When Tizi and I argue about which of us is the most ignorant, I usually win.
Case in point, we’re walking home from a local grocery store early this afternoon. I’m carrying a plastic bag with a can of whipped cream inside. It’s going to come in handy later. She’s talking about the Futurists, a group of early 20th century Italian artists, and the Fascists. Yeah, those guys.
“The Futurists,” she says. “You know, Carrá. Fontana. De Chirico. Look up Marinetti when we get home.”
Currently she’s reading a book called Il Figlio del Secolo, a three-volume biography of Mussolini. It begins: “Affacciamo sulla Piazza del San Sepolcro. Cento persone scarse, tutti uomini che non contano niente.” Volume one is 826 pages. Tizi is avid about Fascism, not as a political movement she would espouse for the US. She just believes that most Americans totally misunderstand the term. I certainly misunderstand it. Currently I’m reading a book called Triggerfish Twist, a crime novel set in Florida. It begins: “My name is Edith Grabowski. I’m eighty-one years old, and I had sex last night.”
“Sure,” I tell her. “I know Futurists.”
The bag of whipped cream swings in my hand. Our two grandsons are coming over later. After dinner they’re going to take turns opening their mouths, which I will squirt full of whipped cream. I’ll have a squirt too. Tizi will decline.
“The,” Tizi says. “The Futurists. And you’re just saying that.”
She says, “That exhibit we saw in Ravenna. Remember?”
I remember Ravenna. I remember a museum. But I’m thinking: First whipped cream, then a bowl of ice cream, then more whipped cream. It’s great fun. I tell her I remember that exhibit, that it was pretty wild stuff. I feel like I have to say something about the Futurists.
“You have no idea, do you.”
“No, but I can imagine. How would the Fascists have responded to experimental and abstract art?”
“I’m sure they embraced it.”
“Didn’t the Germans hate abstract art? They thought it was decadent.”
She says that she doesn’t know. She says she’s ignorant about the German Fascists’ attitude about art.
“Well,” I say, “I’m more ignorant than you are.”
“No you’re not.”
“Yes I am.”
“No you’re not.”
“I’m glad I asked for a plastic bag,” I say. “If I was holding this can of whipped cream in my hand, it would be warm by the time we got home.”
She shakes her head.
“Way more ignorant,” I say.