Message in a Bottle

by rowboat1


I’ve been drawing people in bottles since the Clinton era. Men. Women. Mustachioed, coiffed, or otherwise.


In older sketchbooks there are sometimes figures on the outside wielding sledgehammers. Or jackhammers. Wailing away. To little avail. The figures on the inside mostly don’t seem to notice or care about what’s going on. Those that do seem to want out.



Sometimes there are figures inside of bottles inside of bottles. But usually the bottles inside of bottles are empty. The people have become bottles themselves. There are pills inside of bottles. Buddhas in bottles. Oak trees in bottles. The brownstone I live in inside a bottle. A city skyline of empty bottles.  Buddhas balancing bottles. Sad flaccid empty personified bottles. Who doesn’t love sad flaccid empty personified bottles? You can never have enough of those.


But lately there are only men with mustaches and women with big hair. And no arms. Inside bottles.


A woman whose drawings I love recently said how much she liked my people inside of bell jars. Strange. I never thought of them as bell jars. I love bell jars. What’s not to love about bell jars? But it would never occur to me in a million years to draw a sad flaccid empty personified bell jar. And people in (under?) bell jars are totally different than people inside of bottles. I understand how the former could have gotten where they are, but how did the latter get inside? I don’t know. I never have. That’s why I keep drawing them.

Are they happy inside? I suspect not. They don’t seem to be. But none of the people I draw outside of bottles look to be happy either. Being inside or outside a bottle appears to have no bearing on whether one is happy. That makes total sense. That’s how life works. As to why my people sport limber mustaches or improbable hairdos and have no arms, I haven’t a clue…beyond their being fun to draw.

When I’m drawing people inside or outside of bottles I am the only happy person around. So while being inside a bottle doesn’t appear to be a better predictor of happiness than being outside, drawing people inside bottles does. It’s been keeping my serotonin at the proper level during multiple presidencies. No prescription needed. No prior authorization required from your insurance. You can skip a day without withdrawal. The only downside is my new favorite sketchpad has been discontinued by the manufacturer. Forever. At $1.05 a pad it’s small wonder they weren’t profitable. Staring at the blank speckled-brown paper is enough to make you feel giddy. Not to mention the corrugated cardboard cover. And the twine stitching along the spine.

I bought the last 30 at the only store around that sold them. Sorry. Unforgivably shabby of me, I know. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. There are no more. None. Not one. Anywhere. IN THE WORLD! Am totally screwed when these run out. Consider yourself lucky you never got to draw in one in the first place. In that sense, I did you a huge mitzvah by hoarding them all to myself.

the last 30 of these pads…in the world!

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