How I became a Creativist, II
The Randomizer was a small wooden box. My first task was to decorate it. I strung together beads of all the colors of the rainbow and gave the box a showy tail; I covered the box with blue glitter glue; I bent several paper clips to make a wire head, filled in with two eyes of fake emerald1, and added two confetti legs. It was no longer a box but a peacock. Randomizer was such a lame name, so I named him Peapocky, and hung him around my neck.
“That is shit-tastic,” Lisa said, and then explained the initiation. Every thirty minutes the Randomizer—ahem, Peapocky—would beep, and a piece of paper would come out of his stomach. It would have a prompt such as “sing a song and dance a jig at the same time,” or “pretend to have a split personality,” or “make architecture” or “make an ad for a student club” or “say what you’re thinking out loud, in couplet form.” She told me the rules.
After I pressed START, I must follow every instruction from Peapocky until he ran out of slips (about one week).
If I did not follow every instruction, Rudii, the Creativist Initiator and a psychology major with hawk-like eyes, would be able to tell from my fleeting facial expressions (or from a network of spies—Lisa couldn’t tell which), and I would be a “frigging-fracking-fugging failure.”
If Peapocky beeped in a public location, I was not allowed to move to a private location.
I could turn Peapocky off only during class and sleep.
Peapocky first beeped when I was walking to Introductory Philosophy the next morning. I picked up the slip of paper which had dropped to the gravel path.
“Interact with an animal only you can see,” it said.
But there were students around me everywhere! I closed my eyes and thought about not listening to Peopocky. But then I imagined Rudii’s spies watching me from a secret window. I imagined Lisa, at the end of the week, saying “Sorry, sissy-ninny, you shit-tastically flunked, I’ll have to take your Pee-poo-kooky-thing back.”
But then I remembered: I’ve always wanted to have a hedgehog as a pet. I would paint his quills rainbow (so that even though he was rolled up he would be beautiful) and name him “Heggymony”.
When I opened my eyes, I imagined Heggymony had gotten lost in the throng of students stampeding to class. I looked everywhere for him, asking passerby if they had seen Heggymony. I followed a trail of quills until I found him and screamed, “Don’t step on Heggymony!” and shielded him from the tens of trotting and trampling student feet. I went down on my hands and knees and scooped him up, tickling him and cooing so that he would uncurl and show his bright little face, with his two dark pools of silently observing eyes, to the world. I stroked his quills as I sat down, like an island in the middle of a stream, and said his favorite line, “Individual elements, moving at random, pose no threat to the Heggymony.”
Only then did I redden, expecting a crowd to have formed around me, around the girl taking to air.
But, to my surprise not a single student had stopped or even seemed to notice, except for the girl who had almost tripped over Heggymony and said, “Watch it!”
Over the next week, during the Creativist Initiation, I went through three phases.
Fear: I expected the other students to point, laugh, and say, “Trevisia, have you gone nut-so?” or “What is the meaning of that song-and-jig?” or “Trevisia, may I take you to the Center for Physical and Mental Wellbeing?” I expected the gardener to rush over and tell me to vacate my bench because I was spoiling the peaceful environs. I so dreaded Peapocky’s beep, and even considered burying him at the bottom of my bookbag. I didn’t do so, only because I feared even more being rejected by the Creativists.
Peace: After two days of no one telling me I had gone nut-so, my fears evaporated like dewdrops. The beeps became a law of nature. When I heard them, I didn’t panic, but slowly picked up the fallen slip of paper. My mind, rather than acting like a flock of pigeons who had just landed on a live electrical wire, reacted like a flock of pigeons conducting an aerodynamic show.
It was at this time that I started noticing the other to-be-Creativists carrying out their initiations. A girl recited a poem praising the clouds as she acted out a tae-kwon-do-like move. A boy’s two hands acted out characters hurling insults at each other as they battled with pencils. Another boy decorated the lamps and chairs around him with paper butterflies topped with glitter that he had stashed away in a little wooden box with wings. A girl took colored chalk from a little wooden box she wore on a bracelet and decorated the sidewalks with an advertisement for the “Underwater Breathing Society.” A person of neutral sex created an impromptu maze for an ant that had the misfortune of crawling on the desk at thirty minutes past the hour.
Some of their eyes were clouded by fear, and didn’t see me. Others had reached a Zen-like state. I gave them smiles to neutralize the Uniformist hostility. We shared a secret solidarity, even though we never talked, each busy with our own Creating.
Anger: How could I not have seen the other Creativists before this week? The answer dawned: Such was the power that the Uniformists and Classicists had over Philosophocle that they had blinded me to all the uniqueness in plain view! The other students weren’t ignoring us out of spite—like pre-Creativist me, they didn’t even see us! I wanted to shout at them, holding back only because of the no talking signs in the library.
And it wasn’t true that nobody paid us any mind. During our Creatings, some people shot us laser-like looks of ambiguous meaning. They had U-shirts on. I wanted to scream made-up curse words at them, but checked myself, because although Lisa was truly a friend (not just a conversation partner as she claimed), I had no desire to be the same as her. I contented myself with scowling, experimenting with all the different ways I could contort my facial features.
I’m sure that when Rudii inspected me one week later, the fire in my eyes gave me away. She nodded in approval. I was finally a Creativist.
What is it like to become a Creativist, you ask?
It was as I was seeing in color for the first time. It was as if I had turned into a squirrel, and the trees on campus were no longer just trees, but towers with trellises, terraces, and turrets, their burls and whorls the faces of woodland gods.
One does not need precious gems to create art. All Creativist materials are cheap, because it is not the starting point, but the creating that is important.↩