Up walked a thin, red-haired, older woman, arms crossed over her chest in a protective X. She eyed me through large square glasses. "Hopper's paintings could be Anywhere USA," she answered my question. "They certainly look like the buildings here. Maybe they remind us of home or our favorite drug store."
"You've probably run out at night to a drug store like this," I suggested.
The woman waved away my comment. "It's all CVS now," she bellowed. "You drive."
The museum guard--a portly fellow in his thirties, his face mashed into a sour, world-weary expression--insinuated himself into the conversation.
"This Hopper does make you feel like our city," he said. "It's very depressing. All his paintings are very depressing. That's what I like about them."
About Room in Brooklyn, he said, "The room's so neat, you know it has to be a rented room. She may be contemplating throwing herself out."
I said, "Her look out is a look in. She's looking across the street at buildings just like hers."
"She's unhappy," muttered the red-haired woman.
"No she's not," the guard grumbled.
"She's not unhappy?!" she asked incredulously.
The guard barked, "No. I was talking to him. She's not sitting in a building that's anything like those she's looking at. She is looking down on the others, so hers is taller. And her room has a bay window as opposed to the flat ones across the way. She's sitting in a building from the early twentieth century, looking at brownstones from the nineteenth. She's looking at the past."
"Well," the woman joked, jerking a thumb at the guard, "you found the right person for your research. He's smarter than both of us."
"No," said the guard, pointing to the painting. "He's smarter than all of us."