We were standing in a small semi-circle on the main lawn of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin home, taking in Wisconsin's glowing, emerald farmlands. As our tour guide launched her introduction, I turned to listen and a vivid flash caught my eye.
That can't be right, I thought. I looked closer at our matronly (forgive me) guide, appraising the billows of mossy corduroy and wool cloaking and camouflaging her shape.
She bent forward again, and there it revealed itself fully between her jacket and waistband: inches upon inches of shocking purple satin and lace, its sheen enhanced by the ripples and bunches typical of the voluminous underwear worn by women of a certain age or antipathy.
I swallowed my smile, disbelieving that no one else in the group caught sight of this defiant and deviant flag waving in a formless field of earth-tone fabrics.
Easily the youngest person in the group by thirty years, I glanced around at the paunchy couples in stout walking sneakers and windbreakers. No one looked scandalized or frankly even interested. Their heads swiveled in unison in different directions, taking in the sun, the stone, the marvel that was this inventive shrine of architectural ingenuity.
Oh, you're all such fucking liars, I thought, and openly stared at her kinky granny panties until we moved towards a sunken veranda.
Wright built Taliesin with full regard of its perpetual construction and inevitable decay, embracing the idea of it being as unfinishable and moribund as the rest of us. In this spirit, he built his home in congruence with the lush, rolling prairie hills of central Wisconsin, loosely sketching the low-slung,, symmetrical planes his protegés would spend decades assembling and repairing.
The house was a 75,000sf mandala, built to be destroyed and rebuilt without replication.
With paper booties over our shoes, we politely perched on his chairs, leaned admiringly over his drawing tables, and imagined him grunting his way through stodgy sex with his wife in their small, innocuous bed. (I assume.)
My inner voyeur was well-fed that day, as I openly observed the sanctum of a dead genius and the satin of an unassuming pervert. But there was no telling if Taliesin would be the most inspiring exhibit I would see in Wisconsin.
There was still a dairy expo to attend, after all.