Dear Tell All: I recently visited Olbrich Gardens, and in the Bolz Conservatory a young man and woman walked around enjoying the sights and touching everything - the plants, I mean. They obviously didn't read the sign (or heed its advice if they did read it) that says not to touch the plants. People don't seem to understand what damage they can do to things by constantly touching them. When I see someone touching something they shouldn't and I work up the nerve, I very politely ask them to refrain from touching and inform them that it can damage objects. This is usually met with a look of disbelief or awkwardness.
Anyone who has visited the Milwaukee Art Museum and viewed the sculpture titled "Janitor" by Duane Hanson can see what damage curious hands can do. It's also evident in the magnificent Thai Pavilion in Olbrich Gardens. Years ago, I saw a large group of people standing in front of the orangutan enclosure at Henry Vilas Zoo, pounding on the glass and laughing. The orangutan inside ran around the enclosure, obviously distressed. Thankfully, the front of the enclosure is now roped off to prevent this from happening again.
So why am I writing this? I'm hoping you will share it with your readers and encourage them, as I have heard many a parent say, to "Touch it with your eyes." Learn to enjoy things without touching them so they may be around for others to enjoy. Also, remember that the entire world is not interactive. If there are signs, please read them and follow their advice. I find that adults need to hear this just as much as children.
Dear Touchy: Thank you for the thoughtful letter. I couldn't have said it better myself. For those of you who aren't familiar with the janitor sculpture, he's been felt up by so many visitors over the years that his clothing has frayed and pieces of his hair have broken off. People have even gone so far as to steal his wristwatch, pens and pipe.
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