It was 1985. High School. A John Hughes-like experience resplendent with all the glory of hair gel and spandex; waited for me the morning of class registration which would be my last semester of Senior High. Groggy-eyed teens were blasting their Jam-boxes to the tunes of Echo and the Bunnymen, The Thompson Twins, and Depeche Mode. Their songs reverberated off of the stone walls while some kids chose to have a more personal experience by throwing on the headphones and cranking up the Sony Walkman to eleven. Not to be outdone, my Memorex cassette tape rolled along with the mega-hit “Everybody wants to rule the world”, as I stood in the same line as the other morose looking students. Waiting in the queue; I flipped the tape over to listen to the B side quickly remembering the plan I had formed from last nights think-tank effort. This last semester was gonna be tubular!
Clutching my Trapper Keeper, I ripped open the Velcro and took out my Pee-Chee notebook to reveal the list of classes I had pre-selected the night before. Firm resolve had hardened on my face for this semester was going to be different from all the rest. My mission…to chill out!
The reason for all the fuss this morning was due to the heavy class load I had each semester since the end of my Sophomore year. I had qualified for advanced English Literature classes because I seemed to have a knack for the subject. While the “honor” of being in advanced classes was great, and the extra college credit was nice, it meant a ridiculous amount of homework, study, reading, memorization, and writing projects that consumed almost every bit of my time daily. I was exhausted by the time I hit the last semester of my Senior year. All of my “had to” classes and credits were all passed and behind me. So, it was time to hit the brakes and just coast into graduation day.
Therefore, the plan was simple: register for the easiest classes I could find and bring this plane down for a safe and “Party-on dude” landing(you have to love a Bill and Ted’s reference). Most of the classes on the list I was clutching were fairly normal: Statistics, German 301, P.E., but the only one circled in red(Yes, I am that OCD.) was a simple laid-back gem of a class called: Art 101. It became my turn at the front of the line and the lady with the librarian glasses took my request. Then, I faded back outside onto the”Quad” with a smirk upon my face; knowing that a perfect plan was in motion.
The last semester of 1985’s classes had begun and I plowed through the door of Art 101, plopped down in my assigned seat, and threw up my Chuck Taylor’s on the top of the desk in front of me. The teacher babbled on and on about the history of art and all that jive, but I just grabbed my Vaurnet’s that dangled around my neck with the neon-green sunglass leash and secured my shades over my eyes because “the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades”!
Assignments were being handed out and I quickly discovered that though my well-thought out intention was to cruise by in this class, that was not going to happen after all. To my disgust, my talent for drawing stick figures, was just not going to cut it if I was going to pass this class. I possessed no brush strokes of Botticelli’s ilk. I could not grip the charcoal as O’Keeffe. Heck, I couldn’t even flick paint on a canvas as Pollock did!
So, the mastermind was crest-fallen and the infallible plan was thwarted. But… there was a solution and a friendly one indeed!
I had an older friend whom my buddies used to hang out with as well. My friend was immensely artistically inclined. They used to do portraits at a local tourist stop in Southern California and that had honed their talent. So, without skipping a beat, I had an idea! Then, with a smile and a slow head turn towards the camera like Ferris Bueller, I vowed to pass this Art 101 class the easiest way I knew how; I would cheat my brains out.
After my smirk had been securely fixed upon my face, I asked my friend to do the assignments for me. The plan was this: I would pretend to shade some areas on the pieces I was working on in class with the smallest hand movements possible, and later bring those projects to my talented friend to finish. The hard part was the progression. I had to make, no… fake it to look like daily progress was being made, but mostly at home. The really difficult thing was to not ruin the piece while I was pretending to work on it in class. That soon proved easy enough, because there was a very needy student in class that seemed to eat up all of the instructor’s time.
The first project was a watercolor of a nature scene that was to be filled in by pen and ink. I faked some scribbles in class and took that bad boy straight to my pal. The next morning I arrived at my friends house to pick up the finished product and I was instantly scared to death. It was the most beautiful watercolor of a group of turkeys feeding upon the ground that I had ever seen in my life. I mean a piece that was practically on the level of Terry Redlin.
I shook as I stood there dumbstruck looking at what I had to turn in. There was no time! I had to hand in this project today!! Not wanting to receive an incomplete, I marched off to school with a stellar piece in hand. But, youthful exuberance talked me into seeing this as a good thing; as I began to be Tony Robbins-like in my internal conversation that went like this: “Yes!! The master plan was still in effect! I was going to take it “casual” spending most of my time watching my MTV and pinning my Levi 501’s”. Although, I thought there might be a slight chance I would get caught, I was not at all expecting what did end up happening and it was bogus!
While the other students were placing their first projects on the teacher’s cluttered desk, I snuck mine in the middle of the pile and went back to faking it at my desk on the next project. My eyes peered up every once in a while as I watched the teacher’s expression as she looked over the stack of nature scenes. Good…No strange or out of the ordinary looks were being lived out in front of me. So, that meant I was in the clear as the class fell silent and went about its business.
A couple of days had passed, and I was starting to feel more confident that my master plan was working. One day, I was practicing my barely discernible brush strokes when the bell rang and I shot for the door. “Chris, hey can you stay a minute?” rang out in my ears. NO, NO, NO, this was not happening. She found me out! Great, now what was I going to do? I walked over to her desk like Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking; waiting with shaky hands to hear her pronouncement of guilty. To my infinite disbelief, that was not what happened.
The teacher began to effusively praise my use of back shading and subject matter. She started saying she was going to show my work to some of her gallery friends. “Mrs. Art 101” was planning to take some of the work my friend had done and see what attention it would gather at local art festivals. Many other kinds of crazy dramatic flourishing statements came out of her lips as well. Now, while my friend beamed with pride, I was in a pickle. I obviously can’t be present at any kind of festival or gallery since I possess not a thread of talent myself. So, I did what most children of the 80’s were experts at: I lied to cover a lie. I told the teacher that I was much more into my music(which was a half-truth) than art; that I just did the assignments to get them done and was not really into art that much. I was gonna rock!
As I look back, I am not proud of what I did; but the Lord did use the event to teach me something important. At the time I was feeling like “A Blister In The Sun” as the whole experience had really unnerved me. The Lord though, used this event to teach me a lesson about lying and misrepresenting myself. This was not the only lesson the Lord taught me on the subject, but it is definitely one of the most memorable.
Today, I do everything in my power to represent the Lord’s Kingdom well. I don’t always succeed, but I try very hard and ask for forgiveness when I fail.
So, if you are struggling with this as well, take heart and learn a lesson from a child of the 80’s and just “Relax, don’t do it”.
Here is a verse from the word of God to drive home the point further: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” 1 John 1:6(ESV)
It is so important that we practice God’s truth in our lives. It produces steadfastness, perseverance and brings peace of mind that you are living out loud what you profess.
May God show you today His path of truth.
The Great Plains Poet, a “radical” dude trying to be the righteousness of Christ.
God bless you all.