A post on Facebook reminded me of this, but once upon a time, in a faraway land called Indiana, I was in a gifted class called STRETCH – Seeking to Reach Educated Children. I’m forgetting a word, probably because I’m dumb or don’t care. It was OK, on occasion I would go to another school and do smart kid things. Once we had to computer program, so I painstakingly designed the Batman logo and programmed the 60’s theme song. The logo was on the level of a Colecovision or Atari on a TV with a broken vacuum tube, but the song was so bad, my one year old son could get closer banging his Melissa and Doug keyboard with his fist.
One day, we had to draw a spaceship. There was an award on the line – Most Elaborate. Much like a Japanese game show that punishes the losers, there was also a Least Elaborate. Almost every student drew the stock “flying saucer” spaceship and none was more basic than Jessica’s. She had a saucer, pink and yellow, with a (surprise!) green alien sitting in it. The one thing she did have, though, was tremendous artistic ability and she drew EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER WITH BIG, ROUND, WHITE CARTOON EYES. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
I threw myself into my work. In elementary school, I had made my own comic books and wrote my own stories. I had a line of ancient warriors brought back from antiquity mixed with cybernetics that fought each other – samurais vs. ninjas, knights vs. barbarians. I for sure was the most creative one. I drew a C shaped attack drone, with a mini gun on one side and huge claw for extraction on the other (the flight dynamics were bad, yes, but Earth must be subdued at any cost). It would be black and red, with cables and red lights running all over it.
The votes were cast by the class and the tyranny of the mob prevailed, Jessica won and I was presented with the Least Elaborate Award. My classmates began to openly taunt and mock me while my teacher stood there like Joker, with a devious grin pasted upon her face. I began to stammer protestations – “Hers is just a standard flying saucer, what’s elaborate about that? The alien is green – there’s an original idea.” That only amplified the mockery. Finally overwhelmed, I grabbed my chair and desk (one and the same) and whipped them sideways into the chalkboard where my “Least Elaborate” award was pasted onto my drawing. I stormed out in a rage fit.
Looking back, the irony is that I was basically recreating something I saw here.
My drawing was probably about 70% like this, but one claw instead of two. So I kinda borrowed an idea for the Elaborate Bowl, 1990. That said, this incident still bothers me to a very unhealthy amount. If I ever run into Jessica, I’m going to tell her she only won because she put dumb cow eyes on everything and because she was, you know, a much better artist than me. If I see Ms. Bowen, the teacher, I will openly spit directly into her face, one or twelve times and tell her I went on the write a book, do stand-up comedy for over a decade and spit in her face another one or thirty-six times until my dry mouth makes me stop. Then I’ll toss her love seat into her TV for old times’ sake and move on with my life, like a normal, stable, sane person.
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