Today we are throwing it back in a few different ways to a few different places.
Throwback Thursday Stories is a segment I used to do on my blog which, as the name suggests, included a “throwback” story that I posted on Thursdays. (We like to keep it literal over here.)
On top of that, the story I’m posting today was one of the very first I ever had published. The website, In the Powder Room—which unfortunately is no longer active ☹—was actually responsible for both of my first ever publications (the other was about the first time I did a juice cleanse which you can read here) and the friendly editors that helped me prepare my post were the first people to ever make me feel like a real writer.
And on top of that, I figured since school has started back up for a lot of people, why not re-share one of the most—uh, unexpected first days I ever had?
It’s a win win win as far as I’m concerned.
(Except for past Kim, she’s still a little shaken up.)
There I was on the first day of my second semester art class. While completely ashamed of my lack of artistic ability, I was just as determined to improve as I was the previous semester. I walked into room 68 and found a spot near the front just as my teacher clapped her hands together to get our attention.
“We’re going to dive right in this morning. No use wasting any of this precious time. Let’s just keep it loose and have fun today.”
I nodded, smiled, and quickly began to search my bag for my pencil box, silently pondering what we’d be drawing.
As I propped up my drawing pad, a man took the stage my teacher had vacated and I saw him nod to the class before I flipped open the front cover to reveal my first blank page.
Now, the actual fall time of the front cover behind my seat was probably around a second or two, if that, but due to its likeness to a curtain on Broadway, the descent seemed to last a lifetime.
Beginning with its peak height—which completely blocked my view of the stage—the cover fell slowly, carefully revealing what I was sketching inch by inch. First I saw the man’s head. His eyes were gazing away from me, towards the door in the back left corner of the room. Then I saw his chest, now bare, and his arms laden with goosebumps. Then I saw his…WAIT, WHAT?! The cover hit the back of the chair and I sat, stunned and still amongst my classmates, unaware of what to do. I started again with his head, sure I’d had some kind of pornographic stroke. I again moved down his chest and arms until I again found his…
WHAT KIND OF CLASS IS THIS?!
I looked around, desperate to find someone in the same amount of shock. And while I saw a few of my classmates wincing as they sketched, making a conscious effort to keep their eyes up, no one seemed to completely object to our subject.
“If you are uncomfortable, or feel it will use too much of your time, please feel free to draw fig leaves in the place of genitalia. And if the time comes that you do feel comfortable, challenge yourself to complete full body sketches.”
I’m a modest person. I knew the day would never come when I’d find myself adding drop shadows to a stranger’s anaconda, so after class I assigned myself five hours hard research on the anatomy of a fig leaf.
Much to my surprise however, intricate knowledge of this greenery would do me no favors as the parade of peckers continued throughout the semester. I failed to take into account the variety of sizes and shapes that would take the stage, and I neglected to consider the impact the model’s pose would have on the angle at which gravity would…umm…pull.
Not to mention, despite my thorough research, there were times my fig leaves failed to appear, well, leaf-ish. For example, one afternoon I sketched a man that appeared to be squatting on a burning bush, and later that week, I drew a gentleman whose crotch had seemingly sprouted a snowflake.
To make up for the blunders down under, I decided to start drawing the models’ facial features. I reasoned that if I was forcing my teacher to grade a drawing of a man giving birth to a pineapple, the least I could do was give her a face to sympathize with.
This however, did not go well.
Turns out, if you are as tremendously terrible as I am, a butt chin can look a lot like what is hidden behind a fig leaf, and facial hair can look a lot like what keeps it warm in the winter.
As the semester drew on, it was clear that I was never going improve; however, I did grow more comfortable with being told to stare at a man I’d never met as he pointed both up and down at the same time. I even went back and forth on the idea of taking that next step with my colored pencils, and attempting a schlong sketch. What did I have to lose?
Ultimately however, I talked myself out of it. I concluded that any attempt I made would not only be pitiful, but also insulting. Picture a kid trying to explain a drawing of their family to their teacher in preschool. Now picture me explaining why I’ve added a pre-explosion Hindenburg blimp between the legs of Bob from Torrance to my college professor.
On the upside, I did eventually perfect that fig leaf.