The Regrettable Third Grade Boobie Extravaganza


When your dad's a biologist, your childhood might just be a bit... different... than everyone else's.

Oh, you won't necessarily notice it in-between A-Team episodes and Crayola 64-packs.

But as an adult, you might just look back on your first years on this planet-- cringe-- and wonder how you went so far astray.

Such was the Third Grade Boobie Extravaganza.

Yup, where most parents were happy enough if little Rodney just colored in the lines, and didn't pick his nose in the school play, my dad had other priorities.

Things which, as a biologist, he found oh-so-adorable coming from a little person. But which pretty much put a giant red target on my big bespectacled noggin.

I was, for instance, the only 7-year-old who had to call horseshoe crabs at the beach by their Latin name.

And let me tell you, when your Limulus polyphemus innocently slips out in class, it does not make you the girl everyone wants to sit next to at lunch.

Now, I mention all this, because it was this line of thinking that transformed one carefree artistic moment into what we shall call my "Boobie Enlightenment Period. " I recall vividly how it began.

I was sitting on the floor of my grandpa's house in Florida on summer vacation, drawing mermaids. Red-haired mermaids, blond mermaids, brunettes... Mermaids with blue tails, purple tails...

No Crayola left behind.

And my father, watching this for some time, determined that the real problem with my drawing style was not my derivative over-use of a Warhol-esque repetitive theme...

Nope. It was that my mermaid collection violated the laws of proper anatomy. If I were ever going to be an artist of any caliber-- y'know, and not be washed up by age eight-- I really needed to pay more attention to detail, the Pop explained.

And thus, the first pair o' boobs entered into the picture.

Or actually, all of the pictures. Yup, from here on out, it was a veritable Boobie Renaissance in my artistic endeavors. From Nancy Drew to Wonder Woman and everyone in-between... if it was a female character and I drew it, you could guarantee, she had a pair.

And while this appeased the Pop regarding my maturing artistic sensibilities, I discovered once I hit third grade-- as in many an art movement-- it didn't quite translate to the masses like I'd hoped.

Unlike second grade, the third grade classroom, inside and out, had a number of bulletin boards we kids were allowed to decorate and maintain. And so for every season, we crafted a scene using our own hand-made cut outs.

You can probably tell where this is going.

Oh, my friend Josette did a snowman and kids throwing snowballs. Lance Helgerberger drew a couple of boys on a sled. And me, I drew a pirouetting ice skater...

With sweater-clad knockers Lana Turner would have been proud of.

My teacher, Miss Andros, a sweet prim maiden lady, blinked befuddled at the image and struggled noticeably about just how to tactfully address this booby-trapped situation. So she pointed. "Jenni, now you see these here... um..."

But then I explained to her, yes, I was aware of them. And how being anatomically accurate was important if you were ever to really learn to draw properly.

Mumbling and patting my shoulder, she found her argument suddenly flaked away like Elmer's paste.

And so third grade became the year I introduced my classmates to the joys of fine art. I can just imagine now, at Parent-Teacher Conferences, Miss Andros pointing out the bulletin boards and asking my mother if she could pick my contributions out of a crowd.

Oh yes, Miss Andros. She could...

She most certainly could.

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41 comments:

Chris said...

Great telling of that story. "No Crayola left behind." Beautiful.

I would think your artistic trademark would've made you some boy friends, though?

Skye said...

Hahaha, that is perfect! :D

I wish all parents made their kids (those interested in drawing and such at any rate) learn to draw anatomically correct. I loved to draw as a kid, but I never could quite grasp the fundamentals because my parents DID NOT like me to do things correctly, it was sick and created pornographic images as far as they were concerned. So imagine my utter horror when I started to grow breasts. I was terrified that I would be thought of in that same manner. Granted, I've was small busted not to mention a late bloomer, but it worried me non-the-less. It didn't matter that I had an older sister endowed along the lines of Dolly Parton, she just proved my point as she was very much the "slut" in my parents eyes.

My point is, that if parents taught their kids about anatomy and didn't get all uptight about it, there would be a lot less sexual problems. It would just be a fact of life as opposed to "Oh wow, look at the knockers on that girl!"

Jenn Thorson said...

CHRIS- Heh, thanks-- it was fun to write.

I like your glass-half-full thinking about it, too. It might briefly have earned me the admiration of a boy I liked named Patrick, now you mention it...

