Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Paid $35 for A Caricature That Looks Nothing Like Me

Act #265:  Maybe life should be more like a caricature?

I had the rare opportunity to pick my 6-year old up from school last Friday and on our way home, we stumbled upon our small town's most popular street festival - the Spoonbread Festival.  Yes, it is true that we dedicate an entire weekend to cornbread so heavenly, so dense, so moist, so buttery, that it must be eaten with a spoon - but clearly I'm digressing.  Back to me and my kid.  So I picked up my kid and we decided to take a little detour in search of the fair's best corndog and orange cream slushee... and that we did.  But during our journey, we came across a cool little booth with a caricature artist.  He took costume requests.  As we looked over the samples hanging all over the booth tent, we had quite a bit of very important questions for the artist that went something like this.  Can you make me Red Skull and my mama a girl Captain America?  Can you make me not show as much cleavage, particularly since my son will be sitting on my lap?  Much to the relief of the artist, we finally settled on our large bobble heads being strategically placed on the cartoon bodies of gladiators.  Coolest mom ever, right? 

We sat there for about 20 minutes waving at all the people we knew.  Keeping our heads kinda, sorta still, per the artist's request.  He studied our profiles intently, cocked his head every once in a while, as we sat there eagerly anticipating his comic strip interpretation of our faces.  And then the moment we were all waiting for came.  He said we were free to move, and he slowly turned the caricature around.  And I was so very underwhelmed.  The female gladiator looked nothing like me!  Luckily my kid didn't notice and thought it was the coolest thing ever.  The male gladiator did slightly resemble him, but I swear, the female one looked, dare I say.....Caucasian?  The guy was so nice and seemed to be trying so hard, so I painfully handed over my $35 for a picture of my son and some white girl gladiator.  Perhaps he worked from a template of standard profiles?  Perhaps he did not notice my almond shaped eyes and my brown skin?  And just when I started to wish I had $35 worth of funnel cakes instead, it occurred to me that this artist gave me exactly what I had been hoping for. 

Like I said, I live in a small town.  There were no other Asians at this festival, except for the lady selling the batik dresses.  There might have been one black person.  On this day, I didn't want to represent anyone.  I just wanted to blend in and give my son a sweet childhood memory.  I wanted to be mom, not Plain Jane.  I wanted to hear the fall leaves crunch beneath our feet while we walked around with steamy paper bags of kettle corn.  I wanted exactly what the caricature gave me - a moment to be viewed just like everyone else.  

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