What Happened When This Student Tried To Answer A Question In Art Class?

My parents took me out of school for 6.5 weeks to visit their former homeland of England when I was in the 9th grade. It was approved by the school for me to be taken out for that length of time outside of the school holidays. Even though they knew this and even though I was given school work to take with me, there was some sort of administrative error made by the school and when I returned there wasn’t enough room for me in one of my single unit elective classes because of the grace period when they allowed us students to change classes if we didn’t like our selective subjects.

Because I wasn’t there to fight for my position in that popular single unit class, and as there was only one class of 20 students offered for that elective, when other kids applied to change to that from what they were doing, one other student was given my spot.

Although I tried to fight the decision, I was told I had to find another subject. As the timetable was finalised, I could only pick from a class that was being held when the subject I was kicked out of was on limiting my choice of subjects to pick from. Out of all the selections, the only subjects I liked were all two unit so I had to drop my other single unit that I wanted to do. Like REALLY wanted to do.

Sadly, at this stage in my school life, although I had just enjoyed a fantastic trip around the whole of England, nothing else was coming up Milhouse for me.

coming up milhouse
GIF courtesy of giphy

The best of the bad bunch of subjects was art even though I did not have the talent to be a visual artist. So, into Mr Hopper’s art class I went…

I had this teacher as my 7th grade art teacher so he knew me already when I joined his class. In year 7 I was a model student and loved by all the teachers I had because I joined in, was a good intelligent student, and I didn’t muck up in class. (Ed: Things changed as I got older, but I was very well behaved in my first year of high school).

On my first day in art class Mr Hopper had a large print of Georges Seurat’s famous painting from circa 1884 “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” put up in front of the class and he asked us all to write down what we saw. We could get out of our seats and come closer if we wanted and I took advantage of that.

The painting is prominently featured in the 1986 comedy film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
The painting is prominently featured in the 1986 comedy film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Thanks to Wikipedia for that bit of information and this copy of the painting from there too.

After a few minutes he said “time’s up” and then he said;

“Because Darrell is our newest member of the class, let’s see what he wrote down.”

So I started reading out what I could see in the picture. I was still scrawling down my answers because it really wasn’t a lot of time he gave us. It literally was a few minutes. And then I read my list.

“I could see a dog, a monkey?!?!??, some women with umbrellas on a sunny day…”

And then he stopped me right in my tracks as some laughter from the other students kicked in;

“Yes, those are all in that picture, but what I wanted to know is, well, let me pick someone else…”

As I found out while listening to my classmate read from their list, it wasn’t about the subject of the painting, rather the textures, the lighting, the shadows…

Here I am 28 years later and I can remember this like it was yesterday.

Thankfully one of the girls in the class came up to me after the bell went and said “you weren’t to know” but it kind of set things up for me to hate art class, and feel inferior to all the talented students in the class who I felt could judge art because they could do it, and I… well I even struggled to be a two-bit art critic.

And even though they didn’t laugh AT me, well, I have always allowed myself to think that they were laughing along with me being the class clown with the intent to make the class laugh, I felt that missing out on the first few months of this subject put me behind the eight ball and I was never going to catch up.

Have you ever done something embarrassing like that?

read another tale of my high school years here
read another tale of my high school years here

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