dan , you don’t belong here

Well , I promised a post about a mouse at a faculty meeting at St. Clement School so long ago , but I have to say right up front that the incident did not involve a real mouse . I had drawn a cartoon mouse on a rectangle of cardboard. The mouse was leaving a table ( not a faculty meeting ) around which several cartoon figures sat . There was a dialog bubble over the mouse saying : ” Dan , you don’t belong here .”

I’m Dan , so I was the mouse . Don’t read too much into that .

There was a time when I was experimenting with drawing cartoon figures . Around that cartoon table on the piece of cardboard were all of the faces that I was able to draw at the time . And the mouse , yes .  Why a mouse ? We won’t have time to hire a shrink to examine that question and to wait for her/his report . Sorry . We will just have to move along . I later took a silk screen course at Barnsdale Park in Hollywood during which I silk-screened three blind mice ; but that’s part of the psychological report we won’t have time to wait for here .

I had the idea that other teachers at the school  might get interested in cartooning , too . Kids like drawing cartoons . St. Clement was an elementary school . Maybe I could eventually get teachers interested in some kind of a school-wide project , so I quietly put my cardboard cartoon high on a wall in the school office , just above the faculty restroom . I suppose that I thought of it as a subtle inspiration  that might spark some interest among  other teachers . There were only eight of us , and we all got along pretty well.st cems school

I wasn’t getting any feedback about my secretly posted cartoon . No one mentioned it at all . And then , after a couple of  days , it disappeared . I asked the school secretary if she knew what had happened to it . She said she didn’t. 2 mice cartoon

A day or so later the school principal asked me at the end of the school day to step into her office . When I walked in she walked over behind me with pronounced solemnity and closed her office door . She then walked past me again and back behind her principal’s desk . She  pointed to a chair on  my side of the desk , a  front -and-center  -placed chair , and told me to sit down . She told me to sit down as if she were addressing a child , or an underling , with a formality that we ordinarily didn’t use at St. Clement School . So I was immediately on my guard , you know , waiting .

She pulled my cartoon on cardboard out of the drawer of her desk , held it high over her head with both of her hands , showing it to me ,  sort of in the classic Moses -with- the- Ten -Commandments  stance .  She glared at me and said in  a stern tone    ” What is this ?”

I knew that tone from childhood . Very familiar . Power -of -the -Parent tone . So I considered any response carefully for a moment or so .

A trick question ?  Maybe she was mad that I had posted the thing in the office area without her permission ?   But , there didn’t seem to be any question about what it was , so why is she asking such a  question ? I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising .

She continued to hold the thing over her head , figuratively over my head , as the question floated in the ether unanswered , suspended in the static uneasy tension of her office .

” It’s a cartoon , ” I said weakly , almost as if it were a question . I was confused .

She still held it over her head.   ” I recognize some of the people , but not all of them , ” she said .

Some of the people ? Now I was worried about her sanity .  What people , I wondered . Was I witnessing first -hand her mental breakdown ?

” This is me , ” she said , pointing at one of the figures around the cartoon table .  ” And this is Reynold . ”   She pointed at particular cartoon figures on the cardboard .  ” And this , I guess , is Kathy .”   Reynold was our vice principal . Kathy was one of the teachers .

” They’re nobody , ” I said . I tried to keep my voice calm ; soothing . ” They’re just random cartoon figures .” It was the truth .

” And I don’t know about some of the others , ” she continued . ” That’s probably Steve .”

” They’re nobody , ” I said . ” They’re just cartoons . Those are the only faces I know how to draw . ”  I briefly told her my idea for a school-wide cartoon drawing project , but  she wasn’t listening .

” You can leave my office now ! ” she said .

And that was that . I still have that cartoon somewhere in my garage . Now that I’m thinking of it , maybe that mouse was right , after all . Anyhow , I quit cartooning after that , but that consequence was purely coincidental .

2 Comments

Filed under humor

2 responses to “dan , you don’t belong here

  1. This is what happens when people are born without, or manage to lose their sense of humor.

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