Now that you've got this art stuff nailed down, time to go to the museum and try it out on the plebes.

Get there early, or whenever off-peak is. You want to see art, not the back of someone's head. Also remember to wear comfortable shoes -- you could easily walk a couple of miles in a large museum. Oh yeah, and print this out and take it with you.

Here's what to do when standing in front of a work of art:

  • Stand in the right place - it's different for each work, so stand in a few different places to see what works best.

  • Don't stand where the lights make a glare on the painting. If you see people crouched on the floor peering up, join them in trying to find that glare-free spot. It'll prove that you really are analyzing the painting instead of looking at it.

  • Don't lean over the ropes; if you get too close to the art, the security guards might toss you out of the museum (or into the East River, in the case of more valuable works). And no matter what you do, NEVER touch the art unless a sign specifically says you can. It's a museum, not a petting zoo.

  • Spend at least 2 minutes standing still and deeply looking at each painting. Nothing will ever jump out at you and yell at you to look at it; you'll have to use your brain to recognize the elements we've described above.

  • Take a pair of binoculars. It sounds ridiculous, but museums with special "for a limited time only" displays can get very crowded. Sometimes you can get a better close view by standing back and looking through binoculars than you can by trying to wrestle your way to the front of a flock of schoolkids.

  • Don't waste time in front of mediocre works. Even in the best museums not everything is great. If it doesn't grab you, keep going. If someone asks you why you don't like the painting, just say something cryptic like, "The artist obviously didn't take a stance on the subject's emotional state. Thus, the emotional plateau of the painting is muddled." Nobody will care enough to ask you to elaborate.

  • Don't get too analytical right away; check your gut before your head. You might surprise yourself.

  • Above all, remember to enjoy it. While faking supreme knowledge of art is fun, it's useless unless you derive pleasure from it too.

So that's it. If you commit this article to memory and recite it out loud (or just read it aloud from the printout) the next time you go to a museum, you'll be an intellectual god. People from around the world will fly you to Paris, Rome and Barcelona to walk them through museums and share your special knowledge with them. Or they might just squint at you, call you a showoff, take you out back and kick your ass. But as you lie there bleeding in the alley, you can close your swelling black eyes and rest secure in the knowledge that YES, YOU APPRECIATE ART. Maybe you'll be able to teach the paramedics a thing or two.