Color my World

“If you want an interesting party sometime, combine cocktails and a fresh box of crayons for everyone.” -Robert Fulghum

(My sister is traumatized at losing her favorite crayon.  So this is for her.)

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In Owen’s world, navy blue ruled over all.  The other colors were meager pebbles in the mighty ocean of navy blue.

The blue jeans that he wore in his self-portraits were navy blue.  The ocean, the sky, the bird, the mailbox, the rays shooting out of alien spacecraft; they all had to be navy blue.  Even the goldfish.

crayon-clip-art-4T9ERzjTE“But Owen”, his mother would inquire, “why is the goldfish blue?  Shouldn’t it be, just maybe, a little more orangey?”

“Mom”, Owen protested as he rolled his eyes.  “The goldfish is in the blue lake.  That makes it blue.”

“Okay, but why are the rocks at the bottom of the lake grey and the leaves at the bottom green?”

“I’m drawing Mom”, was Owen’s reply.  His mother did not understand his artistic choices.

As it goes with all favored crayons, the navy blue had seen better days.  Even with Owen’s reluctance to share his cherished possession (“No!  You get cyan.  I’m using navy blue.  Use coral or sumthin’.”), the crayon had still lost its point long ago.  What had once been a peak or a point was now worn down to a very obvious nub.  The tip was as blunt and round as Owen’s chubby fingers.  Often, his mother would call him to dinner, interrupting his latest landscape, and find that he had just as much crayon on his hands as on the paper.

The wrapper was torn down to half its original size.  The dozens of other crayons towered above navy blue in their cardboard container.  Yet Owen’s loyalty to his treasured selection remained.

In front of him was his greatest masterpiece.  Owen scribbled in the finishing touches.  A few streaks here or there made their way to the tabletop.  In a flurry, Owen filled in the last blank spot and beamed at his work.  Two blue cars racing in front of a blue sky, around a blue lake as they passed a blue house and approached a blue stoplight.

He wiggled out of his plastic play chair.  The blobs of flesh that covered his legs and arms jiggled as he slid over and stood up.  With his artwork in one hand and his precious crayon in the other, he ran to the kitchen to show his mother.  His chin, tummy, and limbs all jostled and bobbed as he bounded across the carpet.

Then, just before entering the kitchen, an obstacle appeared.  On his over-stuffed pillow (navy blue, of course), Charles Barkley lay sleeping.  His jowls rested on his front paws while his hind legs jutted out.  Barkley knew how to use his massive frame to occupy floor space.  And laps.  And yards.  And the backseats of cars.

dog-sleeping-RcgELQ-clipartOwen had not been running to pet or play fetch.  Owen had been running to encourage art appreciation.  In his zeal, he did not notice Barkley.  But his legs did not miss tripping over the hind legs that were blocking the kitchen doorway.

Part flying, part tripping, and part flying, Owen was flung into the kitchen.  He bounced off of the linoleum, falling short of a wooden chair, and found himself at his mother’s feet.

“You okay?”

Owen nodded, more confused than anything.  He looked at his hands.  His artwork was crumpled, but otherwise fine.  His other works had survived far less.

“Whatchya got there?”  His mother kneeled down, gently took the paper from his fluffy hands, and smiled in appreciation.  “Shall we put this on the fridge with the others?” Owen’s mom pointed to the already cluttered refrigerator door and started searching for a free magnet.

It was then that Owen looked at his hands.  His eyes got wide.  Panic set in.  What should have been his mighty navy blue crayon was now a fragment of its former self.  He looked around and found another chunk of blue a few feet away.  The force of the fall and the surprise of the event had caused his thumb to snap the crayon in half.

Owen’s mom turned back to him and saw him waddle towards the crayon piece.  He very quietly, very slowly, picked up the crayon bit.  He looked at each hand.  First he observed the left one with the crayon still in part of a wrapper.  Then he looked to the right one, stubby on the top, jagged at the bottom.  A confused look loomed large on his furrowed brow.  Back and forth he moved his neck, his eyes getting wider with each turn.

