When I was in school, I belonged to an enrichment program that allowed me to participate in educational opportunities beyond the normal classroom. Among other things, I got to participate in a weekly elementary news broadcast (including anchoring it a couple of times), visit the Corning Glass Museum and a Wild West museum, and learn how to do computer animation.
My favorite year of participation, however, was when I was a senior. I wanted to do something that I would enjoy for my senior project, but I went to the group's advisor feeling a little melancholy. I didn't know what I wanted to do.
She gave me a catalog (I don't know what it was called) filled with anything and everything that anyone could possibly need to make any sort of project. It was a little overwhelming. Still, I sat and flipped through the pages, looking for something that would interest me.
Then, I saw it. I had watched the show on PBS while babysitting my cousins in the summer. I had been enamored with the idea of trying the same techniques.
The Bob Ross Oil Painting Starter Kit.
You might know who he is. Aging hippy with a gentle voice and puffy, curly hair. He always painted "happy trees". I loved watching him work, and suddenly, I had my chance to try to oil paint like him!
Then, I saw the price of the kit. $128. I didn't have that kind of money. My parents didn't have that kind of money, not to put toward a box of paint and brushes anyway. $128 would feed us for a month.
At that moment, the advisor came over and asked if I'd found anything. I told her I had but that it was $128, expecting her to understand that I couldn't afford it and to hopefully offer a cheaper alternative. She looked at the item and the cost and said, "Okay! We'll buy it for you!" I wasn't sure that I'd heard her correctly.
"That's fine," she said. "We'll order it out of the budget." She smiled brightly at me before looking back at the page. "Wouldn't you rather have the full kit, though?" She pointed to the larger kit that cost nearly $200.
"Well, it would be...um...the other one's fine," I stammered.
"Eh, we'll just order the big one." She circled it in pen and walked back to her desk to phone in the order.
To this day, I'm quite sure there was no budget for the Enrichment program. I'm quite sure that I had a fairy godmother who wanted to give me a chance to fulfill a dream.
I still have the kit. These sixteen years later, it's still in my basement. I'm afraid to open it; I'm sure the tubes are full of more oil than paint. Probably, I should just throw it away...
Maybe next year...