If you want to know why I said yes to Grayson right away, here are my five reasons:
1. I’m an overthinker. I tend to overthink things and end up creating a problem that wasn’t even there. So if I told Grayson “I’d think about it” (the damn phrase comes out of my mouth so much it’s practically my catchphrase), I’d…probably overthink it.
2. I’d never joined an art show before! Well, okay, I joined one when I was seven. But I drew a girl with very big lips and named the piece “Never Been Kissed.”
3. I’d never been asked by a friend to join him in an art show before!
4. Grayson was my first (and so far, only) friend in John Adams.
5. It felt good knowing someone thought my artwork was art show worthy.
During the weekend, Grayson and I decided to meet up at the playground so we could go to our first location. Grayson, however, wouldn’t tell me where the hell we were going to.
“That’s my boy,” my dad said as I walked out of the house. “A couple of days in and he’s already got his friend kidnapping him for a metaphor.”
“Whatever, Greg,” I said as I closed the door.
Walking with Grayson, however, to wherever we were going to, got me thinking about what my dad said. A lot. Grayson had just met me. I could be a murderer, for all he knew. (Even if the only thing I’ve killed is my motivation to do anything school-related.)
Also, how was he so sure I was really that talented? He skimmed a few pages of my sketchbook. I’m flattered, really, but was he desperate? Something fishy was going on.
Of course, that may be because I was standing in front of a HUGE STATUE OF A FISH.
“What am I looking at?” I asked, stunned.
“You, my friend, are looking at Wilson Bridge’s main attraction, the Grand Fish Statue,” Grayson said. “Which makes no sense whatsoever; there are no beaches or lakes in Connecticut.”
Grayson was right. Yet, standing in the middle of the town’s park, was a statue of a fish just my height, standing on a pedestal. Grayson nudged me. “So, what do you think it symbolizes, Mr. Art Guy?”
“I…don’t know,” I said. “I’d have to know its history. Did aliens drop it by accident or -”
“Trust me, I almost bought the alien theory,” Grayson said. “But it’s been here forever and no aliens have come back to claim it. If aliens did drop it, they certainly have no intention of getting it back.”
Grayson grabbed his camera out of his bag and started taking pictures. “I was thinking maybe I’d take a picture of it from its back, so it looks like a person looking at the park,” he said after a few shots. “Except, you know, it’s a fish. What do you think?”
“I think that’d be cool,” I said. “Problem, though – I’m not very good at drawing things from the back.”
Grayson looked at me, all confused. “You don’t have to sketch it from the same point of view,” he said. “In fact, why don’t you do some sketching while I take some pictures?”
Oh. “Sure,” I said. “I think I’ll go by that bench over there. Seems cozy.”
Twenty minutes had passed and Grayson had finished taking his pictures. I, however, was still in the process of finishing my sketch.
“Oooh, that looks good,” Grayson said, looking over at my sketchbook. He sat down beside me. “So, what were you thinking about while we were on our way here?”
“What makes you think I was thinking?”
“You were pretty quiet on the way here,” Grayson said. “You could pass it off saying that you’re just the quiet type, and that may fool a lot of people, but it definitely won’t fool me. Trust me, spending all your free time on an empty playground makes you think way too much. Sometimes I say stuff out loud just to get them off my brain.”
I chuckled. “You wouldn’t want to hear it.”
Grayson faked a gasp. “And after all the time we spent together.”
I shrugged. “I was just thinking about what you said, that day at the playground,” I said while sketching. “About being lonely. Hey, if you’ve lived here all your life, how come you told me you didn’t have friends?”
“You are not at that level of friendship yet to unlock that back story,” Grayson said. “And I do have friends. Just not…friends. Get back to sketching!”
I laughed and continued sketching. Grayson sure was the talker. He talked to me all throughout the process.
“Lizzie McGuire is your favorite old Disney Channel series?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Grayson said, walking in a circle around the bench. “I mean, it’s relatable, it’s honest, it’s about friendship, not to mention that Hilary Duff was the biggest thing back then.”
“Well, I mean, Lizzie McGuire was good,” I said while sketching. “But not as good as That’s So Raven. Now THAT was hilarious.”
