Mona Lisa's Eyes

Larry Peery

[The following was originally written as a letter from Larry to Manus. - Ed.]


I want to begin by telling you a true story.

Sometime back in mid-1993, or was in 1989, because it could have been either; or perhaps it was both: I was writing an article for a zine and in it I made a reference to the painting of the Mona Lisa. As I was writing an image of the Mona Lisa flashed into my head, just as it probably did when you read that name a nanosecond ago. For some reason a question popped into my mind, "What color eyes does the Mona Lisa have?"

It wasn't an earth-shaking question, but it continued to bug me.

I looked in my art books, but they couldn't tell me. I called the Library and talked to the art librarian. She said she would get back to me on that one.

A few hours later she did. "I looked at eighteen different fotos of the Mona Lisa," she said, "but not one of them clearly indicates the color of her eyes. I'm sorry, we can't help you." She was clearly embarassed.

"No problem," I said, "I've been looking for an excuse to go to Paris, anyway."

And so I went off to Euro DipCon l.

I did get to the Louvre and I did see the Fair Lady (for the second time, actually). Ironically, even standing in front of the portrait you couldn't tell what color her eyes were. It's actually quite a small painting.

It was a quiet, weekday morning, no big crowds, although the Mona Lisa always attracts a crowd. The whole room will be empty, but there are always a half-dozen or so people gazing on her gentle face.

But for once, I had her to myself. I did what anyone would do. I leaned forward, across the guard rope, and peered (!) more closely through the bullet-proof glass that covers the painting. I guess I peered a bit too much because all of a sudden the alarms went off. I had crossed the invisible death-ray guarding her.

Within ten seconds I was surrounded by guards. Obviously, the question was "What are you doing?" I produced my passport, my press ID, and, much to his embarassment, my host, who just happened to be a member of the French President's personal security detail. Much French (not mine) and much hand-waving (not mine) and (I did get this much) , "He's a very important American Diplomat."

I explained, as best I could, that I was just trying to determine the color of her eyes. I asked the guards, et al. "What color are they?" Puzzled looks, head-shaking, raised eyes, shrugged shoulders, and "'eh?" Was the response. More French flew across the by now rapidly growing group in front of the Mona Lisa.

Finally, a curator was called. He looked just like what you would expect a curator in the Lourve to look like. Depardieu he was not. But he listened to the guards, and my host, and looked at me, and smiled. "Good question," he said in excellent English, "let's look." He reached into his pocket, fiddled with something, and then moved the rope aside.

Cheek by cheek we moved closer to her. No alarm. Finally, perhaps six inches from the glass, we stopped. We both peered.

"Brown." he said.
"Hazel." I said.
"Brown!" he said, a bit more firmly.
"Hazel!!" I insisted.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because. My mother had exactly the same colored eyes and she said her eyes were hazel, just like her name; and that was why they named her Hazel." "I see," he said. "Well, two beautiful women must be right. They are hazel."

So, although I didn't play very well in the European Diplomacy Championship event, I did capture the Mona Lisa. Beats the hell out of any black dot I ever captured..

Please accept the above as any one of the following:
1) A thank-you note for the first two issues of TDP
2) A submission for a future issue.
3) A sample of my writing, as part of a solicitation to become one of your contributors (for further references you may check with Conrad Minshall or Cal White. Both know me).
4) A random act of Peeriblah as part of my 30th anniversary in the Diplomacy hobby.
5) All of the above.

I recall some time ago you, or one of your people, sent me a query about TDP. I replied, saying that if you published a couple of issues, I would review your efforts and let you know what I thought.

I have seen a small part of what you have done. Only a small part because my modem is very slow and it would take forever, and cost an arm and a leg, to download and print all of your stuff. Pity, because I would like to see more.

But that will have to wait until we get a faster modem.

In the meantime there are things going on here that may be of interest to your readers.

First, the WWPDC. This is a seven game tournament in team style with some 60 participants from 10 countries. The teams represent the United States, Austria, France, Italy, Sweden, the Commonwealth, and a motley international collection. It is just getting going. About 25 of the participants are on The Net.

Second, I am in the process of trying to organize a meeting on The Net of international hobbyists interested in setting up an international Diplomacy organization of somekind to assume responsibility for the World Diplomacy Con, among other things. I could use some help on that one.

Third, I probably know as much about the international Diplomacy hobby as anyone.

What else? Peeriblah, I suppose. However, if you want me to help I will revive my original zine title for a column for you. That was XENOGOGIC, first published on 1 May, 1967, as a Diplomacy zine, and first published as a column back in mid-1963.
[A piece entitled XENOGOGIC appears in this issue. -Ed.]

When we finish up-grading our systems here I will be glad to make somekind of contribution to your effort. Right now I'm trying to catch up with the rest of you.

Regards, good luck, and much success.

Larry Peery

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