The Short Order Cook
He stood exceedingly still. Not for a moment or a minute, but for many minutes at a time. This happened at least 3 times while I was eating at the counter. He looked in the fridge at one point. He waved goodbye to a customer, not saying anything. He checked under the grill for something when the counter waitress asked if they needed to reorder something. Otherwise he was still.
I had stopped in on a whim. It’s a very small hamburger joint, really just a counter and a cooking area with windows all around. I had passed it many times over 24 years of living in Tulsa, but had never gone in. Now I was out enjoying my birthday. I had already stopped by a coffee house to draw and a museum to wander and now it was lunch time. I passed the place and decided today would be a perfect day to finally stop in. I did a u-turn and made my way in to a seat at the counter.
There was another cook behind the counter and he was the one who made my lunch. I ordered a patty melt (my favorite type of burger) and fries, with a Dr. Pepper. It was not a diet day for me, obviously. The waitress didn’t really need to do much since the cook could hear me say my order and had it going before the waitress had it fully written down. She went around the corner into the back of the place and I didn’t see her until the minute my food was put on the plate, at which point she magically appeared to pick it up and walk it the 5 feet from the grill to my spot. She then turned around and in no more than 3 steps poured me my drink and gave it to me. She was all about the efficiency of movement.
While I was eating I drew this cook. He didn’t notice me drawing since he was staring out the window in what seemed like a daze. I imagined him seeing a fully made hamburger floating away out the window in front of him. I imagined him wishing he could follow. In the meanwhile, the meal was perfect. The patty melt was greasy, the fries were crisp and the drink was obnoxiously sweet.
As I left I said goodbye to the waitress and waved to the two cooks. I headed out the door and as I did I heard the waitress say, “You gonna move outa my way Bobby?” and the cook who stood exceedingly still said, “I really should.”
Drawing and story © 2018 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
I drew a group of knitters at ‘Shades of Brown’ coffee shop here in Tulsa last week. They call themselves the ‘Knit Wits’. I spent a good hour plus drawing then showed it to them. They seemed to enjoy it, which is always a nice end to a drawing session.
This is the final result, colored and shaded. Print and original available for purchase.
Here it is after the coloring but before the shading. Print available for purchase.
After I scanned it I decided to just play with a color design overlay, just to see what I could come up with. This is the result. Print available for purchase.
And here is the original drawing straight from the sketchbook. Print available for purchase.
I was going to write a story to go along with the drawing but I think the drawing tells a story all by itself.
Drawing © 2018 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
The Woman with Only Two Thoughts – An Illustrated Short Story
The Large and The Small
The woman wasn’t able to think anything but these two thoughts. Everything was either too large or too small. Things were never just right. Well, that isn’t exactly true. Sometimes the large thing was just right, even though it was large. And sometimes the small thing was just right, even though it was small. But most of the time the thing that was small should have been larger and the thing that was large should have been smaller.
This was true of real things, like cheese or mufflers, but it was also true of unreal things, like Jesus or monsters. She thought cheese was usually too large for her mouth and that mufflers were too small for her cars. She thought Jesus was too large for her morals and that monsters were too small to kill her enemies. She thought her books were too large or too small. The non-fiction ones always seemed too large. When she was 3/4 of the way through she almost always wanted them to be over. And she thought fiction ones were too small. Most of the time, when she finished a novel she didn’t want it to end.
She felt this way about her body. Her apartment was too small, for example, and the reason for that was that she was too large. She wasn’t large sideways, just up and down. That meant she hit her head on the door jams a lot. It meant her shower was too small. The water never hit her head unless she bent over. She hated that. She thought her breasts were too large but she didn’t want to get them reduced because she was afraid they might be then be too small. She thought her eyes were too small, but only because she had so many friends who had their eyes enlarged that hers looked small in comparison. Her neck was too small, unless you measured it, then it was too large. Her knees were definitely too large and her fingernails were definitely too small. The worst part was that her bladder was too small and her heart was too large.
Her social life had the same problem. Her circle of friends was too large but her number of close friends was too small. As a matter of fact she really didn’t have any close friends so she wasn’t really sure she could even call it too small. Is zero of something too small? The amount of people she was in charge of at work was too large. The amount of people she could complain to about how large this group of people was was too small. Then there were all the people she had to commute with on the train. That number was too large and that meant the number of seats on the train was too small. As a matter of fact, not only were there not enough seats the individual seats were too small. She hated seats that were too small.
Now that she thought about it, her emotional life was that way too. Emotions, hers or others, were always too large or too small. That is why her boyfriends usually left her they said. They would hit her and she would get angry. They would say, “You are making this issue too large and it’s just not.” Or sometimes it would be the opposite. She would feel nothing and say nothing, trying not to upset them and they would get mad and hit her, saying, “You think you can just hide away and be small in the corner but you can’t. I know you are plotting something and I won’t let you get away with it.”
The Just Right
Because of this, life was too large a struggle and she sometimes thought of killing herself. But she knew she never would because her courage was too small to do something that would hurt her or those she loved. And that thought always brought her back to what I mentioned at the start, that sometimes things weren’t too large or too small, but were just right. In spite of all her issues she always knew that the love her family had for her was that. It wasn’t too large so that it suffocated her and it wasn’t too small so she felt alone and abandoned. It was just right. The very large (but not too large) love her family had for her was the one thing that made all the other things small. And that was just right.
Oh, her shoe collection was just right too.
Seeing What Others Don’t
Because I am known to be an artist people aren’t surprised when I see things like patterns, details, connections, concepts, etc. that they don’t. They just chalk it up to ‘that’s because he is an artist.’ But I think people get it backwards. Seeing all those things is what made me an artist, not the other way around.
Not Saying No
Why did I and other artists see those things when others didn’t? Because we didn’t say ‘no’. We don’t dismiss an idea because it is not approved. We don’t dismiss a vision because it doesn’t make sense. We don’t dismiss a connection between things because the connection has never been made before. In other words we don’t follow rules.
Rule Followers, Rule Breakers
Wait, I take that back. We don’t follow some rules but we do follow others. That is why some artists are radicals and shock everyone (they follow very few rules) and other artists are the darlings of the rule followers (because they only break very insignificant rules, if any).
How Radical Are You?
in the context of the quote and illustration above you might say the skeptic is the radical, right? She broke the rules of her religion, no longer believing what her religion says she must believe. But if that skeptic merely exchanges one set of rules, the religious ones, for the skeptics’ set of rules, how much has really changed? How much has she really seen in a new or fresh way? It might appear she has at first since obviously there is a breaking away from a set of rules, but then she becomes as doctrinaire as she ever was as a religious follower and nothing really has changed.
The truly free person is the one who holds their ideas and rules lightly. It’s not that they never hold on to them but they aren’t bound to them to such an extent that they don’t see beyond them. They are willing to consider new and strange ideas, issues, images without judgment beforehand. They are willing to see connections that aren’t immediately apparent.
Drawing and commentary © 2018 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“Skepticism is like faith: both are substitutes for seeing.” – Bert Hellinger, 1925 – not dead yet, German Psychotherapist
The Adventures of Medusa
Medusa Walks the Runway
Medusa decided she wanted to be a model. She went to Stone Mountain Modeling School and got a job as a runway model. She walked for the famous House of Gorgon but wore an outfit no one really liked. They sat stone-faced as she walked by and, Medusa being Medusa, you know what happened next.