While drawing the cartoon that appeared on the website yesterday I had a flashback. A nostalgic one, not the usual ones. Not the ones that result in me having to apologize to neighbors and appear in court weeks later.
This was a flashback to high school. A simpler time. A simpler Manion. While I was wrestling with all of the uncertainties of the world around me there was one quote that stood like a lighthouse in the distance; “God does not play dice with the universe.” If you know anything about Albert Einstein you know he was not religious and the ‘God’ in that quote was a metaphor. What he was reacting to was the uncertainty inherent in quantum mechanics.
Quantum mechanics… the world around me at the time… uncertainty seemed to be everywhere, seen and unseen.
So I did what any uncertain geek would do, I started to draw a comic strip based exclusively on dice. Every single panel cartoon would feature two dice sitting in the center of the page and then I would add some witty or odd observation made by one or both dice.
For example there was one I remember where one of the dice had no dots, they were scattered around it. The other die said “Gesundheit.” Another had a die with seven dots and the other saying “Showoff.” There were patriotic die with stars instead of dots or dots that were dripping in the heat, but there were always two dice sitting there being uncertain.
It was how I was coping. Capturing snippets what I saw of life’s rich pageant and the various people populating my world. Trying to understand the motivations and aspirations of the growing cast of characters that surrounded me. The good, the bad and the inexplicable.
Eventually the binder I kept these cartoons in grew to over eighty pages and one day I showed it to the school librarian. I would often spend my lunch hour there instead of the cafeteria due to my overwhelming popularity. I was flattered when she gave the collection a look and told me that they were really good. She told me I should do something with them. Get them published or consider a career as a cartoonist.
For a few moments I was truly inspired. I went right home and thought up a few more and couldn’t wait to show them to her the next day.
She loved them. She seemed genuinely impressed. Downright animated. She asked if she could borrow the binder so she could spend some quality time looking at them all. Being the geek I was I readily agreed.
That was her last day at the school. I never saw her or my binder again.
I like to think that she saw how brilliant these drawings were and decided to try to cash in on all of my hard work. Submit them somewhere and then lead a life of glamor and wealth because of their popularity. Rolling the dice on a new life far away from the library. A fresh start.
Apparently her devious plan failed because I never saw any of them published anywhere.
I sometimes wonder what happened to her and, more importantly, what happened to my binder. It would be wonderful if it turns out she died somewhere a penniless crack whore and that somehow, one day, the binder finds its way back to me, but I have my doubts.
Why I want her to die toothless is uncertain, as is what I would make of all those cartoons so many years later. I understand now why Albert didn’t like the idea that we can only describe things in terms of probabilities.
So now all these years later I write instead of draw, but the truth is I’m still just the same unpopular guy just trying to figure things out.
Wouldn’t it be great if that old librarian ends up reading this?