Requires Drawing On All Your Strength  

, , , | Working | September 20, 2019

(When I am about 15, my mother’s law firm hosts a trip for the partners to go skiing out west. As my mother is unmarried, she has no family to bring except me, her only daughter, so I am invited. This results in the group of us, lawyers, and their families, waiting together to board the same plane between 5:00 and 6:00 am. I bring out a sketchbook to doodle in to keep myself awake, when one of the two named partners — a man in his 50s, and not my mom’s main boss — comes over to see what I am drawing, and, to all appearances, be a nuisance. This man is a known bully, a pain in the a**, and a creep, but there isn’t much my mom can say or do about it at the time. As for me, I am so tired I can barely think, let alone tactfully dodge his attention.)

Partner: “So, you can draw, huh? What else can you draw?”

Me: “Um… I don’t know. Pretty much anything if I can see it, though I like to draw from my head.”

Partner: “Oh, yeah? So, can you draw that plane right there?”

Me: “Yeah. I mean, I could.”

Partner: “Prove it. I want to see you actually draw that plane.”

(I start drawing the plane. I don’t get far, but apparently, he is one of those people who simply cannot wrap their brains around artistic talent at all, so even the most basic stuff astounds him. Rather than prompt him to compliment me, though, this seems to only spur him on to be more obnoxious.)

Partner: “You’re even drawing those little seams and rivets. How did you know to do that?”

Me: “Well, they’re there. I can see them. As I said, I can draw it if I can see it.”

Partner: “Well, what about—”

(We are interrupted by the announcement to begin boarding, and I think that, thankfully, this is the end of it. But somehow, I end up seated next to him on the plane — he in the window seat and my mom in the aisle seat, with me stuck in the middle, the sole object of his focus, for hours. My mom has tried to discourage him a few times, to no avail, and keeps giving me sympathetic looks as he quizzes me.)

Partner: “So, could you draw [random thing]?”

Me: “Probably.”

Partner: “And you can draw things from your head, too? Just, right out of your head?”

Me: “I try.”

Partner: *smugly* “I bet I know something you can’t draw! The United States with all fifty states where they’re supposed to be.”

(I just sigh and begin drawing out the USA with a pen on one of the little airplane cocktail napkins. It’s not photographic, but it’s not half bad, though I get tripped up around Delaware. Regardless, the partner starts huffing and sputtering before I’m finished. He actually seems angry that I could do it — that it was at all possible.)

Partner: *snatching the napkin and trying to show it around* “Do you see this? Do you see what she did?” *turns back to me* “How could you possibly know how to draw that?!”

Me: “I’ve seen a map.”

Partner: *speechless*

(To this day, my mother tells this story with pride, that with that one line I managed to “shut him up so fast!” When he finally spoke again, it was to grumble something I don’t remember, and then he moved seats to a different row to find a new victim. I didn’t speak to him again for the rest of the trip, or ever again afterward. Years later, no one missed him when he left the firm, taking his half of the partners and business with him in an ugly split. Unrelated, but just to drive home what a jerk he was, his final act was to strip the office of every piece of art, decor, and communal furniture that wasn’t nailed down.)

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