Oh, the weather outside was most certainly frightful, but at last I'm home, and snug and drinking cocoa out of a bowl, and in retrospect the fire also was delightful. I spent the long weekend in a little condominium in Vermont with some friends; it was odd because I was the only one who skied, even though we'd gone out of our way to rent this condo that was literally ten yards from the foot of Mount Snow. While I skied, the rest of them sat around in the livingroom in their jammies listening to disco hits and occasionally running outside to pour maple syrup on the snow and see if it turned into candy. It didn't.
But I had a wonderful time skiing, even though my fingers were awfully cold. I went up to the summit and it was like a fairyland, or a sentimental novel about New England: the whole ride up I was surrounded by the furry, misty, brown-and-white mountains that spread themselves all over the countryside, underneath a sky that was laced with silver-blue clouds; beneath me I could see pine after snowy pine, looking as if they had been stolen from a Christmastime model-train-set; and at the glacial, unforgiving summit all the trees were glazed thickly with ice, like diamonds. At one point I was skiiing through a ridiculous grove of glittering trees, with great shafts of sunlight coming through them, and if I were the sort of woman to fall down on my knees I would have.
Anyway there was of course a blizzard & we were of course stuck drinking cocoa in front of the fire and reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Russian, or at least pretending to read it.
After much trouble I was able to book passage on a southbound train, and when I finally boarded I found I was in a car with a gaggle of sixteen-year-old snowboarders. I had written them off as rowdy and irritating, and settled into my seat to listen nostalgically to Liz Phair and draw pictures of ladies in my pocket notebook, when the tousled-haired lad sitting across the aisle piped up with some comment.
I took off my headphones. "What?" I said, expecting an insult.
"That's really good," he said.
"What is?" I said, thinking he had probably heard Liz Phair talking about jumping when you circle the cherry through the headphones, and was making fun.
"Your drawing," he said, sweetly. "Do you do that for a living?"
I laughed and told him I was a cultural anthropologist, and said thank you, and put my headphones back on. But half an hour later he spoke again.
"You might think this is really weird," he said, "but do you think you could do a picture for me?"
"A picture of what?" I said.
"Anything that comes to mind," he said. "Can you do landscapes?"
"Not really," I said. Just do anything, then, he said. But I was adamant that he had to pick it, because I'm not going to draw a goose with the head of a woman and a six-breasted dancing girl for the sixteen-year-old snowboarder. We went through the list of things he liked: snowboarding -- could I draw a snowboarder? Hockey. Mountains. The Grateful Dead.
"I can't draw any of those things," I said.
"What about planets? I like space," he said.
"Okay, I'll draw you a picture of space," I said. So I opened my book and drew four or five little planets, some with rings and some with Jupiter-style swirls and some pitted with asteroidy craters, and I drew a spangly comet and a bunch of five-pointed stars, and then I thought it looked boring so I added a tiny spaceship with two engines and three-pointed flames coming out of each engine. I had to do a test drawing of the spaceship on another piece of paper, because the only spaceship I'd ever drawn before was an X-wing, and that was only because this guy I was dating drew the X-wing for me and made me copy it, because we were bored and waiting for a bus or something. But I drew the spaceship, and I think it was pretty cute, actually. I made sure to do lots of cool-looking stippling and shading on the planets, so that they looked textured and comic-bookey. When I was satisfied that there were enough heavenly bodies on the page, I applied myself to coloring all the negative space in the entire postcard-sized composition black, using only a fine-tipped rollerball pen. This was extremely difficult & took about half an hour, but it was also extremely satisfying. I did that thing you did when you colored stuff in as a kid, where you created little swaths and shapes to fill in to make the task seem more manageable, and it was incredibly fun.
Of course, the whole time I was thinking that it was odd that the Deadhead snowboarder wanted a picture at all. I mean, little kids want pictures all the time (on a Eurostar I once drew a self-portrait for a trilingual five-year-old who wanted "a lady, like you") but teenagers only speak to older people in order to deride and humiliate them. I was half-certain that I would look up from my careful inking to find that someone had made off with my wallet, or that I would hand the picture over only to have the kid show his friends how corny it was. Still, it was something to pass the time, and when it was finished, the kid said, "Wow, thanks! This is exactly what I wanted!" and bounded off to show it to his other friends, who pronounced it "cool."
Then we talked about the economy and Canada and hockey and where his sister went to college, and we had a nice time. I think maybe he wanted the picture because he was a little stoned -- smoking pot has led me to exchange manicures for slices of pie from three-year-old girls, after all -- but he didn't seem that stoned, really. I think he was just a kid who wanted a picture of space. Weird.Posted by anonymousblonde at février 21, 2003 02:02 PM