Archive for August 2006

August 27th, 2006

Tardy Over Here

You know those people who are always late? Those people who hold everyone else up, waiting for them, like they have so many other important things to do? Those people who waltz in 20 minutes after they were supposed to, like it’s no big deal, causing you to want to strangle them?

Apparently I am one of those people. I think it’s slowly driving my fiance insane. Evidently she’s from a group of people who are always first to arrive. The Witchgers? We are punctually-challenged people.

Based on some recent observations I’ve made, I believe there are two reasons for this:

1) Witchgers are easily sidetracked.

We can be headed out the door when something will distract us. All of the sudden we’ll forget…where…we…. “Distracted.” That’s a funny word, isn’t it? What do you suppose it’s origins are? I’m going to head over to Google right now and find out….

Of course, I’m not going to Google right now and that was lame. No, I’m more likely on my way to predictablegags.com to find some more jokes like that last paragraph…. Ok, I did stop writing to open a new tab and see if there was such a thing as “predictablegags.com.” I just made that up, of course, but you never know. An entire site devoted to overdone, hackneyed jokes? Can you imagine? I bet one or two other readers have already left to check it out too. And currently they are finding that…there is no such site. Sorry to ruin it for those of you who are still here, but half my readership is already gone and I’ll be damned if I’m going to lose you.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Distraction. It’s not just the need to search for websites that, if there is any hope for humanity, do not exist that gets us either. It could just be something shiny. Or something that makes lots of sudden movements.

Also figuring things out — especially, for me, in the area of music. I can have my hand on the doorknob, needing only to turn it and be on my way to a meeting with someone, when a song will kick off on the stereo. Not one specific song, but a certain song that I’ve been wondering about the chord progression to. At that point knowing the chords to this song is all that matters to me. I’ll throw my bag down, pick up my guitar, and sit down in front of the speakers. “Chances are it will only take a minute or two,” I’ll think. “Then I’ll know those chords.”

Fast forward to me sitting there, eyes closed, in the middle of playing through all the songs I know, temporarily unaware that I was supposed be somewhere half an hour ago.

I have a problem.

Especially when you combine this and the fact that….

2) Witchgers underestimate how much time things will take.

For rock-solid proof of this, ask my dad how long you’ll need to complete a home improvement project. “How long will it take us to replace these brake pads?” you might ask him.

“We’ll have it done in 20 minutes,” Dad will say with certainty. 20 minutes seems a little far-fetched. Of course, if the tools are actually where they are supposed to be, we were actually sold the correct parts, and we actually don’t discover a far more serious problem than worn brake pads when we take the wheel off whichever old beater it is we’re working on, 20 minutes is possible. Just keep in mind, this is an exponential thing.

“How long will it take us to tear the old deck off the side of the house and build an entirely new one?” you should then ask.

“We’ll have it done in two hours,” Dad will reply.

You: “How about tearing the old deck off the side of the house and building a fully enclosed room addition where the deck was?”

Dad: “Two hours, fifteen minutes.”

You: “Building an entirely new house with an entirely new deck attached to its side?”

Dad: “Two and a half hours.”

My biggest underestimation problem is in the area of travel time. With Steph’s help, I have finally stopped regarding the time we need to be some place, as the time when we should get in the car and back out of the driveway. This is a big step for me. One I’m really proud of. Of course we still get to everything ten minutes late. Always ten minutes late.

And you can go ahead and say it. “Leave ten minutes earlier!” Just let that common sense advice right out. We get to use common sense so infrequently these days, I bet it feels good.

Would you believe I’ve been trying that? And I swear it does not seem to matter. I could leave ten days earlier and I’d still get to my destination ten minutes late. I guess this would involve getting sucked into a wormhole of some kind, which seems pretty unlikely. Still if that’s what it took for me to be late, that’s what would happen. I’d get sucked into a wormhole. A wormhole with backed-up traffic in it.

Perhaps, as a Witchger, I am predestined to be late. It’s the way it’s always been. If we missed the bus, we rarely got to school before class started. We arrived behind schedule for lessons, club meetings, social gatherings. We were late for church every Sunday…. It sometimes seems like my childhood was just a series of attempts to slip, unnoticed, into the backs of rooms where an event had already started.

