Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Patience in the Art Department

The can is red with white. It sits on my desk now, holding scissors, glues, and scotch tape. Scotch Buy, it reads, CHUNKY PEANUT BUTTER, the REAL flavor of peanuts, SAFEWAY—good quality, thrifty value, 6 lb. 14 oz. The can was used to hold stubs and sections of crayons when I was a girl. I remember digging through the colored wax up to my forearm, searching for carnation pink, goldenrod, or brick red. I loved the smell of my hand after fishing through there. Crayola perfume.

I wasn’t gifted in art. I remember the desperate, erased pencil lines as I tried to sketch the face of Roald Dahl for a book report in 5th grade. I looked to his photograph, to my page, photograph, page, photograph, page. Why was it not working? His chin was melting, and I didn’t know what to do about his right nostril. I had thought drawing from a photograph would be simple, even fun. I thought including a sketch would get me a better grade. And I thought it would look something like Mr. Dahl.

Much later, years later, my golfing boyfriend Sam decided he would run for Student Body Vice President. “I need a slogan, I need to make flyers,” he said to me as we sat on the flower couch in my living room. We knew a play on his last name was the direction he should go. “Don’t get stuck next year, vote for Plummer!” was born shortly after, and thus began what would become a long life of creating terrible—and sometimes good—ideas together. I told him I could draw up some possibilities for a flyer. “You can draw?” he looked at me like I was speaking Latin. I grabbed a pencil with no more eraser left, one of my mom’s 87 yellow notepads she kept around, and drew a cartoon person’s head and shoulders at the bottom of the page. Then I stuck a plunger on the head, and extended the handle off the top right corner. I drew surprised eyes, and an oval mouth. I drew on ears and a nose, hair coming our from under the plunger. I wrote the words of the slogan next to the plunger handle. DON’T GET STUCK NEXT YEAR – VOTE FOR PLUMMER!

Sam smiled.

I loved making him smile.

He didn’t win.


Anchely said...

He did win -- he got you! (And let's pause to acknowledge that, back in its heyday, that crayon can held almost seven pounds of peanut butter. Seven pounds! I remember when we used to open one of those babies and we'd have to mix the oil back into the peanut butter with a wooden spoon, up and down, up and down, like we were churning butter ... or plunging a drain...)

Jennie La said...

I love this vignette. It says so much and is just, just loverly. I can picture every detail.