While in Grade School, we had a monster drawing contest. I can feel your envy. My entry came to me in a dream. I pictured this thing walking down our driveway. I remember sketching out what I wanted to do. I did my preliminary sketches in black and white, but I wanted THE poster in color. I went over it with my teacher, Mrs. Smith. I pictured a multi-colored walking octopus of sorts. She approved of it and gave me helpful suggestions, so did my mom. It seemed real to me. Even to this day, if I think about it, I can picture it walking down our driveway. Naturally, it’s a nice monster. I’m not sure what, if anything, it could terrorize.
My monster took shape. Kids kept telling me that mine would surely win. No conceit here, but mine was the best. The principal judged the contest and then the moment of truth. Our names were written on the back. Teachers and the principal kept checking the backs of the drawings.
A big hold up. The teachers stopped and conferred. My teacher, Mrs. Smith was not happy. She argued with the principal and they took it out into the hall. I had never seen Mrs. Smith so upset. Finally, they announced the winners. My monster tied for fourth. Crushed cannot even begin to describe my feelings. The winner, a green blob. The green blob artist, used to stand next to me in line. If we accidentally bumped into each other, he’d turn with two fingers and tap the kid next to him. “Hall germs.” Most every kid in turn would continue to spread the germs. The loss was painful, but to lose to this kid, this hater? And with an uninspired splat of green paint with eyes?
Mrs. Smith noticed my shock and pain. She did her best to console me. She couldn’t contain her anger. “The truth is,” she said. “You won.”
I held back the tears. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the other kids.
“The principal felt a girl shouldn’t win, so she pushed you back.”
Of course, it’s an outrage. At the time. I didn’t understand the ramifications. If girls can’t win, why invite them to participate in the first place? I grew up in a time when girls still had to wear dresses to school. Is it surprising that this could happen? Certainly not. I can’t say I think about this every day, but I still have the poster. It’s in my basement somewhere. I intend to have it framed. Every time I think of things I can’t do, I think about it. Every time I feel defeated or low, I look at it. I think about the things I have done. My victories, though small, are still my victories. I want to remind myself, of the things I can do.
I’ll bet the green blob found his way to the trash heap long before my walking multi-color octopus will.
Would I want my monster to come to life? If it did, what would it do? Take out the green blob artist and a sexist principal? Certainly not, but maybe a look of hate and disgust could cross its face while it spreads their germs down a long line.