But with the glasses, braces and other barriers to beauty I had going on at the time, I imagine my Boobie Enlightenment Period was probably not enough to tip the scales in my favor.


SKYE- Ah, yes-- our families can unknowingly traumatize us in all sorts of ways, can't they? :)

Shawn said...

Well, at least you weren't drawing naked male elves. Could have been even trickier.

I would have totally sat by you at lunch and listened to you pontificate about whether or not the seahorse was categorized in the right phylum.

Jenn Thorson said...

Shawn- Amusingly, I somehow think Dad wouldn't have been such a stickler for accuracy if I'd gone down the Naked Male Elf route. :)

And thanks-- I probably would have even shared my coveted Fritos over a thing like that.

Jaffer said...

I grew up in a very conservative society. When I was in second grade, I remember I was writing an Arabic exam and on one page was a figure of a man and we had to label parts of his body.

I thought there was something missing, and I decided to cover him up - so I gave him briefs with red polka dots - just like the cartoons ;-)

But it didn't go well with the teacher because he looked more obscene than before getting those briefs.
But oh did my class fellows have a good laugh.

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- Heh-- I love your artistic liberties there. :) And the polka dots sound like an especially nice touch.

Mike said...

I'm just wondering if it wasn't dad the biologist, but dad the pervert.

You see, mermaids don't actually exist.

Otherwise as a biologist, would he not be just as anal about the size and shape of the tail section?

Just saying.

Jenn Thorson said...

Mike- Ah, Mike... Mike Mike...

If the Pop heard that one, you would have been entreated to SUCH a dissertation on the varying cultural interpretations of mermaids in folklore and their relation to the harpies in Greek myth and....

Two hours later we'd get around to how the tailfins in some are depicted as lateral and... :)

Chaotically Calm said...

LMAO...this reminds me of taking an art class in college. Now we were all adults (by age) but no matter what even with the art professor breathing down our backs did anyone dare draw the dingleberries. Not sure why others didn't but it kinda made me feel uncomfortable like I was starring at the model's junk too long trying to get the right shape and shading appropriate etc etc etc. Maybe had I had a biologist as a father instead of a marine I might have gotten an A in art. Bad luck I guess!

Jenn Thorson said...

Faith- Ha, yes, I can totally understand. We had a female model in art class, and even as such it was really weird for us all when she first was introduced.

Maybe "vagueness" in areas can be a legitimate artistic style. :)

chyna said...

Now if you'd grown up in the age of Disney's Little Mermaid the whole naked boobies thing would have been moot. But then your dad probably would have given you a lecture on the proper shells to cover said body parts. ;)

Hey does your dad call Star Fish sea stars or star fish? On our recent trip to CA we were informed that us landlocked people don't call these things the right name.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- You're right about the Little Mermaid precedence. If she'd been around at the time, she and her strategic shells would have solved much of my problems!!

As far as I know, I've only heard him use "starfish" for the five pointed stars. There are other types with more arms that are called by some other name (which eludes me at the moment).

Da Old Man said...

I went to Catholic school. I bet if anyone drew boobs on the women saints, they would have been threatened with excommunication, eternal damnation, or worse.

If they drew boobs on anyone a good beating with a ruler by a crazy nun would have been the order of the day, I'm sure.

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- Well, sure-- I mean, those sisters make up a tough crowd. You don't go around hanging boobs on the saints.

Mine was a Jersey public school. My goals were simple-- to avoid the cafeteria's pot luck... duck the bullies... and try not to knock myself unconscious in gym class.

I didn't have the added complication of angry nuns with rulers.

Creative Junkie said...

I love how you tell a story, Jenn!

I'm not even going to ask whether or not you ever drew boys. I don't think I want to know.

Jenn Thorson said...

Creative Junkie- Well, I used to LOVE to draw Bo and Luke Duke-- I had a horrible crush on John Schnieder for the longest time-- but they were all wearing their standard Dukes gear.

And thus, not so much subject to the rules of anatomy. :)

Oh, I used to also try to draw my one Ken doll, but again... it's Ken.

Margo said...

Jenn, I was spending two hours in a doctor's office waiting room, while I read this. I didn't think anything could make me laugh - but you surprised me. There's something about that 3rd grade age that's so special, as far as waking up to the grown up world. You've done a marvelous job of capturing that magic :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Margo- Well, hey, ANYTHING that makes a doctor's visit more bearable is a fab thing-- I'm glad to inadvertently have helped! Thank you.

