Artfeel Blog

A contemporary interactive arts experience based on public art in The Woodlands

Wet Wipes

Posted May 4, 2018

Artist: Dan Skaggs
Underwriters: The Shedden Family

​ When I first visited the "Umbrella Tree" art bench by the Riva Row Boathouse I sat under it and wished I had a real umbrella to shield me from the blistering sun. It was 99 degrees already today at 9:00am and I was sweating before my exercise walk even began. This reminded me of a time in my life when I was always sweaty and annoyed before my work day would begin in Manhattan in the late 1990's.

​ For 12 years I worked in the film and television industry in New York City. I was a young creative executive climbing the ranks working downtown at Broadway & 17th street on the top floor in an incredible workspace that Andy Warhol once occupied and overlooked Union Square Park. I loved the building. I loved the company. I loved my job. And I loved my colleagues most of whom were gorgeously dressed and exceptionally good looking gay men. What I didn't love was my daily commute to and from work.

​ I was newly married to my husband, Darren, and we lived in a picturesque town on Long Island called Sea Cliff. Although, technically Sea Cliff and Manhattan were only 28 miles apart, it took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to drive between the two spots because of the horrendous traffic and road work. Worse, by train and subway, it took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to make my daily commute from sleepy, sweet Sea Cliff to the electric dog-eat-dog world of New York City. And depending on the train you caught: express or a local—it could take even longer with all the stops along the way.

​ Summers in New York are hot and humid—just like Texas. The difference is in Texas you don't ride around on hot trains and subways with strangers pressed tight together like sardines in a tin can without fully functioning air conditioning.

​ August and Septermber were the worst months. The smells of the train and subway were putrid in the intense heat and I'd pray to the weather gods each day for a cool breeze and a seat on the train or subway. I wished for a seat not because I wanted to rest my legs, but to minimize the possible placement of my face in a strangers armpit. See, when you don't get a seat on the train or subway you have to stand the whole ride and your body is pressed up against a stranger's body. The trains and subways have these little strap like loops that hang down from the ceiling for you to hold on to as you rock back and forth as the cars bullet through tunnels to your destination. If you are short like me, you end up with your face in a normal height person's armpit. It's most unpleasant.

​ I looked decent, put together leaving my house, but after almost 2 hours of communting in such an inhuman way I arrived to work looking like I had used a machete to cut a path through thick jungle brush just to make it to my cubby. My colleagues, on the other hand, mostly lived in Manhattan. While I commuted they slept in and walked only a quick bit to work looking fabulous.

​ One day, I saw a woman changing her baby's diaper on the train a few stops before mine. And I had a lightbulb moment – Wet Wipes.

​ That night I bought a package of Wet Wipes at my local pharmacy.

​ I woke up early the next day. I put my hair up in a bun, grabbed my makeup bag and hairbrush and put them in my purse. Then I pulled out 4 Wet Wipes from the soft, plastic pack. I waved them in the air in front of me. Oh, they smelled so clean and fresh. I placed one in ech of my bra cups and one in each armpit. I relaxed into this feeling of Wet Wipes wonder. As I traveled this morning by car to train station, by train station to subway station to Union Square Park for my quick walk to work I had no fear—as I knew my Wet Wipes would take care of any hot and sweaty business. Wet Wipes I proclaimed to myself were my new best friends.

​ Everthing seemed to be going my way this morning too. I got a seat on both the train and subways (so no armpit hell for me! Yay). The commute seemed to speed by. I arrived at Union Square and quickly made it to the office restroom and layed out my supplies on the counter. Ceremoniously, I started to remove each Wet Wipes from my bra cups and armpits. I already felt so cool and clean. Like a little portable shower. Oh, I was so pleased with myself…it worked. I actually arrived feeling fresh and fit as a fiddle…until I looked in the mirror…

​ …and saw that the water in the Wet Wipes had seeped through my cotton bra and made 2 giant wet rings stains on my green blouse and 2 more ring stains under each armpit. OH MY GOSH! What fresh hell is this?

​ This was the morning I had a 9:00am company meeting. I was panicked. No stores were open to quickly run out to and buy a new blouse and there was no time anyway. Folks were already getting set up in the big conference room.

​ I raced out of the bathroom into the nearby showroom area and borrowed a t-shirt from the sample display area. The only one that was close to my size was a thin, red shirt that said "Hot Stuff" across it and featured a drawing of the impish Harvey Comics red devil holding a pitchfork. I took off the Wet Wipes stained blouse and my wet bra underneath and squeezed into this too tight sample shirt and dashed into the meeting. And there I stood in a too tight casual t-shirt paired with a dressy skirt, pantyhose and heels. My hair was still in a bun and I had not yet done my makeup. My whole Wet Wipes plan had backfired. And although my shirt read "Hot Stuff" I felt anything…but as an impeccably dressed handsome colleague with a big heart pushed a coffee cake slice to me with a look of sympathy.

Have you ever visited the "Umbrella Tree" art bench? If so, how did it make you feel? What did you do when you were there? Did seeing this art bring up any memories or thoughts or ideas for you? Does it remind you of something? Someone? Does it make you think about something or someone in a new way? Did you experience a sudden rush of thoughts that were connected to other thoughts or experience disparate thoughts and emotions?

Texas Commission on the Arts
National Endowement for the Arts

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The Woodlands Arts Council

The Woodlands Arts Council | (TWAC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
http://thewoodlandsartscouncil.org/