“Wait – how far back are we going here?” Grayson asked. “Does That’s So Raven count? I thought we were talking about the real old Disney series here.”
“How far apart were Lizzie and Raven?”
“I don’t even remember being told Santa Claus wasn’t real,” Grayson said. “It was never this big revelation. I just knew it some time while growing up.”
“Well, you’re lucky,” I said, tapping my pencil on the pad. “When my parents told me Santa Claus wasn’t real, I freaked. I used to believe in him so much because every morning when I woke up, there’d be two presents – one from my parents, one from Santa.”
Grayson laughed. “Well, I cried because of the tooth fairy,” he said. “I used to believe in her so much – but my mom had told me that the tooth fairy would only collect teeth from good boys, so I was so disappointed in myself when I woke up and found the tooth still under my pillow.”
“I embarrassingly went through a John Hughes phase,” I said, answering Grayson’s question.
“John Hughes is great!” Grayson said. “There’s nothing embarrassing about that!”
“Yeah, if you’re a guy who uses Tumblr and claims to be born in the wrong generation,” I said with a chuckle. “I mean, yeah. The Breakfast Club is a classic, but would we really think Ferris Bueller was that cool if it had been released this year?”
“I haven’t seen that one yet,” Grayson said. “And is that your criteria for everything old? See if their greatness withstands the test of time?”
I shrugged. “Maybe.”
“My first camera was this disposable one that could only take 20 photos,” Grayson said. “I bought it when we went to the pool. Of course, it didn’t last very long – I swam with it in my pocket.”
“Tough luck,” I said. “Those photos could’ve been amazing.”
“I know, right?” Grayson said, leaping off the bench. “Those photos could’ve been National Geographic worthy! And now we’ll never find out, thanks to pockets in swimming trunks. Curse you, pockets in swimming trunks!”
“Are you almost done with the drawing?”
“Yup!” I said, rubbing my eraser on the pad. The sketch looked almost good to go – the only thing missing was the tail. “Wait, how long has it been?”
“I don’t know,” Grayson said. “We’ve burned through so many topics it feels like we’ve been talking for hours.”
I checked the clock on my phone. “It’s only been two hours, relax.”
“Time must be moving pretty slowly today,” Grayson said, holding his chin. “Do you usually take this long?”
I shrugged. “I think so, but I can’t be sure,” I said. “I’ve never had a reason to time myself before.”
After fifteen minutes, I had finally finished my sketch, and it looked pretty good – I was more than proud of it. And at least now I didn’t have to worry about Grayson getting bored while I was sketching – he was quite the conversationalist. But I didn’t mind. I actually liked it.
Along the way home, something caught both Grayson’s and my eyes – an orchestra was sitting still in the middle of the street. And beside them stood a sign that said in bold letters: CONDUCT US.
“This town just keeps getting weirder and weirder,” I said.
“It’s the Bible Orchestra!” Grayson said. “I remember them doing this last year. Some promotion to get more people to join. It’s pretty fun.”
People were hovering over the orchestra now, and some were even taking pictures. But the orchestra members remained still, only moving to adjust their seats or tune their instruments. “You wanna check it out?” Grayson said. I didn’t even get to answer that question, because Grayson grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the orchestra.
Grayson grabbed that stick thing the conductor uses in an orchestra performance, and pointed at the violinists. Suddenly, the violinists started playing their violins.
Oh. So that’s what they meant by CONDUCT US.
Grayson kept doing this. The music didn’t even make sense, but it sounded like a mismatch of instruments, but Grayson kept at it, looking lively and serious, like he knew what he was doing. I laughed. Watching him trying to conduct an orchestra was fun to watch.
After Grayson had finished, he took a bow and everybody clapped.
“I had no idea you were so talented!” I said.
“I know, I am a man of many talents,” Grayson said. The stick was now in the hands of what looked like a ten-year-old, and I knew we had to get out of there fast if we wanted our ears to remain intact. “You sure you don’t want to try?”
“Nah, it’s fine,” I said. “Watching you conduct was fun enough. Anyway, we better leave before our ears start hurting.”
Grayson looked back to see who was conducting. “Oooh, you’re right.”
Grayson and I walked back home. We said our goodbyes when I reached my gate. And I was greeted by a note taped to our front door.
New chapters every Sunday!