POSTED ON APRIL 2, 2008:
Some things you want to sign off on, some things you don't
It happens to me when I'm paying the bills, or finishing up a letter, and each time an adoring, star-struck fan, after blathering on and on about my fresh and witty insight into everything Tulsa, asks for an autograph (the latter of which will be slightly to completely fictionalized for purpose of this article, but entirely possible). During the brief pause between signing my first and last name I think: This is me. I am proud of what I've created here. It's the only time I ever think this outside of a kitchen. I'm not terribly kinesthetic.
In my pre-pubescent or dreamy years, my brother and I would spend overly rainy days inside practicing our signatures to compliment our sunny, blistery, or lesser rainy days of continuous basketball. Lay-up, jump shot, bounce pass. We did it all. It took me months to master the between the legs dribble. I'll display it from time to time if I feel like showing off. It's my trump card for impressing new friends, potential bosses, or girlfriend.
There are three keys to a good signature in the professional world: 1) It must flow effortlessly. You've got a lot of people requesting signatures and you still want to be able to converse with the recipients while you sign their memorabilia, body parts, prescriptions, etc. 2) It cannot and should not be legible (see number 1). You don't have time to get all the letters in. Shoot for initials and some scribbling. 3) It has to be unique. Think of the proper cursive you learned in grade school and throw in a twist or several twists. You're aiming for the following reaction:
"Brian, check this out."
"What's up, Wade?"
"You know that tall, famous guy that's on TV? He was on channel six or 17 just last week."
"What about him?"
"That's his signature! I met him at QuikTrip. He signed my beef jerky receipt. He was buying some gum! Cool, huh?"
"That's awesome! I can't believe he chews gum!"
As a child, that's what I was shooting for when I labored over my signature for weeks and weeks. As a result, I have a ridiculous signature. It's nonsensical and always reminds me of my brother, which is a good thing, and that I'm no NBA superstar, also a good thing.
I am always reminded of the time and imagination that went into creating that signature when I go to something truly innovative.
A couple weeks ago, I attended Geoffrey Hicks' (www.geoph.com) interactive art show at the Tulsa Artists' Coalition (www.tacgallery.org) for the New Genre Festival. It was the first time I'd seen tetherball played indoors. Additionally, it was new to see a couple reacting to tetherball by making out. In Tulsa, tetherball and Twinkies are considered erotic. Maybe it's just the alliteration.
The TAC is a small gallery, no larger than an average living room, at 9 E. Brady. By the time you read this Geoffrey's work will no longer be hanging from the TAC walls, but Geoffrey, one of Tulsa's more innovative artists, will still be around. If you have yet to see his work I suggest keeping your eyes open for his next show, because it's unlike any other you will attend.
For me, it was a night filled with watching friends pummel a tetherball. One, a man, with the only edge he thought he needed: being a man; the other, a woman, with years of tetherball experience. I'll let you guess on the victor, but will add: she was really good and he was a he. For the remainder of the evening I left childish phone messages, observed people trapped in boxes, and turned on and off lights to get a better view of an attractive woman. Somehow it all seemed perfectly normal until I just explained it.
Reason for the Season
On a completely different note, last week was Easter, a holiday that many of you surely spent with your families. The Easter contact I had with my family was limited to a phone conversation where my father cleverly accused me of being a Chreaster, a term I deeply hope he coined. Apparently a Chreaster is a person who only visits a church building on Christmas and Easter. It's slightly goofy, but no less goofy than other terms my father has coined or decided to repeat. I admit it could be cute in a different context, but anything associated with church attendance always has just a tinge of guilt wrapped into it.
I wish I could have playfully hugged him instead of uncomfortably recapping this year's church attendance record, but none of the cell phone packages I've looked into offer a physical hug. Just unlimited text messages and Dad's not there yet. To be honest, I'm not either.
I spent my Easter with my girlfriend and her family in Sedan, Kansas, a cute, cuddly little town one feels they could get their arms around if they were just a little bigger. Instinct tells me there are many places similar to Sedan within a 100-mile radius of Tulsa. Urban sprawl to the north and west of Tulsa is surprisingly concentrated. I need to continue asking questions to fully understand it.
I don't do a lot of walking about farms while living in a city, so I enjoyed dodging cow pies and impersonating cattle, one of my favorite pastimes, upon my visit.
Being in such a small community at a family event is unlike any other experience. If things were to get uncomfortable, which they didn't, what could I say, "Well, I better get down to Floyd's. He has some new produce coming in today that he wanted me to look over."
No! No! No! You see, Floyd's is closed today and he's probably at the picnic. Isn't Alan's dad named Floyd? Surely there aren't two Floyds!
There's no going to Best Buy or Walgreen's. There's no escape. It's new people everywhere and they're all related.
"Look, Isaac. That's Susan's brother's mother and Alan's daughter's puppy over there. They love hiding eggs!"
Which one was Susan, again? Isn't Alan's daughter in Wyoming?
It's all new, all the time, but I enjoyed it. I hope one day I will be able to have a family picnic with my siblings' children and grandchildren. I just hope somebody in the family tree gets the recipe for that homemade Chunky Monkey ice cream from the picnic. I should have asked the second Floyd about it when I was giving him my signature. Hindsight is 20/20.
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