The Art Teacher, a Parable
Rebecca drinks a different type of alcohol and writes a rough draft. She edits sober. Last week she had Margaritas and wrote about the raids. This week…
The art teacher has until 11:30am everyday to prep.
She has twenty mini easels, tubs of paint and plastic table jackets on five round tables. She has boxes of markers and colored pencils fancier than Crayola.
She wears black pants. Layers and layers of cracked paint skin cover the surface of her apron. Like Rafiki placed it around her neck, holding her up by the armpits for all to behold the art teacher.
Non-art teachers walk by and say, “You look so in your element.”
“It’s the apron,” the art teacher says.
Around 8am – hours before the students arrive – she squeezes paint on a sheet of parchment paper and places it on an old cafeteria tray. Her palette.
She adds to the class painting everyday – flowers – because getting 35 third graders to paint one bouquet is a slow production.
By 10 or so, she pours pink glazing liquid on a tray to coat 35 clay baby Jesus’s.
She places a box of pastels on each table just before 11:30. When the kids come, she’s smiling at the door. She says hello, welcome, hi, one by one by one.
The art teacher tells them to color a sketch and turns her back. She’s glazing Marys and Joesphs now.
One student chafes his sketch with a bright orange pastel. Powder piles on the corners of his paper like anthills. The art teacher notices, lifts his arm and tells him to please, start over. He doesn’t want to, he worked so hard on this.
A girl stands at her seat with a crumbled face and all ten fingers up in the air, “Can I wash my hands?” she whines.
Meanwhile, skinny and twerpish boys crumble pastels in their fists. They chant Pixie. Dust. Pixie Dust. Pixie. Dust.
They’re aiming for the back of another girl’s head – a girl with greasy black hair (now with rainbow dandruff). But greasy girl doesn’t notice. She keeps touching her clothes and shouting this stuff is so dirty! or My mom is going to kill me. or Why aren’t we using our aproooooons?
Her friend is laughing because this is fun. She’s rubbing purple and pink on every surface but her drawing. The girl with her hands up yells I WANT TO WASH MY HANDS PLEASE! again and again and again.
Many students discover the most effective way to color with pastels: Grind it on the page and blow the powdery excrements at someone they don’t like.
A puffing symphony ensues and colors spray across every chest. Greasy girl is crying because she just wants an apron. “Well then get an apron!” the art teacher says.
Another tune in the ensemble repeats: Can I have an apron? Can I have an apron? I want and apron! Can I have an apron! I need to wash my hands! I need to wash my hands!
A group of four in the front of the room have pastel dust in their eyes. It looks like they’re crying. No, they are crying. They’re freaking out. “Go to the nurse, go to the nurse, just go to the nurse,” says the art teacher. The boys behind are dropping pastels on the floor and stomping on them. One asks if he can go to the nurse too.
The art teacher doesn’t answer. Another student asks to wash her hands. The art teacher doesn’t answer. It’s time to send them to lunch.
The art teacher gets on her knees with a wet towel, only turning blue dust into blue clouds that every child steps on and smears on their way out.
Art. Thank you.
- Paul Druecke on Milwaukee - May 5, 2016
- Jim Coppoc on Ames, Iowa - March 3, 2016
- Christine Fadden on Port Townsend, WA - February 4, 2016