Construction paper


My son's homework.

When I was in grade school, we used construction paper for just about every art project. I’m reminded about this because my son Adam was working on a school project and was coloring white sheets of paper with a purple marker. If he would have asked me for advice, I would have brought out an aging pad of construction paper that I’ve had for years (mainly because my sons never think of using construction paper) in order to speed up his project. Could it be that because he’s been trained to do many homework assignments on the computer he no longer thinks of using his dear old dad’s techniques? On the plus side, he has become very independent and he is intelligent enough not to need my help for his homework very often.

When I was in grade school at Holy Cross, art class was a very special time of day. If a student misbehaved, he or she was deprived of participating in art class and would have to sit in the corner with his head placed down in his or her folded arms for the duration of art class. And take it from me, that was no fun at all.

Okay, okay, I was deprived of art class one time or two or three, but I was framed! Each and every time! When we had art class, we always–I do mean always always–started with one sheet of construction paper. Usually, it was manila-colored, but for those special art projects we could get several sheets of construction paper–each a different color!

I remember one class, Sister Francine told us told us to hold the sheet of construction paper–I can still smell it!–vertically. Meaning standing up and not lying down. She even showed us the sheet of construction paper in the upright position from the front of the classroom and then she walked between every aisle between all the desks to ensure that every third grader in the class had the construction paper in the correct position. I was certain that the health and wellbeing of every American citizen depended upon our completing our art project successfully because Sister Francine’s face reddened every time she observed a student with the construction paper in the wrong position.

Finally, every student had the paper vertically in front of them on the desk, including Claudia who sat next to me. Sister Francine then instructed us to fold the paper vertically, from left to right. Not from right to left, but left to right. She repeated several times, in such a stern voice that I thought I would crack from the tension that was building up in the classroom. But lo, I correctly folded my sheet of construction paper in half vertically, as instructed, and I even passed Sister Francine’s eagle-eyed inspection. I was spared her wrath for the moment. However, she turned to Claudia and Sister Francine blew a gasket! Claudia had folded her construction paper–not vertically–but horizontally! Widthwise instead of lengthwise! Much to Claudia’s embarrassment, Sister Francine led her up to the front of the classroom to show her construction paper folded horizontally. She was the only student who could not–no would dare to defy a direct order from Sister Francine–follow instructions.

I don’t even remember what art project we did that day, but I do remember how badly Claudia felt. Now that I think of it, why did I like art class so much?

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Bathroom graffiti


C'est une pipe

I have seen a lot of graffiti in public bathrooms over the years. Normally, I try to avoid public bathrooms altogether, but sometimes, nature calls at the most inopportune moments. I’ve used a lot of public restrooms over the years. Let’s just say that I’m a regular guy. Since I’m a voracious reader, I even read the graffiti while I’m sitting there. I remember a few gems more so than others.

I still remember, “Kilroy was here!” along with the drawing of Kilroy peering over the wall. I haven’t seen Kilroy in bathrooms in years and I really miss him. I always loved, “After every job, there’s always a little paperwork.” Another memorable piece of graffiti was the poem, “Here I sit / Lonely hearted / Tried to shit / But only farted!” Poetry doesn’t come any better than that! I still see this poem on bathroom walls from time to time. However, as a purist of bathroom graffiti, I hate when someone tries to improve on this classic poem. Anyone remember this poem scrawled over the urinal? “No matter how much you shake and dance / The last few drops are for your pants.” Where are the bathroom poets of yesteryear now?

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico

I read a lot of graffiti in the Lincoln Hall bathroom at University of Illinois at Chicago. Once, above the toilet paper, I read, “Get your UIC diploma here.” When Wayne Gretsky was really popular, beneath “Jesus Saves” someone wrote, “But Gretsky gets the rebound and scores!” Years later, in the same bathroom, I read, “The graffiti isn’t as good as it was 1978. It turned out my friend Vito had written that when he returned to college–again.

Once I had to go really, really bad. So I was sitting down in a public restroom reading the graffiti on the wall. I heard someone enter the stall next to me. I read, “Tap foot for blowjob.” Only then did I realize that I was tapping my foot! I stopped tapping my foot immediately and hurried up out of there. Phew! That was close!

When I was a police officer, I witnessed a wonderful exchange among a series of bathroom graffiti artists. Someone wrote “Bob.” Then, underneath, someone else wrote “Bill.” Then, someone else put a plus sign between Bob and Bill: “Bob + Bill,” implying that they were a romantic item. But another bathroom poet who didn’t understand the nuances of subtlety added the obvious: “Bob + Bill are lovers.” The next addition, however, was a stroke of genius! I assume either Bob or Bill penned the following masterpiece of a conclusion so that the finished text read: “Bob + Bill are lovers of all God’s creatures great and small.”