back from that fight. But I wasn’t calling you stupid. I know I made you feel stupid. I make everybody feel stupid, though; it is just a thing that I do seemingly inherently and people resent me for it. I guess I’ll know that somebody really loves me when they don’t let themselves feel stupid by the things that I say. I guess you didn’t turn out to be that person, huh?


“Stupid” is an excerpt from Richard Power’s new memoir, Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.