As a belated birthday gift, Rosalyn’s mother got her a group painting class coupon. Her mother, ever scatter-brained, dropped it off at Rosalyn’s apartment with a card and a crisp ten dollar bill. Her mother literally said the words “don’t spend it all in one place” as if that would even be possible.
“You’ll have to buy gum in two separate locations,” Tallulah said.
Rosalyn invited her closest friends to her evening of painting. The coupon said there would be wine, but also that students were allowed to bring in alcohol of their own so Doug brought a water cooler of gin and lemonade that he had to haul to the art studio in a wagon he’d borrowed from his five year old nephew Henry. Careful not to be swindled or taken advantage of, Henry had demanded Doug’s watch as collateral.
“Jokes on him, though,” Doug said to Rosalyn, Tallulah, and Priscilla as he pulled his wagon into the art studio. “That watch only cost me forty dollars.”
“Jokes on him? He’s a child. And he has your forty dollar watch,” Tallulah retorted, but Doug ignored her.
The other attendees were Matt from the outdoor sporting goods store, Baby Teeth, and Rosalyn’s friend Britt from high school, who was still very single and very interested in Matt. Matt, bless him, had no idea what to do with that. Britt was quite sexually aggressive and Matt was about as outgoing as moss.
“Poor, Matt,” Priscilla remarked as she watched Britt hit on Matt. She’d been doing it without pause for roughly twenty minutes and Matt was growing increasingly nervous as time passed. He kept glancing around the room, as if searching for help that would never come. Rosalyn knew for a fact that Matt knew what Baby Teeth’s real name was, but he refused to tell her so Rosalyn fully intended to let him suffer through an evening at Britt’s mercy. If she hadn’t done it already, Britt would for sure make a joke about Matt being a nude model for the painting class.
“I almost wish this was a pottery class because there would be some serious Ghost situations,” Rosalyn returned. “Featuring Britt as Patrick Swayze obviously.”
“Obviously,” Tallulah nodded.
Rosalyn had been hoping that, at some point during the evening, she would learn Baby Teeth’s real name. She was past thinking her friends would tell her, but she thought the teacher might say it out loud or ask for it. But, as it turned out, Baby Teeth knew the painting teacher. They’d gone to prom together. Rosalyn would feel threatened if she cared more about hers and Baby Teeth’s relationship, but seeing as she was still calling him Baby Teeth about a month in, she barely registered it at all. Plus their painting teacher was weird.
Her name was Crystal, she owned parrots, she was an environmentalist, and she brought up her “lover” at least four times in ten minutes of conversation. Apparently, her lover liked to make candles and vegan sugar cookies that were, in Crystal’s words, to die for. Crystal had some of said vegan sugar cookies to share and, after eating half of her own vegan sugar cookie, Rosalyn could confirm that they were not in fact to die for.
“I feel cheated,” she whispered to Doug, mouth full of vegan sugar cookie. It tasted like sand. It also had the same texture of sand. It dissolved in the mouth and didn’t get better from there.
“I would not die for these,” Doug returned. “I might die to avoid eating one of these.”
“I wonder if it bothers Baby Teeth at all that she keeps talking about her lover,” Rosalyn mused after choking down the vegan sugar cookie she had in her mouth. “They were high school sweethearts after all.”
“I bet it doesn’t bother him half as much as it would to learn that you honestly refer to him as Baby Teeth because you don’t actually know what his real name is,” Doug returned shrewdly. “And also not nearly as much as it bothers me that she keeps using the word lover.”
“Well it’s not the worst thing about her,” Rosalyn shrugged. “She owns birds.”
“Ugh, birds,” Doug replied, wrinkling his nose in disgust. Rosalyn had never been prouder to call him a friend.
Crystal talked about painting like she talked about her lover; with far too much enthusiasm. Rosalyn and her friends were only there because Rosalyn’s scatter-brained mother had thought it would be a nice idea and also she’d gotten a coupon online. Rosalyn suspected the latter had more to do with it than the former; her mother couldn’t resist a good coupon. The amount of effort Rosalyn was willing to put in to a landscape painting of some lavender bushes in front of a river was minimal. She knew her limitations and art was one of them. Add on to that the fact that all of them were drinking heavily from Doug’s wagon-cooler of gin and lemonade and there was no chance any of them would be leaving with the masterpiece Crystal was certain they would be able to create.
“My lavender bushes look like grapes,” Priscilla announced partway through the class, a plastic cup of gin and lemonade in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. Rosalyn craned her neck to see Priscilla’s painting two easels over. They did in fact look like grapes.
“Feel the creative energy,” Crystal said to Priscilla in response. “Let your senses take over. Imagine yourself in a bed of lavender. Paint from that sensory imagining.”
Priscilla stared at her for a long moment.
“How will that make my lavender bushes look any less like grapes?” She asked. Crystal didn’t answer.
“My lover and I once frolicked through a field of lavender,” was what she said instead, sighing wistfully. “The sun was warm on our shoulders and our spirits were free.”
“She needs to work on making her spirit a little less free, if you ask me,” Doug hissed to Rosalyn. “It’s free enough. No one frolics. Only crazy people frolic.”
By the end of the class, everyone has ostensibly finished their paintings, though they all appeared to be in varying degrees of completion. Matt, for instance, had surprised everyone and created a very lifelike landscape painting of some lavender in front of a river. Crystal was most impressed. She was, however, far less impressed, but trying not to show it, with Baby Teeth’s painting. He’d had some trouble mixing the paint to get the right colours so his finished product ended up looking like mud in front of a riverbank, which was also mud.
“A classic,” Tallulah said quietly to Priscilla and Rosalyn as the three of them looked at Baby Teeth’s painting. “Something for you two to hang above your future mantle for sure.”
“Aw,” Priscilla said, holding a hand to her heart. “Rosalyn and Baby Teeth’s very first painting.”
Rosalyn glared at both of them, but all they did was laugh.