From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

So, what exactly would be the criminal category for lingering behind and taking up residence in the Metropolitan Museum of Art? I’ll go with criminal trespass till I learn otherwise. So – when I commit criminal trespass, should I blame Thomas Hoving, or E.L. Konigsburg? I recently finished False Impressions, and just finished From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, so I’m already making plans. Enough time has gone by since the publication of the book – 1967 – that the guards must have gotten out of the habit of checking the bathroom stalls quite so thoroughly, so there’s no reason I can’t use the same ruse to stay in the museum overnight. Let’s see … They say in the preface to the book that the fountain that used to be in the restaurant (which I believe has been moved) is now in Georgia, but there is one called the Pan Fountain – oh, and the reflecting pool around the Temple of Dendur, of course, of which seventy-five cents of the change in the water is mine anyway.

Oh, and in place of the fictional Angel of the book which may or may not have been “sculptured” by Michelangelo, there is Young Archer, which may or may not have been sculpted by Michelangelo. It’s karma.

I will run away – taking the train; I’ll pop for a taxi, and use the method Claudia and Jamie did to infiltrate and entrench myself into the museum. I don’t know about sleeping in one of the antique beds, though; that seems a little squicky. And fragile. (And why would it be made up with sheets and all?) There must be an employee lunch room or something, or an administrative office with a couch or something. I’ll figure it out.

So let’s see. I don’t have an instrument case like the kids who run away hid their socks and underwear in – but I have a pretty big pocketbook. And I don’t have to check it. Hm. The laptop is probably not viable; I could charge it, but unless they have WiFi – well, I could use the time to finish the book.

The Mixed-Up Files is wonderful. I may not (may not) go through with this plan, but it’s a really fun fantasy. It hit me hard because of all my reading about the Met lately – Hoving talks a lot about living with the art, about handling and having personal experience of it, and – – it’s just mean. It’s something I crave, and something I’ll never have (unless I implement Plan E.L. Konigsberg) – the idea of having the whole of the Met to myself for the better part of every day is … heady.  Especially the part shown on the cover of this edition – the Arms and Armor hall.  I love that place. 

 

Except for those pesky alarms and sensors and such. The sixties were such a sweetly innocent time. And the kids in this book are sweetly innocent, and so very smart; it’s a pleasure to be in on the planning and execution of such a great plan. The pen and ink illustrations in the edition I read were horrible – muddy, almost more inkblots than illustrations; they have to have been copies of copies of larger images. But the writing was great fun, despite the point of view of an adult added to a couple of years of watching Criminal Minds and Without a Trace making the kids’ parents’ terror a little more important to me than to the kids, but that’s okay. The detailed money calculations were … startling. I don’t know why I never read the book when I was a kid, but I’m glad I did now.

And I really, really want to go hang out with the Young Archer.

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