My place on the family fridge had been usurped by my little brother which is fine, I mean, not that I care that mom and dad think his picture of a medieval guy riding up to a castle rendered in watercolor and totally out of proportion is better than my giraffe laughing in the sun rendered in crayon, because I don’t. I know that my giraffe laughing in the sun is really good and that mom and dad probably just didn’t see the subtleties, such as how laid back he is, and isn’t life just one lazy steel pan drum beat, and hey look there’s a giraffe on the fridge, laughing in the sun, and duh, giraffes aren’t supposed to laugh so therein lies the humor, and why can’t they absorb enough of that to reduce some of their adult grade silence at dinner?
But I’m always getting usurped by something. Like my brother’s medieval guy riding up to the castle, again, totally out of proportion, and also kind of dark and ominous and probably portending his future as a high school shooter. But if it’s not that then it’s that my sister finally got contacts. And everyone’s like, oh, Amy, you look like such a beautiful young woman. And I’m like, really? Cause to me she looks like that same bathroom hogging, tangle-haired banshee who throws all of those shrieky sleepovers which, mind you, I have never been invited to. And woe becomes the man who tries to sneak into one to take a gander at Mia Gusterson’s inner knee, because should he be found out, trying to pose as a perfectly reasonable lump under a blanket, no amount of nonchalant walking away will stem the blood curdling cries that will issue after him, or the reign of tired disapproval from mom.
But everyone is all like, Amy, you’re really growing up, and I’m still like, really? Because I don’t think that growing up is distinctive to the female of the species, other reluctant attendants of this household are growing up, as is evidenced by the obvious cultural acumen needed to render a vaguely Caribbean, definitely really wise, very cool giraffe laughing in the sun, with nods towards childhood whimsy, which is why I chose to use my adorably off-kilter kid hand when drawing said picture, instead of my precise drawing hand, currently being diverted and mostly employed in the learning of cursive.
Because I know just how efficiently an off-kilter kid drawing can warm the cockles of a tax doing, over extended married couple, and curry a relieved and life appreciating glint in their eye. I’ve been doing it my whole life! Every little long day for eight endless years. I’ve been cranking them out and serving them up. A dog chasing a cat. And palm tree lifting weights. A stick figure family in a canoe. An ant looking at an ant under a magnifying glass, only to see that that ant is also looking at an ant under a magnifying glass, ad infinitum. And then the penultimate—a giraffe laughing in the sun with a generally kind of gritty warmth and ripening joy, only to be usurped by my brother and his medieval guy walking up to a castle, at which point my drawing was demoted to the badlands of the lower half of the fridge, where nothing dwells except for a coffee stain and a smudgy veterinarian’s appointment magnet.
And there my drawing will stay, until I finally figure out a way to usurp the usurper with the ultimate drawing. One with the most mom and dad placating, wonky kid wizardry as to have ever descended upon this weary household, and which is already taking shape in my mind as this: a cat tailor, tailoring a dress for a mouse, with Thomas Jefferson in the background. Goodnight.