As Egypt Does

Dear J-

We went to the Rosicrucian Museum yesterday, which is a collection of Egyptian artifacts arranged without chronological order, more lumped into rough thematic elements and left in cases to gawp at without too much context other than those things look kinda like each other. There’s a couple of mummies (the kids asked, with wonder, if those were real people at one point and yeah, I had to say yes), several replicas (King Tutankhamun’s coffin! The Rosetta Stone!) all housed in a big Egyptian temple-esque building across from a junior high school, complete with fountains and fanciful visions of culture appropriate to the time it was built (the 1960s), reminding me a bit of China as filtered through chinoiserie.

While we were there killing a bit of time in the shade by one of the larger fountains another group came up and started sitting on a sphinx, which was clearly marked ‘do not’. My mom, who is not one to leave things alone, immediately told them to stop in the same untactful way I remember from when I was little (“hey … hey, stop. Can’t you read? The sign?”) and I’m sure made them as embarrassed as I felt at that moment, while I was telling her it was probably okay (they weren’t climbing on it or trying to ride it). Indeed, she muttered to herself and me after they’d left how nosy she was bing. Still, though, one of the group sketched a mocking bow at us and I could hear the faint strains of ching-chong coming from them, which was accompanied by a little laughter.

I feel bad that their day was marred by being scolded, but I feel worse that I didn’t do more in the teachable moment; that was a response designed to enflame and aggravate the situation, so perhaps it was best to walk away from it. I still get hot under the collar thinking about it, though. No one likes being criticized but even a passing couple pointed out the sign which said no climbing on the statues (and I was policing the kids already to not do so), and c’mon, there are rules for a reason. Grow up and take it, even if it sounds harsher in my mom’s broken English.

Mike

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