… on life imitating art
February 23, 2015
There’s more snow on the driveway.
Ya, I know.
Doesn’t it look all sweet and fresh and, oh, I dunno…
Pure as the driven snow?
You know what?
There is just only so much purity one person can take.
I have decided my immediate living vicinity is beginning to look like an elementary school diorama project.
You know, the one where you needed a shoebox and put a whole bunch of stuff in it to create a 3D scene?
That’s how my front yard looks.
Are you telling me this doesn’t look like toy trees stuck in fake snow?
So back to dioramas.
Just the thought of a diorama project gives me a hive.
Example from my real life:
When I was eight or nine years old, my third grade teacher Mrs. Santos was reading parts of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to the class. I don’t even think we were reading the book itself, because I remember those great-smelling, blue-ink mimeograph sheets being passed out, and we were sniffing them, and probably high. But I’m pretty sure the assignment was to re-create the whitewashing-the-fence scene, as a diorama, and come in with it the next day.
Mrs. Santos suggesting we use a shoe box was enough to make me sweat, as it was a little hard to lay my hands on a shoe box in a house where we very rarely purchased, you know, shoes.
Plus, Paul Grace sat next to me and Paul Grace was an asshole and his parents always helped him with his projects and they were always just perfect.
The pressure for success was astronomical.
So I went home and began to search for the ‘ingredients’ for my project.
When I asked for a shoe box, my mother eyed me with great suspicion before informing me that she had no such thing.
After that, I was on my own.
I took off through the house.
Now, in my defense, my house – the whole thing – was probably about 900 square feet (if that) so why my mother did not check on me sooner is beyond me.
What you are about to read is totally her fault.
My first stop?
Items collected for diorama project usage:
- Strange pink, plastic needle looking things (I later found out those were to hold the hair roller things in my mother’s hair, and that you cannot actually use your rollers without them and how was I supposed to know that?)
- Green jelly stuff called Dippity-do
- Hair highlighter kit
- Baby powder
- A strange-looking sleeve of baby aspirin. Before this day, I had only seen them in a bottle, but these were in a pretty pink plastic container with little blue butterflies on it. Cool.
My mother’s bedroom.
- My sisters and my baby books (yes, the important ones that mothers document stuff in about their kids, so they can keep those memories alive. Like, forever.)
- My mother’s wig box (so what if it was round, it was the only ‘box’ I could find). I left the wig behind.
Why the baby books?
Well, Mrs. Santos told us we should cut out pictures from magazines and put them on cardboard tabs that we could cut out of toilet paper tubes, and we didn’t have magazines at home, but we had the pictures of the little kids from the pages of our baby books.
I had to return to the bathroom for a toilet paper roll. There were no empty rolls, so I took a full one.
All that stuff, safety scissors, scotch tape stolen from the kitchen drawer, and a box of eight carefully maintained Crayolas – all of it – went into the middle of my floor and I went to work.
By the time I was done, the whole ‘whitewashing the fence’ scene from Tom Sawyer was sitting on the desk in my room.
I had used wads of toilet paper madly scotch taped into… well, wads… to keep the round box from rolling around. And I used the chewy center – per Mrs. Santos’ directions – to cut out ‘supports’ for my characters.
But first I had to make the fence.
Luckily, in a failed experiment, I found out that hair dye mixed with Dippity-do does not make glue. It also smells bad.
But it is white.
So I used it to finger paint the strange pink plastic pin looking pieces, which I used for pickets for my fence.
Then I went to work on my characters.
Ben Rogers was cut lovingly from my baby book. He was a naked baby boy in a straw hat, carrying a beach bucket and shovel.
Tom Sawyer was sort of lying down, leaning against my whitewashed “fence”. He was cut out of one of my Little Golden Books about Lassie. The only issue was that ‘Tom’ had been fishing when he was ‘Jeff’ in my Lassie book. I fixed that by using the Dippity-do/hair dye mixture to ‘white out’ his fishing pole.
My baby book and several other Golden Books were treasure troves for everything from Aunt Polly’s house to trees, bushes, and flowers. I was in dioramic heaven.
And then my mother came to see what I was doing.
I got in huge… and I mean huge – trouble when she spied my ‘ingredients’, and realized that most of what I was using was either ‘hers’ or rather important to her.
But she did, in the end, allow me to take it to school the next day.
I placed it next to Paul Grace’s paltry excuse for a three-dimensional scene, and when Mrs. Santos was ready, I stood beside my work with pride.
I do remember her stopping at mine and looking closely at it, and deeply into it. She looked puzzled at first, and then nodded and smiled.
I got an ‘A’.
Paul Grace got an ‘A’…
And when I got home I told my mother that I got an ‘A’ and that was when she looked at my diorama, closely, for the very first time.
And then I really got yelled at.
Because who knew that the baby aspirin container with the butterflies on it, that I had carefully taken from the bathroom just the day before, was actually…
My mother’s birth control pill container which, in a stunningly creative tour de force, I had scotch taped to the rear of my diorama to give Aunt Polly’s garden just the realism it was looking for, butterflies and all.
As is the fact that I feel like I am now living in my own life-sized diorama.
And I can’t even see my fences, let alone white wash them!
Thanks for readin’.
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