Thursday, May 30, 2013
This is the shirt I wore today. Recognize this guy?
How, you ask? The year was 1996. I was a freshman in high school. For whatever reason, my AP English teacher assigned us a project to paint a pumpkin for Halloween.
**Quick interjection here: if you're wondering why my AP English class assignment in high school was to paint a pumpkin, don't blame me--I'm still scratching my head on that one myself. Clearly, they are testing the wrong things on STAAR.**
Back to pumpkin painting. I should probably tell you that I'm not the most artistically inclined person. Like, most people have a hard time deciphering my stick figures. So now, this pumpkin thing was not only a contest, but also a grade! I was screwed. Oh, and we were allowed to paint it however we wanted. No guidelines whatsoever. If this were an actual advanced assignment, I might be okay with this, but really? In 9th grade? I'm clearly not over this. And I should be, which I promise I will get to, but you know how I am in that I take the long way around.
I don't remember how I came up with my idea, but I do remember running through several ideas, such as Mr. Potato Head, because I thought it would be funny to turn one vegetable into another. Plus, I really wanted to stick Mr. Potato Head hands in my pumpkin. Don't judge me.
I don't know why or how I came up with my idea, but all of a sudden, it hit me: I should paint my pumpkin to look like the Kool-Aid Man. That way, I could still use the Mr. Potato Head hands, and (double bonus!) I could paint it whatever color I wanted. Mr. Kool Aid could be any flavor I chose.
I'm going to insert a sidebar here and tell you that at the same time as this artistic crisis, I was having another teenage crisis: lack of money. I didn't need it to gallavant around town; no, I had found the perfect Christmas present for my mom. She is an avid collector of bells, and I had found a perfect one to get her. It was a silver bell with a little red bow and "Merry Christmas 1996" engraved on it. I thought it was perfect, and I liked that it had the year, so I could remember that I had done this all by myself. By the time I had stacked all my gift cards and coupons, I still needed $20, and I really didn't want to ask my grandparents. However, with no job, the inability to pay bills with my looks, and time winding down, it was starting to look like more of a probability.
Back to our regularly scheduled program. So what color did I choose for the Kool-Aid Man? Neon green. Yes, the very neon green such as you see in the t-shirt pictured above. I decided I wanted to have lime Kool-Aid. So off I went. I made a spout out of white paper fashioned to look like an upside-down visor (and top of a jug), ice cubes out of styroforam, a handle made out of twisted newspaper that was also painted neon green, the Kool-Aid Man standard facial expression, and the best part: the accessories. The Kool-Aid Man had Mr. Potato Head hands and Converse All-Stars. Oh yeahhhhh!
Mr. Kool-Aid looked pretty awesome. I so wish I had a picture of it, because it truly was the pinnacle of my artistic career. Unfortunately, Blogger won't let me attempt a stick figure or freehand drawing of it either. Boo. For once, I fashioned something that didn't look like a pile of poo, and I did it all by myself! Huzzah!
Anyway, I was admiring my masterpiece the night before it was due, and I needed to move it out of the way and closer to the door so I could be ready to take it to school the next morning. I picked it up to move it, and it exploded. Pieces went up, seeds went down. I was in tears. Apparently, I had fashioned my pumpkin too early. It was in a process of ruination that culminated in the explosion the night before it was due. Now, I barely had 12 hours to complete it all over again (after doing that fabulous a job, you better believe I was NOT going to skimp on a redo). Oh, and I had another commitment that night that was required. I was a member of the drill team, and one of our big fundraisers was occurring at this very moment--so there was four of those approximate 12 hours gone. And I still had to sleep at some point. Luckily, a very kind neighbor secured another pumpkin for me, and I directed my mom and grandparents as we worked hard and fast to reproduce the Kool-Aid Man. It was approximate 11 pm, and I had to go to bed and pray to God that my pumpkin would be dry the next morning.
Except it wasn't. When my grandpa drove me to school at 7 am (drill team practice comes awfully early) the next morning, my pumpkin was...not...dry. Awesome, it was due second period, and it wasn't done. Now no one would see my masterpiece, and my grade would be blown. I would never be class valedictorian, and all because of a stupid pumpkin!
What I did not know at the time was that while I was not only sweating at drill team practice, but also over a pumpkin and English grade (because all good English grades go to he who has the best pumpkin), my grandpa was wiping the sweat off a certain pumpkin--with an oscillating fan. When I went to English that day, I hung my head as I told my teacher what had happened. She compassionately told me I had until the end of the period to come up with an alternate plan. Oh...crap. I sat nervously twitching and looking at the clock. At around 9:30 am (how is it that 17 years later I remember this so clearly?), the intercom came on in the room to announce that our class had a visitor. What the heck? When I looked out the plate glass window, I saw my grandpa. Whaaaaat?
The teacher answered the door and called my name. I went to the door, and there stood my grandpa. In his arms, he was cradling Kool-Aid Man #2. I had never been so happy to see my grandpa...or the Kool-Aid Man. I gave my grandpa a quick hug and kiss and snatched up Mr. Kool-Aid to proudly plunk down at the front of the display table with all the other pumpkins. To add a little puff to my ego, another student in the class pointed at my pumpkin and said, "Cool! It's the Kool-Aid Man!" God bless the 80's and those of us who were fortunate to grow up at a time when the Kool-Aid Man was the shiz.
And so it was. Remember that sidebar I interjected with earlier? The one about my monetary crisis? Scroll back up and re-read if you need to, because here's where that comes into play. When this contest/grade project came up, we were never told what the prizes were. Two days later, when I had English class again, I found out. Our teacher handed out the prize envelopes. She handed out third-prize first; then second. I had pretty much decided I was going to watch and try to be happy for whatever schmuck won, because remember that whole stick figure thing? Yeah. Well imagine my complete and utter surprise when my English teacher handed me the first-prize envelope. Wanna know what was in it? Hmmmm...I guess I'll tell you: it was $20. Exactly enough to buy the bell. I went home and ordered it that very day.
You might call it said, but that was truly one of the coolest stories of my life. I actually achieved something artistic that was recognizable, and I was able to completely pay for a Christmas gift for my mom. Plus, Kool-Aid (sugar-free for me) is tasty! If you ask me if I'm grateful for the Kool-Aid Man, let me give you a resounding "OH YEAHHHHHH!"