Susan @ Reading Upside Down said...

Great story Jenn. My daughter is a wonderful artist and in year 2, but since she is part of a post-Little Mermaid generation, hopefully I won't have to have a mermaid anatomy discussion with her. Thank you, Disney!

On the subject of year 3 anatomy - my son (in Yr 3 last year) came home with a parts of the body word scramble for homework. You know EDHA = head, RAM = arm.

He asked for my help with one he couldn't get - PNEIS. It took me ages to work out that not only does it spell 'penis', it also spells 'spine' (which, by the way, is the word they were looking for).

ReformingGeek said...

Very funny, Jenn.

I never could get the boobs right on the stick people I drew. ;-)

The Mother said...

As a biologist myself, I completely agree with your father.

And my kids get in trouble for their, um, unorthodox knowledge regularly.

Like when my son decided to write his persuasive paper on the merits of legalizing prostitution. An argument he heard from his medical parents at the dinner table.

I really don't know why they haven't called CPS.

Jenn Thorson said...

Susan- Ah, being post Little Mermaid, you should be in the clear. The "spine" question your son had... I bet there were a LOT of parents questioning the appropriateness of that one for a moment or two! "Surely it CAN'T say what I think it says..."

Reforming Geek- Heh, well, that may have been more a problem of weight distribution and physics. :)

The Mother- Ahhhh... see, I knew I couldn't have been the only one. Somehow I suddenly feel... vindicated. :)

carsonb said...

"over-use of a Warhol-esque repetitive theme"

It's not even 9:00am and I've already had to clean Diet Pepsi off of my monitor.

This is the funniest thing I've read all week.

Jenn Thorson said...

Carson- Ah, now, see, if I've made you shower Diet Pepsi, then... gosh, my work is pretty much done here!

(Seriously, though, get a wet towel quick... that Pepsi can really gum things up when it dries. Safety first!) :)

freetheunicorns said...

I wish I could have drawn boobs like that when I was in third grade. Although, if a boy continued drawing woman with big knockers it may have become an issue.

This killer story has inspired me to encourage my kid to draw proportionally correct anatomy when they're able to hold a crayon.

Jenn Thorson said...

FreetheUnicorns- I'm chuckling that your interest lies in the artistic quality of the knockers. :) And yes, I imagine if a boy had done it, it would have caused a somewhat different public sensation.

moooooog35 said...

How did you know I picked my nose in the school play?

Jenn Thorson said...

Mooog- Well, of course, I didn't want to name NAMES, but now that you press the issue, there ARE some of your childhood photos circulating...

You know, when you were just a little hand.

bob said...

you actually used the latin name for horseshoe crabs? wow! seven years old? fantastic!

i'm getting jimmy legs just thinking about it. i would have been honored to sit next to you.

Jenn Thorson said...

Ah, Bob- thank ya kindly. :)

Hindleyite said...

A wonderful little story that. Reminded me of my college art teacher telling me off for drawing the life model's boobs too large all the time.

Nothing weird about that, you might say, but our model was male.

Jenn Thorson said...

Hindleyite- Did the model get to see your work, and was he flattered by the creative license? :)

Funny Videos said...

Great Work. Very nice

Drowsey Monkey said...

I missed that period of life. I never drew a boobie as a kid - even when the boys drew them and got in trouble I didn't even know what they got in trouble for. Didn't makes sense, it was just a W with dots on the bottom. Weird.

The Queen said...

This is way cute. now me and my boobies..must move on. before we blush..

Jenn Thorson said...

Drowsey- I really don't recall the boys drawing them, though maybe I wasn't tapped into what they were doing aside from things like trying to break up our double-dutch games, and putting gum in our hair.

The Queen- I thank you and your boobies for stopping by! :)

Greg said...

So funny. You do have a writing gift, to be sure.

Interesting that the Pop didn't insist on you also drawing some accurately-depicted manatees, since they are often suggested to be the creature that inspired the mermaid mythology.

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- It's striking that important balance between micromanaging yet not fully quashing the creativity. :)

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

I hadn't read this one before, Jenn. It's one of your very best. I love the subtle ending. Sweet.

Jenn Thorson said...

Mike- Hey, thank you. It's always fun when folks discover stuff new to them in the archives!