Since the whiteboards came into the house, they’ve become a curious place for each of us to practice our admittedly meager drawing skills. I have always been able to doodle, I think most people can, but it wasn’t until I had kids that I had to learn how to draw basic animal shapes. Dogs, cats, dinosaurs, pigs, all of these were added to my repertoire to satisfy the demands of my artistically hungry children. My kids are old enough now that they don’t want us drawing things for them any more, but with the whiteboards in place, our drawing careers have been rejuvenated.
When we first got the whiteboards, I drew a T-Rex with a spoon and a chef’s hat, gleefully reciting the day’s menu. Beef stroganoff if I remember correctly. Then, once Wednesday came around, along with our weekly trip to McDonalds, I drew what I considered to be an especially hilarious cartoon of Batman bringing a bag of fast food to Two-Face, much to Mr. Dent’s surprise and delight. My wife didn’t quite understand it and my kids didn’t recognize Batman. Philistines.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, a game developed around the whiteboard. My wife, whom I love more than anything in this world but can’t draw to save her life, drew a dog approaching a set of stairs. Why she drew this, I have no idea, but there it was. Shortly after the grand masterpiece was unveiled I came home for lunch, co-workers in tow, so that we could play Marvel vs Capcom 3. As we left, one of my co-workers asked what the drawing was. My other co-worker explained that it was a dog going up some stairs. My wife, who is used to getting quizzical glances from the children when presented with her artwork, was absolutely elated. What was so blindingly obvious to her was also obvious to another person who wasn’t obligated through marriage to see in her drawings what she saw. She carried this recognition as a badge of honor, going so far as to challenge my ability to make a dog going up a stairs with such immediate recognizeability.
Not one to back down from a challenge I made not one, but two drawings. One was a dog sitting in one of those chair climbing seats used by the elderly. Facing the camera he looked happy, if slightly nonplussed at yet another trip up the stairs. The second was more complicated as it required a side view of a dog on a Stairmaster. I didn’t know how to draw a Stairmaster, and still don’t, but I faked it. I had to look at my real dog’s profile for reference shots, something she was clearly not comfortable with, possibly thinking I was going to stab her with the marker.
And so a game was born. My wife makes a small drawing and I elaborate on it. Which brings us to this drawing you saw at the top of the post, the pie eating contest. As my recent food column shows, we’re big on pie in my house and with pies on the mind my wife drew a pie eating contest. A pie eating contest is a difficult thing to riff on and it took me some time, but eventually a childhood spent reading Far Side cartoons reared up in my subconscious and the notion of a pie telling a ghost story about a pie eating contest was born.
Granted, it’s not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the concept ended up exactly how I wanted it to, even if the delivery is suspect. The story teller looks downright malicious, rather than scary, and the detail of the pie eating contest is muddled, something I have since fixed, but for the most part, I’m happy with it. The contest participant all the way to the left, the one face down in the pie, was my wife’s idea, an absolutely brilliant take on the act of gorging ones self for material gain.
It’s funny how small, silly things can spark small, silly games, provided you don’t think of either the event or the game too small or too silly for your consideration. I can’t say we’ll do the drawing game forever, as things like these tend to wax and wane over the course of every day life, but for now, it’s yet another way to connect with the woman I love, and a way to flex a skill that obviously needs work. Connecting with other people while being creative at the same time are some of the best reasons to play games, and if a crudely drawn Batman joke comes out of it too, well, all the better.