“Sweetie?  It’s only a crayon”, his mother tried to reassure him.  “It will still work fine.”

Owen did not hear his mother’s words.  A thought had entered his mind.  An unbelievable idea.  A notion that changed his world.  The thought swirled and built in his brain.  It burst out of his mouth in a mighty exclamation.

“I have two blue crayons!”

“Why yes”, his mom said with a smile.  “I guess you do.”

“You wanna color with this one?”  Owen offered up what had been the bottom half of his crayon, holding his left open.

“Maybe in a bit”, his mother answered.  “I need to finish this up.  Why don’t you go put that one in a safe place for now?”

“Okay!”  Owen ran back to his coloring table, joyfully plopping the navy blue crayon chunk in its cardboard slot, secure amongst the other crayons in the box.  He then grabbed another piece of paper, more excited than ever about all he could draw with twice the crayon power at his disposal.

Stanley’s Super-Heroic Feat

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Stanley’s Super-Heroic Feat

Lord knows, kids like Henry need a hero.  Courageous, self-sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us.  Everybody loves a hero.” –Spider-Man 2

Stanley didn’t like change.  He didn’t like it when he was out of his favorite chocolate-crusted flaky cereal and had to settle with “boring ol’” puffed rice.  (The inclusion of freshly sliced strawberries wasn’t enough; Stanley’s breakfast needed chocolate.)    Stanley didn’t like it when his favorite rocket-ship pajamas were being washed.  Once upon a time he might have been okay with robot pajamas, but those could never be as cool as his rocket ship pajamas.  As he often pointed out to anyone who he thought might listen, the rocket ship ones has padded feet.  Stanley liked things how he liked them.  He was not a child who ran off with a backpack full of treasures to seek out far away perils.  He liked his own little world the way it was.

Thus it should come as no surprise that Stanley’s parents were not looking forward to telling him about the move.  Stanley’s father had been transferred to Arizona, which meant leaving behind their New York lives.  They had some family out in California, but they knew it would be a challenge to adjust their son to a life without the friends and loved ones he’d known all his life.  Even at eight years old, Stanley had become very accustomed to the way things were.

Knowing that they couldn’t put it off any longer, the parents fed Stanley his favorite dinner of macaroni and cheese.  They hoped that the familiar taste and a gentle approach would help smooth things over.  Stanley, forgetting the table manners that had been instilled in him, played with his favorite action figure.  He kept putting down his fork and turning his thoughts to the super-hero in his hand that he was flying and vrooming over the plate.

“Stanley”, his mother said.  “We need you to put down your toy and listen to us for a minute.”

Stanley was perplexed.  He wasn’t sure what could possibly be more important than zooming over mountains to save people.  Still, he stopped moving the toy about and held it with both his hands in front of him.

“Stanley”, his father began, “we’re going to be moving to a new house.”  Immediately Stanley’s father could see the worry consume his son’s face.  “It’s going to be okay, though.”

“We’re just going to take everything and put it somewhere else”, Stanley’s mom offered.  “All your toys, your father and I; we’ll all be together.  We’re just going to it all in a different house.

“Where?”  It was all Stanley could say. 

“Do you remember Uncle Frank?” Stanley’s father asked.  “We went out to see him two years ago?”  Stanley looked back with the same confused expression.  “He had that horse he let you ride?”

Stanley nodded quietly.  He remembered the horse, but he couldn’t understand what it had to do with him.  The horse could come over and visit if it wanted, but he and his toys were quite happy here.  Stanley hugged his toy closer to his chest in case some of the bad news was meant for his favorite hero.

“We’re going to move out there and be close to him”, Stanley’s mother said.  “We’ll be able to see him more often.  And your father has a new job out there.  He’s going to learn how to do more things.  You know, like how your teacher shows you different things at different times of the day?”

