Home > Uncategorized > Talking Van Gogh on the Bike With A Stranger

Talking Van Gogh on the Bike With A Stranger

“You know about Van Gogh, right?”

If I’d been asked to wager as to the question that was going to be posed to me at that moment, then I would’ve lost.  The question came not from a friend or even an acquaintance but a complete and total stranger.  I was leaning against my bike in front of a convenience store, taking a break from my ride, while I stuffed the last bits of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into my mouth.  Van Gogh was the furthest thing from my mind.  I was more concerned about this stranger, a bulky six-two guy, who now stood in front of me.

I hadn’t planned on being on this road or at this convenience store.  My original route had involved taking a turn a few miles back and heading toward Alvarado, but the road I’d wanted to turn on was closed for construction.  Instead, I’d continued on FM 917 through Lillian.  Before before approached, I was calculating a new route so that I could get in the necessary miles for that day.  I’d chosen this convenience store because it was the first one I’d seen in about forty-five minutes.

Why had this guy approached me and why did he want to talk Van Gogh?  Having no idea what this guy was talking about, knowing very little about Van Gogh (other than he was a famous painter), and my dry mouth now full of peanut butter, I said, “No.”  I guess I could’ve said, “Yes,” but I figured he had a story and I was his audience.

He launched into Van Gogh’s life story, his ambitions, and even his death.  “Most people believe Van Gogh committed suicide, but he didn’t.  A couple of teenagers shot him in the stomach, but he didn’t want them to be blamed for the shooting.  So he took the gun and told them to leave.  He later died from that gunshot wound.”

“Hmm,” I answered, nodding my head, waiting for the point of the story.  It never came.  As soon as he’d finished his story, he went inside and bought a stack of lottery tickets.  I saw him scratching out his numbers on a table while I paid for my water and Gatorade.

As for the veracity of the Van Gogh story, I looked it up on Wikipedia later and learned that this was the thesis of a recent biography on Van Gogh.

But why did this gentleman feel the need to tell me this story?  I was sitting on my bike covered in sweat and grime on a country road outside of Lillian, Texas.  I don’t think I looked the part of an art historian at that particular moment.

And I still don’t know the point of him telling me this story.

On the other hand, I was forced to take a detour onto this road and stopped at a place that I’d never planned on.  I didn’t get up that morning expecting to get a history lesson on Van Gogh by a stranger that I’ll never see again while on a morning bike ride.   Sometimes, the detours of life can be pretty entertaining, once we get over being sent off in a different direction.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 15, 2012 at 9:38 am

    How random!
    (I can totally hear your “Hmmm” reply…..you say that to me a lot when I’m talking nonsense. LOL.)

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