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The night was winding down -- the last of the drinkers huddled around Catherine for the remaining alcohol. The eccentric old ladies had traipsed to another event, I'm sure, because who wants to go to bed when there's art to be seen? Two techies were left, one-upping each other with examples of how their equipment excelled in various situations.

We left without seeing the work in neighboring galleries but returned a few days later (it's easier to see art without an opening-night crowd standing in the way). At the gallery three doors down, a piece on the wall caught my eye. I've seen art before, even some that I liked, but never had I wanted to buy anything. I stared at the square board. It was covered with tea-stained pages of Braille, and in the center was a large vertical rectangle composed of words -- cut out of a novel and placed, hundreds of them, every which way. These words, forming the rectangle, disappeared at the top into a horizontal black cloud. At that moment, I fell in love with art for the first time.

I bought the piece, even though it was out of my price range. Handing over my credit card, I thought of how my father would blanch if he knew what I was spending on something so impractical. Once, he fell in love with a piece of art -- a vase sculpted by my friend Gabe -- but he couldn't bring his frugal side (98 percent of him) to justify the price. I ended up giving it to him for his birthday and, as I expected, he was delighted to have it. Looking at my art, I wondered, does this make me a gallerygoer? If so, which kind? I considered the free drinks but decided that drinkers are too tacky. No, I thought, as I reflected on the outfits I wear to openings -- feathers, fur, vibrant reds, and jewelry from museum gift shops. I'm definitely an eccentric old lady. Now I need to find the perfect brooch.

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