The G: By the way, can we please throw a prom-themed party sometime soon. I'm going home for a night or two next week and I am so certain my mom still has fuschia nightmares up in the attic, begging to be worn.
S: Um, I'm in. The black velvet off the shoulder dress where i believe I wore the hanger straps? because i'm hip?
The G: Sweeeeeeeet. i'm thinking "SNAKES ON A PLANE VIEWING/PROM NIGHT." Tiny snakes instead of corsages.
- - -
I'm not really one for "kids are so cute/say the darndest things" stories. Kids are cute enough, but I'm kind of neutral towards children in general, unless said children are particularly awesome. However, I can't seem to talk about the below story without laughing, even though it's probably only funny to me and maybe one other person. It's terribly annoying. So, take note, One Other Person: S., this is for you.
Other People: If you don't care about humans under the age of 15, or short people, you may stop reading now.
Somehow I was wrangled into face painting duties a few weekends ago at a very exceptionally awesome 3-yr old's birthday party. Why me is never really explained in these sort of situations, but listen: if you are 18 and considering getting an art degree but are not really all that talented, this is what you end up doing with yr education. Your friends assume a lot about their sole peer with an art degree, like, oh, they may be artistic. This is a common misconception. In reality, 74% of art majors just were lazy and liked the scene and drank too much.
Anyways, this fete was out in the sticks. Gravel road, dueling banjos, etc. My BFF, along with being a prodigious procreater and living in a giant house in the woods, is a party-thrower extraordinaire. And while she insists someday I will also rent a cotton candy machine and have clowns with color/theme coordinated balloon bouquets for my precious toddler offspring, she is delusional if she honestly thinks that true. Also, I can't bake, so hello Sheet Cake City, how you doin.
So, S. and I drove to the party, and awkwardly hung out in the unoccupied rooms reserved for the childless until it was my turn to work.
Consider if you will, for a moment: me, in the driveway, seated on a plastic table/chair set meant for four year olds, armed with many many pots of nontoxic clown paint, the weather stormy and unpredictable, America's future Young Republicans eagerly lined up awaiting my artistic splendor. No lawmen for miles. Lo, the possibilities.
I behaved. Hell, I even took requests, and refrained from suggesting "patriotic donkeys" anytime some parents asked "what kind of animals I did." (Heh. Doing animals.) Apparently the other parents all thought I was hired? Do people hire this kind of entertainment for kids birthday parties? People, if you feed me unlimited cake and other sugary fooodstuffs, I so do this for free. Anyways, lots of requests for butterflies, a thomas the train whatever or two, and a tiger that turned out looking more like an orangutan.
Then the sisters arrived.
Although I love the kids of my friend to the Nth degree, (they are smart and terribly well-behaved and have insanely shiny hair and say "please"), they often times are overshadowed by another neighborhood family. Well, to me, at least - I'm sure most adults find my friends brood much more charming. But this other squadron of girls is intense. Like, you can feel the insanity radiating off their little ADD bodies. The oldest is 10 years old, and is thoroughly sports-obsessed. The next-oldest, C., has worn glasses since she was an infant and I think has facial ticks. She's probably 6. Both of them wreck mass havoc wherever they go, ole Four Eyed C. most especially. I once watched her slam her Big Wheel into a wall over and over for 20 minutes straight with a half-smile on her face. I've known her since she was 2, and I have never seen her cry.
I love her.
The oldest promptly sits her skinny butt down on a plastic chair and demands sports paraphenalia drawn all over her face (snicker #2: "COVER MY FACE WITH BALLS!") So, a football on the forehead, a soccer ball and baseball on each cheek. She comes back a few minutes later to add a tennis ball to her chin. Done and done.
C. sits down. She doesn't speak for a minute or two. It had been raining all morning, and her glasses are fogged up. She's staring at me. She's creepy.
"Just one snake?"
"Two snakes. Up both my arms. TO THE SHOULDER."
Awesome. So, I draw a nice healthy green snake on one arm. She then requests that the snake on her other arm be WHITE. (S. is behind me at this point watching intently and cracking up about albino snakes, and egging me on to draw a tiny plane on the child's shoulder.)
Two minutes later, C.'s back. Another moment of silence, some more blank stares.
"These snakes aren't long enough."
So I do some snake extension work. I'm beginning to feel like the tattoo artist who has a particularly weird customer he'd kind of like to avoid, but still has come back in every few days to continue color work on elaborate sleeves of satanic symbols, sexualized Disney cartoons, and Catholic imagery. Don't even say you don't know the kind of guy I'm talking about. Everyone's seen at least one episode of "Miami Ink."
The oldest girl returns for a second go-round herself. By this point, there are no other children in party attendance who are remotely interested in face painting. I exist simply to entertain the 2 sisters. Since her face is totally covered, she asks that I write "GO REDSKINS" on her right arm.
Then "GO NATIONALS" on her other arm (it has to says "Nationals", by the way. When I suggested "GO NATS," she rolled her eyes in a way that made me want to go warn her mother that preteen assholery has set in a tad prematurely.)
I start packing up my v. elaborate face painting supplies. It's late, and, as an artiste, I am temperamental. I have not had alcohol in almost 30 hours. There are 74 listless, whimpering children sitting on the driveway, splashing each other with a mixture of melted cotton candy, rainwater, ennui, face paint, and possibly diaper remains. It is eleventy billion degreees.
I make the mistake of making eye contact with Four Eyed C. across the yard, just as I've finished wiping red paint down the back of S's shirt. Her eyes light up, and she bolts over. I sigh.
"C., darling heart: every inch of your arms are covered in paint. Your face is melting. Don't tell your mom I said this, but you kind of look like a lady of the night after a particularly rough Sailors Week. Or maybe Gene Simmons. What else do you want from me?"
C. looks at her sister, and then looks back at me. The child bears an eerie resemblence to the girl on the bus at the end of the Ferris Bueller movie, the one who offers the principal a gummy bear? She points at her sister's arms.
"I want 'GO SNAKES' written on my forehead."
I'm totally in love with anyone rooting for the snakes to win. Win what, you ask? Who cares.
Such a foreward thinker. I'm considering offering babysitting services, and taking her to "SoAP" with me.