Still, I am trying to change. I am working on this punctuality thing, not just with my personal appointments, but also in regards to getting the updates I write up in a timely fashion. That’s about it for now, except to say that I hope everyone is having a wonderful midspring day, here in this month of April.

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August 13th, 2006

Making Faces

“It’s intair-esting to watch you two werk,” the intoxicated, middle-aged woman said to me, as Jason and I furiously dashed off funny-looking (but not too funny-looking) likenesses of the next jittery, high-on-staying-up-late kid or the next wobbly, taking-full-advantage-of-the-open-bar adult.

God, I think she’s flirting with me….

She was standing to my left, uncomfortably close to me, watching as I scrawled on the pad with the scribbly, nervous line I use when I have to draw fast. I saw her look over at Jason, who can take a Sharpie and get someone down with a couple of bold, direct lines.

She leaned in to make sure she had my attention: “Looks like yer a million-stroke man,” she said, and then, turning to Jason, “while yer friend here can git the job dun in a just few moves.”

Ew.

Welcome to the wacky world of party caricature. While in college, my friend Jason and I did some of this to make money. Every once in a while we still get calls to do something back in Greenville and, usually, we do it. We’ve done dogs and their owners for the past two years at the “Canine Crawl.” Also, there’s a Jewish family that has been very good to us, wanting us back for every bar/bat mitzvah. Recently we did their youngest child’s — our last one for them.

Doing these on-the-spot drawings can be fun. It can also be agonizing. Sometimes a likeness just won’t come and you want to start the drawing over, but you’ve been drawing for five whole minutes and the person is getting impatient. And of course there are 10 more people behind them, waiting on you. It’s a bad spot to be in. You have no idea if your sketch is going to come together. You wonder if, when the person sees their drawing, they’ll call you out for being hack you are, in front of everyone. Will they yell at you? Tell you you don’t know how to draw?

And there are so many distractions: people trying to joke with you, asking you how long you’ve been doing this, or, in certain, very weird cases, trying to pick you up.

Incidentally, Mrs. Robinson had gone over to stand by Jason, then, after a few minutes, disappeared in to the crowd. I’d gone back to concentrating on the caricatures, which were getting worse. I had nailed the first 20 or so, but I could feel myself heading into a slump. Thankfully it was all little kids lined up in front of me. You can phone those in. Little kids are happy just to get a drawing, they don’t seem to care what it looks li…. Wait…. Oh no. She’s coming back over. Oh no. I just made eye contact with her. Oh no. She’s getting in line in front of me . What have I done to deserve this!?!

If there is a special section of hell where evil party caricaturists are forced to continue their work, the line in front of them stretches on for eternity, their drawings never turn out like they want them to, and the only subjects are women aged 45 and up. As far as I’m concerned, there is no good way to handle this cross-section of the population. I don’t know a single woman-of-a-certain-age who’s up for some good-natured raillery about her crow’s feet and extra chins, do you? But what are you supposed to do? Make them look 20? Then the portrait won’t look anything thing like them.

Most members of this demographic seems aware of the position they’d be putting you in, and they steer clear of your table.

But not this lady. She was ready to find out exactly what I thought she looked like. She took the seat across from me. It seemed insurmountable, I mean not only was I dealing with the aging thing, but it was obvious this person was insecure about her appearance and that she was going to tell me exactly what she thought of me and my drawing once I was done.

Come on, Witchger, you’ve been doing this your whole life. Let that art school training take over. Just draw….

Ten minutes later I ripped the marker and “colorstik” covered paper from my pad and presented it to her. She looked at it for a few seconds, then she grimaced. She proceeded to give me the same schpeel everyone who disapproves of their portrait gives me, verbatim: “Um…. Hmm…. Does this look like me…!?! How long have you been drawing…? Maybe you should keep practicing….”

But It’s cool. I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to my artwork.

Also, she was right. I’m not sure if it was somehow purposeful or not, but I had handed her one of the worst drawings I’ve ever done in my life.

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