On this day in 1872, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its doors. I grew up, for the most part, in Cleveland, Ohio. And my family used to make the seven-hour drive to New York City pretty regularly. Or at least often enough that I learned to love art at the Met. Huh, if that’s not the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written, I’d like to avoid the one that takes top billing. Even if I turn my head sideways and squint while I read it, the one above makes me sound like an ass. But it’s true.

Well, maybe it’s not entirely true. In advance of one of our New York trips, my mother read me From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the story of a little girl, Claudia, and her younger brother, Jamie, who run away from home and live in the Met, where, after doing some excellent archival work in Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’s mixed-up files, they solve an extraordinary art history mystery involving a Michelangelo statue. After finishing the book, I decided that I would follow in Claudia’s and Jamie’s footsteps on our next trip to New York.

So, when we arrived at the Met, I snuck away from my parents, hid in one of the bathrooms for what seemed like a long time — I must have been six or seven when this happened — and waited for closing. At which point, following the book’s prescriptions, I would stand on a toilet to avoid detection when the night watchman came into the bathroom on his rounds. I would then have the run of the museum. I would take money from one of the wishing wells scattered around the building. I would survive on cafeteria food. Which, at the time, seemed like culinary heaven. Especially red jello with fake whipped cream on top. And I would solve an enduring mystery about some objet d’art of unknown provenance and become a hero.

But then I got bored and looked for my parents instead. Who were, as you might guess, both furious and thrilled to see me. So maybe E. L. Konigsburg taught me to love art. Not the Met. There, now I’m back to being a man of the people.