I was sitting in a classroom which reminded me ofGrant Junior High School. One of my old high school classmates, Babcock, was seated to my right. Although Babcock and I were sitting in the back of the room, no other seats were directly in front of us. Just on the other side of Babcock, however, rows of seats ran all the way to the front of the room.
The subject matter of the class was international law. Since I had missed several classes, I was uncertain what I was supposed to be doing right now. I was, however, aware that all the students, including myself, were supposed to write reports; I planned to write my report on the railroads in Columbia. When I wrote my report, I ought to toss in some Spanish words, especially since the professor, Newton, spoke some Spanish. I might title the paper "Los Ferrocarriles de Colombia."
Newton was seated at a desk in front of the class. When he finally began talking, he didn't speak about the reports, but about another project on which the students were supposed to be working. Although I hadn't heard about this project, I quickly learned that each student was supposed to draw a picture. Indeed, some students had already drawn their pictures, which were hanging on the walls. The quality of the pictures was extraordinary; I was surprised that the students had been able to execute them so well.
My old friend Roger Anderson was sitting in a seat in the front of the classroom. Anderson was one of the students who had already finished drawing his work – a mural (about two meters wide by a meter and a half tall) hanging on the wall behind Newton. The mural – a masterfully executed piece of art – consisted of many small pictures arranged together. Joey mentioned to me that Anderson had labored 50 hours on the piece. Impressed, I wondered how Anderson had managed to complete such an artful job.
As I was looking more carefully at the motley pictures on Anderson's mural, Anderson stood up right in front of the mural. As he stood there, I noticed that one picture in the lower left corner looked like a picture of Anderson's face. The picture looked like the caricature of a man's head which had been executed in such a way as to make the head resemble that of a baby. But the similarity between the picture and Anderson's own face was amazing.
Anderson had signed his initials on the picture about a third of the way down from the upper left corner, instead of in the normal spot in the lower right corner.
Since this was the first time I had heard of the picture-drawing project, I asked Babcock more about it. As Babcock attempted to explain the project to me, I noticed that some people sitting in the row on the other side of Babcock had some copies of the magazine Art News. Babcock also had some copies of the magazine; I asked him if I could see one of his copies. He handed it to me.
Meanwhile, professor Newton began calling out the names of students who were seated on the other side of Babcock. As Newton would call out each name, he would ask the student to give the title of the drawing which the student planned to do. I immediately realized I didn't yet have a title and that I needed to come up with one.
I didn't know what I was going to draw. When I conferred with Babcock a bit more, I was surprised to learn that a method existed whereby the small pictures in the Art News magazine could be accurately traced onto a large canvas. I had no idea how such a feat could be possible, how a little picture out of the magazine could be transposed onto a large canvas. But I frantically began leafing through my copy of Art News, searching for a picture which I would like to trace. If I could find a picture, I would have a title to give Newton when he called on me.
I became distracted and again began looking at another beautiful picture hanging on the wall, a picture which one of the other students had created. I needed a few moments to understand the picture, which was comprised of white lines traced over a black background. At first I couldn't figure out what the white lines represented, but then I realized they traced the figures of two interlocking heads. I had to look at the drawing a while before I could discern the two heads, but when I finally saw them, the combination was beautiful.
Both heads were looking downward, one head over top of the other. The higher head, happy and beaming, resembled the head of a small Negro boy. The lower head, sad and withdrawn, resembled the head of a white boy.
Realizing I still needed to find my own picture, I turned back to my art magazine. Although I found many pretty pictures, I was still uncertain how I would be able to trace them so they would appear on a large canvas. One picture in the book caught my attention. It covered two pages and reminded me of a French impressionist painting. As I tried to distinguish the painter's name on the painting, I thought this painting might be a good one for me to try to trace.
I continued looking until I found another picture which I also particularly enjoyed; this painting consisted solely of large blotches of color arranged to form images. From the top left corner of the picture, the blotches formed a long, slender, abstract, whitish hand which reached down to the bottom of the painting. To me, the hand resembled the hand of God reaching down to touch man. I might like to trace this picture.
All my thought about drawing pictures was taking its toll on me. I was so involved with the study of law, I didn't know when I was going to have time to do the art work. In addition to this class (which required three hours every week) I was also taking three other law classes, and each of those classes required five hours per week. I simply didn't know when I was going to be able to do all the work in this class.
While professor Newton continued calling out names, he mentioned something about some people going away on trips. He said he didn't care if we were going to Vienna or Rome or someplace else, he wanted us to be working on international law while we were there.
I spoke to Babcock again; this time he asked me about something different, about what kind of work I was doing now. I told him about my present job and brought up how much money I was making. I told him that when I had first graduated from law school I had been earning $31,000 a year. Later I had been offered a three thousand dollar raise. Instead of accepting the raise, I had quit the job and had ventured out on my own to work for myself. I explained that it was difficult garnering as much money by working for myself as for someone else. It wasn't that I didn't earn as much money on my own, but now I had many more expenses, such as office and secretary.
As I talked to Babcock, I noticedJudith (a Dallas acquaintance) also in the room. Thinking Judith was my legal secretary, I mentioned her to Babcock. Babcock responded, "You know, Judith might be the guest AIDS carrier of the whole place."
I replied enigmatically, "Homer had it and Hermie had it."
I then explained to Babcock that I didn't have to worry about AIDS because I didn't have sex anymore. He asked, "What do you do when the sexual time comes around?"
I responded, "I suffer a lot."
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