I’ve never met Ike, but I just painted his portrait. His owner had heard me on a radio show and decided to drop me a line. It felt strangely backwards, because the order and payment came through before I knew anything about him or his dog. So much of the virtual world is this way; you get fragments out of order, then assemble them with whatever adhesive/logic you’ve got.

I got an email notification about a $200 order. I wrote to the attached address, asking for photos of the pet, then waited. I received a message asking how to proceed. He had not seen my query. I texted him to check his inbox. This kind of broken telephone thing happens all the time. People get used to one technology and forget about others, so a lot of communication is wasted on communicating, on setting the venue and terms. Makes me think of the Tower of Babel, languages being generated all the time that drive us further apart.

Once we iron all that out, things proceed smoothly. I like finding out how my work gets on people’s radar. The guy tells me he used to hear me on Nick Digilio’s radio show. Nick was a friend I made when I was driving cab. His late-night show kept me company while I worked. He was fired sometime last year. Ike’s dad and I commiserated about how Nick’s show was one of the very few reasons to tune into that radio station.

I used to listen to the radio all the time when I drove. Since I quit driving, I hardly ever do. I listen to podcasts and music, but never live radio, except for baseball games. For some reason, that medium is tied to automobiles for me. Rarely occurs to me as an option at home.

Turns out Ike lives a few blocks away. So when the portrait is finished, I walk it over. Sometimes when I deliver a pet portrait, I get to meet its subject. But I don’t get to meet Ike. Maybe when it gets warmer I’ll see him getting walked in the neighborhood.