“Okay, class, we’re going to have a little contest,” said Ms. Hart, my elementary school art teacher. “We’re going to vote on who looks the MOST like Mona Lisa! Whoever wants to be in the contest, raise your hand.”
A gaggle of girls started to giggle and raise their hands. I sunk into my seat.
She pointed around the room, “Okay, you, and you, and you, aaaaaand…” She looked directly at me. “Why don’t you join the group, Stephanie?”
I went from pasty pale to beat red as I stood in front of the class for “evaluation”.
“Hmm, hmm, hmm, let’s cast a vote. So, here’s what’s going to happen – I’m going to paint a picture of Mona Lisa, and you get to stick your head through it.”
One of the girls got a shocked look on her face, likely due to the social implications of sticking one’s head through a painting. “I think Stephanie should do it – she looks the most like Mona Lisa.”
“Uh, yeah,” said the other girl, “Besides, she’s the only white girl in the whole class.” A few people snickered.
Of course, everyone agreed, and I was selected.
“Alright, do you need me to do it now for a photo or something?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” Ms. Hard replied. We’re going to prop you up in the lunchroom for A, B, and C lunch so the entire school can see you.”
“Oh, gee…I don’t think I can do that. I have gym class during-“
“Don’t worry, I’ll get you out of gym.”
I evaluated what would be more humiliating – getting blasted in the face with dodge-balls or get tossed into a medieval torture stock painted to look like Mona Lisa.
I chose Mona Lisa.
Initially, it wasn’t that bad. Most people didn’t even notice me. Until a young girl walked up to me.
“It is real?” she said, as she poked me square in the eye. I screamed. She screamed. It was a huge mess. It was at that moment that the local newspaper showed up.
“What a maaaarvelous little girl in a maaaarvelous painting!” The reporter started to take 1000 photos. Most of the lunch line laughed at me. After three periods of that (keep in mind, that’s a whopping 2+ hours), when the ordeal was finally over, I tried to extract myself from the painting and discovered a massive amount of paint stuck in my hair.
About ten years later, I was at my old dentist’s office. My mother just had some type of awful procedure, and I needed to pick her up because she was a little woozy.
“Stephanie! Boy, I haven’t seen you in a while!” said Dr. Lorch. “Well, actually, I see you every day…”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He led me to a cork-board where he had the newspaper photo pinned, for all of his patients to see.
“BAH! That is so embarrassing – why do you have that?”
“My patient, featured in the paper for Mona Lisa’s smile. That’s good advertising for a dentist’s office!”
My mother groggily chimed in, “Yah, you looked good in dah picture, very sexy.”
Anyu always knows exactly the least helpful, most inappropriate thing to say. I guess that’s how I know she’s proud of me.
Photo Courtesy of the Home News Tribune. Gee, thanks. Thanks a lot.