Stanley only nodded.

“It’s just like that”, his mother continued.  “Let’s say that your dad has been learning to read all this time.  Well now we’re all going to a different place so he can learn how to do math.  And we don’t want your father to be lonely, so we’re going to go with him.”

“I like it here.”  Stanley put his head down and looked at his hero.  He could only see the lines that made up the hair on top of its blonde head and its broad shoulders.  He thought about lifting the muscular arms up in a defiant flight position, but he knew he would have to let go of the toy to do that.  Stanley wasn’t about to risk that for anything so he kept staring down, unmoving.

“We all like it here”, Stanley’s father replied.  “Y’know what, though?  We think we might like it out there.  We might have all kinds of fun there.  It’s a lot warmer out in Arizona.  You know how it gets dark and cold and snows out here?  Well they have lots more sun in the dessert.  You could be outside and talk to iguanas.”

“What’s an iggana?”

“It’s a lizard.  You know what lizards are, don’t you?  They’re like little dinosaurs”, Stanley’s mother offered. 

She had hit the magic word.  “Dinosaurs?”  Stanley’s eyes lit up.  “I get to live with dinosaurs?”

“They’re really small, but kind of.  They aren’t exactly dinosaurs, but they have green skin and they’re scaly, and they crawl around on tree branches.  Oh, and they have long tails too that they can sweep back and forth.”  Stanley’s mother could see her excitement was transferring over to her son.  He was no longer looking at the floor.  Now Stanley was staring off into space pondering the possibilities.

“Coooool.”

Image“Yeah, isn’t it?  Think about it”, Stanley’s father continued.  “Your little guy there could have all sorts of adventures.  He’s already saved New YorK City… I dunno… How many times Stanley?”

“A gabillion!”  Stanley was very proud of all the help he had provided his hero with in their never-ending mission.

“Don’t you think he might get a little bored of saving the same old buildings?”  Stanley’s father had shared his love of super-heroes with his son and knew exactly what approach to take.  “What if we take all your heroes to a new world?  They could have trips to alien worlds and see weird creatures.  Do you think they would like that?”

“Yeah”, Stanley answered.  “But when are we coming back?”

“Not for a long time, honey.”

“Oh.”  The reply Stanley got from his mother wasn’t the one he had hoped for.  “We can’t come back?”

“We might”, she answered.  “Don’t you think we should try out the new place first?  See how that goes?  We can’t give up too quick.  That wouldn’t be right.”

“I guess not.” 

Stanley’s father saw the sadness returning to his son’s face.  An idea hit him.  “Hey Stanley, you like your heroes, right?”

“Yeah”, he replied quietly.

“Well you like how brave they are, don’t you?  How they stand up for their friends and take on danger to help others?”

“Uh huh.”

“That’s what we need you to do.  We need you to be brave.” 

Stanley didn’t respond.

“Here’s what I think”, Stanley’s father continued.  “I think we should get you a mask.  And every time we start getting caught up in things that make you scared, you put on the mask.  That way you can be brave like your hero, there.”

“Can I have a belt too?”  Stanley’s voice held a hint of cautious hope. 

“I think that makes sense”, Stanley’s mother said.  “That way you could have pouches to put your toys in.  We wouldn’t want you to stare down trouble without your friends by your side.  Don’t forget though, we’ll both be there the whole time.”

“Do I get boots?”  Stanley was getting excited.

“Would I let you go stomping off into wonderful new worlds without boots?”  His father feigned injury at the suggestion.  What super-hero, or even sidekick, would go out without their boots?”

Stanley grinned.

“What do you say, Stanley”, his father asked.  “Can you be brave for us?”

Stanley nodded and vigorously shook his head up and down.  His parents looked on, quietly interlocking fingers and breathing a shared sigh of relief.  Stanley, back to his normal self, played with his toy in one hand and ate his macaroni with the other.  He could almost feel his belt and boots making him stronger already.

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