A couple of nights ago, I picked up my college freshman at his dorm to take him for the 13th (and probably last) time to the opening of his art class’s gallery show at the downtown Salt Lake City Library. For this year’s entry, my son chose “The Kelpies” — a majestic painting he did of two 100-foot-high horse head sculptures that we saw two years ago while zipping along the M-9 freeway in Scotland.
After mingling at the reception for about 30 minutes, my boy posed for a few snaps with his beloved teacher and hugged her goodbye, telling her that he’d try to come by for a few additional lessons this fall. But I could sense that they both knew he’d likely gone as far as he could in the children’s art class he’d taken once a week since kindergarten.
My son was quiet as we walked to the library parking lot.
“Hey — do you suppose that we could persuade her to start a class for adults?” I asked, hoping to brighten his mood. “Hell, I might even take that.”
My son quickly snapped to attention. “No way!”
“Why not?” I said. “I love art. Maybe she could help me to move beyond ‘Stick Figures 101.'”
“No, what I meant was, ‘No way, am I going to take a class with my mom,'” he said. “That’s seriously too weird. Do you mind if we talk about something else, please?”
“Okay, sure. How about your favorite subject. Food. Do you want to grab some dinner? You name the place.”
My son’s sunny demeanor made an instant comeback. “You know what sounds good? That drive-in you and dad always used to take us when we were little. Hires. Can we go there? I’m suddenly craving a cheeseburger and a strawberry shake.”
At Hires, we put in his order, plus a veggie burger for me and a mountain of freshly-cut fries to share, then I got caught up with how he’s enjoying his chemistry, calculus and biology classes. Chemistry class was a little too easy thus far, he said, and his biology and calculus classes were far too long, but “my teachers are pretty cool, and so far, I’ve only met two annoying people.”
I laughed and grabbed another French fry. “What? Only two? I thought the world was full of annoying people. Like me, for instance.”
My son grinned. “Yeah, for sure.” There was silence for a moment, then he added, “Actually, you’re OK. Some of the time. Maybe half of the time.”
Later, after I’d dropped him off at the dorm and thanked him for being my date, I smiled all the way home. “Half of the time.”