This is part 2 of a series of articles. Part 1 is here.
After a tragic encounter with the principal over the contents of my Super-Villain collection, I was forced to enroll in the weekly art class. As you’ll recall, my school was a hoity-toity place that never failed an opportunity to stuff its students with “leadership qualities” and “innovative thinking”. And apparently, this art class was supposed to instill this “innovation” into me.
I was very scared of the art class as I entered the room where it was being held. I had repeatedly tried to convince the principal that I was not meant for art class, but he didn’t want hear it. I even pointed out to him that I can barely write legibly, how was I going to draw and paint? He considered that argument for a second, but went back to his insistence that I attend the class. So here I was. In art class.
The teacher entered the class. Now most teachers came into class with some heavy-duty textbook, but this teacher walked in with a bowl of fruits. Oh yay! I love fruits! Especially Apples.
Good Morning, class”, she said in an enthusiastic voice. “Today, we’re going to be doing a still life painting of this bowl of fruits!”
Bummer. We wouldn’t be eating apples after all.
“Do we have to draw all of the fruits or just the ones we like?”, I asked, innocently enough, because there were like 8 or 10 fruits in the bowl. Amid some giggles from my fellow art-class students, something surprising happened. The teacher also laughed a little. Well, this was strange. Teachers would usually give me angry looks, but this teacher was actually laughing. Something strange was going on.
“You can draw whatever you want!” she said. Strange instructions coming from a teacher.
And so I started drawing. I obviously started with the Apple, you know, because I like Apples.
You know how there are some moments in life where you do something for the first time, and you instantly recognize that you have a natural talent for it? You just do such a good job the very first time that it just blows everyone away, and changes the course of your very life?
That did not happen to me. As expected, I was just as terrible at drawing as I was at writing cursive. And my drawing looked less of an apple and more of a monster truck. And the more I tried to make it look like an apple, the more like a monster truck it looked. The rest of the class just flew by, with my monster truck looking absolutely nothing like an Apple.
And finally, the dreaded time came when all the students had to share their art. The other kids were quite good – Nearly all had managed to draw all the fruits. For one instant, I got jealous and tried to mentally accuse all of them of copying, and it immediately occurred to me that we were, in fact, supposed to copy. Damn, no way to feel self-righteous either. And so, my turn came to show off what I had achieved for the last 30 minutes.
I turned around my drawing sheet, so that the whole class could see it. There were a lot of puzzled faces.
“I decided to draw not just the apple, but the whole apple tree.” I was hoping that everyone would see a tree in the random lines that were etched on the drawing sheet. But it was clear no one was buying it, so I continued.
“But then, a farmer cut off the tree, and made a wooden tractor out of it…” everyone seems to be following what I’m saying, but I’m not sure where I’m going with this story “…and then, when he was quietly driving down the village road, suddenly, out of nowhere, BAM! The Transformers come out. Megatron kidnaps the tractor, but by that time, the apple-tree-tractor has developed super powers…”
The rest of the kids seem to be intently listening to my story, but the strange thing is that teacher is too…
“…and eventually, The Apple-Tree-Tractor succeeds to the Throne of Ereqin. However, in the parallel universe, the king of the jungle fruits, Banana-Man, is secretly holding a grudge…”
And on and on I went for the next 10 minutes, telling more and more convoluted stories about the super-heroes of the fruit kingdom.
Usually, at this point, I’m standing outside the principal’s office, trying to explain why the teacher kicked me out of class yet again, but not here. The art-teacher seemed to be enjoying my story, and even asked questions about why the Apple-Tree-Tractor didn’t use the nuclear codes against the super-villain Mirage. At the end of it all, she even said “Good Job!”, which is really strange, but it felt nice.
And so, week after week, I’d go to the art-class, create some rubbish drawings that barely resembled what the art text-book had, but told elaborate back-stories of the drawings, and the teacher seemed to be encouraging me to tell these elaborate stories. At the end of the year, even though my drawings were nothing to be proud of, I got an “A” in the subject, with the comment “Great visual story-teller!”.
Best Class Ever!