Connecting the Dots

There are many things that Shop Boy did as a junior high school student.

He drank way too much beer for the first time and got early lessons in how to drive — not simultaneously. You think I’m crazy?

A buddy usually handled that part.

Annoyed by the repeated nuisance of standardized tests, Shop Boy would skip the questions and instead think of a visual pattern and carefully, with a perfectly sharpened No. 2 pencil, fill in the circles that would create it. Or, he’d think of a song and try to complete one line of the test per drum beat.

What? Tell me you never did that …

Shop Boy often turned a small pimple on the chin into a gaping wound visible for miles through an, um, overreaction to its presence. (“No, it isn’t a zit. I simply got grazed by a bullet last night in a very heroic situation.”)

Then there were the clumsy first steps toward what would become a post-college love affair that ended so clumsily … ugh. Let’s just say that Shop Boy can count on one or two fingers the women who truly dislike him — if they think of him at all. Shop Boy earned the hatred of both in the span of a week and has been trying to make it up to women, and himself, ever since.

Shop Boy also set lead type, carved linoleum blocks and ran a treadle-powered old C&P in printshop class.

Most of the silly things you do in junior high you outgrow.


“I’ve got a present for you,” Mary said. “Close your eyes and hold out your hands.”

Now, Shop Boy once plopped a live rabbit into Mary’s hands after saying the same thing, so …

I looked the box over and suddenly remembered a discussion we’d had a week or two before. Being reminded of Shop Boy’s junior high industrial arts days, Mary had wondered aloud whether he should try his hand once again at the linoleum block thing. “I guess so … I guess.”

Now, Shop Boy isn’t usually superstitious or worried about “signs” from the gods or whatever, but:

Inside the box of five Flexcut linoleum carving tools of varying blade shapes and sizes was another smaller, brightly colored container.

For Band-Aids.

Did I mention that my “experience” with linoleum blocks was carving out a little, happy sun with bright, sharp sunbeams spreading out all around the sphere. Except for that one spot where the tool had slipped and created a flattop haircut.

Regular Picasso of the linoleum block, little Shop Boy was. Hey, wait a minute. Maybe I’d been channeling him all along.

Either way, this should be interesting. We bought a couple of cheapo blocks so that Shop Boy can work on reawakening any latent artistic spirit that might be lurking back there somewhere.

But what should be my first amazing bit of linoleum block art?

I did see this really neat pattern one time on this standardized test.

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