28 May, 2009

Forget those prompts. This is GOLD.

It is important that I share this story with you all while it is still fresh in my mind. This is one of those experiences that is only funny AFTER it's all over.

To set the scene: As most of you know, I occasionally model nude for art classes in Utah Valley. I understand if you have personal objections to the idea, but I can justify this decision as follows:

1. Modeling nude for artists is no more sexual than being nude while your doctor gives you an examination. To professional artists, I am not a naked women. I am a human landscape.

2. If someone were, theoretically, to judge me by my appearance, they are just as likely, if not more likely, to pass judgment on me when I am clothed. Thus, being naked in front of art students does not damage my self-esteem or make me worry that they are judging me based on my body. Most of the students barely remember that I am a human body at all (see #1).

3. Modeling pays handsomely and I desperately need the money.

4. Learning how to properly draw "the contours of the female form" (if you can name the movie I will buy you lunch ... I mean it) is an important skill for artists to learn. I am serving a purpose just like the good folks who participate in medical studies.

5. I feel obligated to donate blood as often as I can, and the main reason why I feel this strong sense of obligation is that giving blood doesn't bother me. I can even watch the needle go into my arm. No big deal. In a similar way, because being naked in front of others doesn't disturb me the way it might disturb others, I feel that I am doing humanity a service by fulfilling this purpose so someone else doesn't have to. Taking one for the team. Of humanity.

Anyway, if you're still not on board, we'll have to agree to disagree, and you probably shouldn't keep reading this.

So tonight I worked at an open drawing session at Utah Valley University. A fine institution, by the way. I have been nothing but impressed by the caliber of the art and theater programs there. Anyway, tonight's class was pretty small, so it only lasted an hour. There were only six people there--all guys. Which isn't unusual because there seem to be a lot more guys in the UVU art program than the BYU one. Probably something to do with money. But I digress.

We began the class with gestures, which are short drawings meant to capture the essence of a certain pose. Because they are so short, one can generally pose a little more interestingly: bending, twisting, lying on one's side, etc. I walked up to the platform, took off my robe, and stood in the center with my right foot at ninety degrees and my arms folded. Pretty standard art pose. but the red-headed kid sitting directly in front of me exhaled loudly in the silent classroom.

"Wow ...." he said, as if he had never seen a naked woman before (it occurs to me now that it's possible he hadn't until that moment). "Beautiful."

This was not the most comfortable moment of my life. My next pose was kneeling, with my head turned away from Carrot Top.

"Awww..." he said. "Don't turn away.... heh heh heh" To which one of the other guys, whom I now love and would happily marry if he asked, said, "Dude. Shhhhh."

This meant war. Thankfully, aside from one or two other muttered compliments (each about how I was "beautiful") the rest of the hour was silent. During my break, Ginger tried to strike up a conversation, but I shut him down with a dirty look and a one-word, borderline rude answer. I have no tolerance for people I don't like, and I did not like this kid. If you know me, you know this.

After half an hour of gestures, I did a long pose for about half an hour. I amused myself the entire time by planning a meticulous speech that would both shame him and learn him some manners. It went a little something like:

"Laying aside the fact that I am a human being and a daughter of God, and the fact that no woman deserves to be treated the way you treated me the first fifteen minutes of this class, I am a professional figure model for the art department of a university. I am not a porn star, and if I wanted someone to look at me naked and make weird noises I could be making a lot more than twenty dollars an hour elsewhere. If I ever see you again at an event like this, I will kick you out unless you display the same courtesy everyone else here does."

Beautiful, no? Searing, yet classy. And without a single swear, though I planned a couple alternative versions that were laced with profanity. And I was all set to let this kid have it, too. Until the class was over.

Afterwards, Archie thanked me profusely, asked me if I liked his drawing (I did not) and left. As he got up to walk out, however, I noticed that he was severely handicapped. Looked like cerebral palsy, but possibly another form of palsy. He spoke to some of the other students as the class was packing out, and although he was, in fact, a bona fide UVU art student, he was clearly not all there. I couldn't yell at a handicapped person. Shaming him wouldn't have helped. So I let him walk out, and though I was neither friendly nor polite, I didn't bitch him out.

As soon as he walked out, the other guys all walked up to me and apologized. One of the them even gave me five dollars. The most intimidating guy, who had piercings and tattoos and frankly scared me a little initially, was the most contrite and walked me out of the building. The other artists were the epitome of class. Each one apologized for not telling him off, but admitted they didn't know what to say, which is understandable. Anyway, they more than made up for Peppermint Patty's behavior. And now, a few hours later, I find the whole situation hilarious.

The End. To the post, and to my writer's block.


theFinn said...

I am going to guess "Titanic". Not because I think you watch it frequently, but because they have a discussion about nude female art, in which they might quite possibly use that exact phrase.

Ashley said...

I Googled the movie, so I don't win. And I don't feel bad that I didn't know it off the top of my head because I'd never heard of it before...

Hopefully the kid didn't go home and make you the subject of his fantasies...if you were the first woman he ever saw naked, it's likely he'll never forget you.

I think it's sweet that the other guys were telling him to be quiet.