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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

Shut The Front Door!

Stuart Sheldon, Wisdom is Knowing When to Shut the Fuck Up, acrylic, oil crayon and paper on canvas, 36"x36", 2007

I waited alone to be seated in a Thai restaurant on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall. In front of me a beefy frat boy and his pom-pom girlfriend touched one another like kittens. I was 29 and bummed to be without a date on Valentine’s Day. My romantic dinner for one was to include pad thai and a frosty Singha with my nose in Hemingway’s Islands In The Stream. But I was OK with it.

Until, out of nowhere, the big lug turned to me and said, “No date for Valentines Day, huh?” I looked behind me to see who on earth he could possibly be addressing. There was only me. To her credit, his date hit him on the arm, as if to say what I was thinking – That’s exactly right. And aren’t you a flaming asshole. 

Fast forward a dozen years. I sat barefoot on the wooden step stool in my Sausalito art studio wearing a splattered white oxford and painted encrusted jeans. No longer scratching for V-Day dates, I stroked my dark stubble and flipped through an Esquire magazine in search of the perfect cap for the piece before me – an unfinished three-foot square collage on which four large dark blue elephants marched across an off-white canvas.

My eyes lit when I chanced upon a great interview with the original Batman, Adam West, still dashing at seventy-five. The very last question was, “What have you learned?” to which he answered brilliantly, “Wisdom is knowing when to shut the fuck up.”

Holy F-Bombs, Batman!

I tend to talk too much and fill quiet space with unneeded commentary. Ironically, in my childhood home, my mother hung a poster which for years said, “It is often a fine command of language to say nothing.”

I admire those who convey much in few words. And know when not to speak. The writers and painters who show instead of tell.

Of course, The Caped Crusader was spot on. His superhero phrase became the title of the painting, which (I had to chuckle) a friend of Jodi’s bought as a birthday gift for her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

While I’m all for good silence, I’d love to hear from you. Share your own superhero wisdom and leave a comment.

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