Ask a random person to draw for 10 seconds

March 2, 2010


I believe that quite a lot of people, though they profess otherwise, are secretly hams. I am a case in point. If you asked me whether I was shy, I would unhesitatingly answer with an emphatic YES! But anyone who has spent even the smallest amount of time around me would beg to differ. I inherited an odd combination of my mother’s effervescence and my father’s reserve. The bubbles often win.

But I digress.

The assignment was as stated in the title above. My first victim was our office mailman, Jim. Jim was our mailman when I started my job in March 1995. We are in our second office in the neighborhood and a couple of weeks ago, Jim started his third stint as our bearer of bills and junk mail. I know him pretty well. He is a bowler. I thrust my fluorescent green Post-It™ pad and brick red Sharpie® at him and said, “Draw for ten seconds, please!” Not surprisingly he asked, “Draw what?”

After clarifying that it could be anything, he put pen to paper for a good two and a half seconds. Not surprisingly, he drew a bowling ball. I also would have accepted an envelope or a stamp. I informed him that he still had seven and a half seconds left. “Would you like me to enhance it?” Please do. He added the brand name Hammer.

Back in college when I started bowling “for real” and throwing fingertip, my first urethane ball was a Pink Hammer. It was hard as a rock and is still my sentimental favorite, even though in technology terms, it would be like surfing the internet using a 256 baud modem.

But I digress.

I took my Post-It pad along to my bowling league in the evening, where I figured I could talk one or two other people into drawing for me. My first target was Brett. I know all of his team well, we were on neighboring lanes, and Brett and I were sharing space on the same table. It was inevitable.

At first, he blinked at me like a deer in headlights. Fortunately, I had to go take my next shot, so the performance pressure was lessened. When I came back, there was the upper right nice little drawing. I know Brett likes his tropical vacations so I was able to reassure him that it was was determinable as a palm tree and beach.

The team opposing Brett’s was the one of which the bowler Tom Kasper (of Tiny-bunny fame) is a member. I determined that Tom would be my next artist. That was when all hell broke loose and my ham hypothesis gained some traction.

Though it was to Tom to whom I next offered the Post-It pad and pen, he barely had time to make his nice little sketch of the target arrows on the bowling alley before the next and next and next people were clamoring for their chance to make a ten-second drawing.

Tom’s teammate Craig made a quite accurate caricature of their teammate Gary. From there, sometimes substitute bowler Randy confiscated the pad and pen and gave them to the youngster Jasmine, a five- or six-year-old who I assume was one of the bowlers’ daughter (must have been Craig’s? because I’m pretty familiar with everyone who was on that pair other than him, and nobody else has young children), who drew the second face of the evening. At least I assume it’s a face; otherwise, it’s a bowling ball with facial hair. After Jasmine, Randy made his own drawing, the hypnotizing swirl.

From there, I tapped my own teammate Ken, who was one of the brainstormers for the Tiny-bunny ideas. He produced the second tree of the evening along with what, at the time, made me think of telephone poles but which now I see more as silver dandelions in summer—a hopeful scene from the depths of a Minnesota winter.

Our final contestant was my friend Dick, Brett’s teammate (or vice versa, depending on how you look at it), who plaintively asked, “Can’t I draw, too?” Well, of course you can. His entry was this content-looking face. I see it as someone resting peacefully on a really comfy pillow.

I don’t think any of these people would say they can draw. Would you? I sure wouldn’t. I’m a graphic designer, and I get by because I can use a computer. When my hand is required to manipulate a drawing implement, I am stumped. But in the social situation, the lemmings raced each other to the cliff.


Huh. Going in, I was thinking this would be one of my shorter entries but it turned out otherwise. Once again, interesting what happens when you do not choose the topic.

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