Well, I'm off to a preschool art show this afternoon, at my nephew's Montessori school, something that's bound to be a new experience.

I'm reminded of the one(?) and only time I ever tried to do something "creative" with an ink dispensing instrument. In first or second grade, for some reason I had to go to the room across the hall from my class. It was dark, I was alone, and I had to wait some ungodly amount of time for the teacher - a fairly tough character who probably felt like she had to prove that she didn't give preferential treatment to the token white kid.

While I was waiting, I took a marker and drew on the armrest of my desk. I was on autopilot, and I'm pretty sure I had no idea what I was doing. Eventually, I had a completed picture on the pale polished wood, and I allowed myself to see what it was. It was a spaceship (one of those sporty two-seater models), and I was convinced it was an absolute masterpiece.

It was so good, in fact, that I couldn't wait for the teacher to come back so I could show it off. I probably thought that they would keep the desk permanently on display in the principal's office. Instead, her reaction was a far more typical one, and after scrubbing the desk cleaner than I found it, I did go see the principal, but not for the accolades that were obviously in order.

I never did try to draw anything again after that, but I don't know if I should blame my own tendency to want to please people or an inherent lack of ability. At any rate, ghetto teachers in the eighties were probably under strict instructions to prevent any more graffiti writers. Montessori teachers, on the other hand, may be trying to churn out as many as possible, providing that they're instilled with a strong sense of social responsibility.