Usually, I jump on any brightly painted bandwagon that happens to roll by. But grown-up coloring books…?
Apparently, I was woefully out of the loop when it came to the latest stress-busting leisure activities. Luckily, I had someone to update me. Especially since I yearned for a constructive diversion from the 2016 presidential candidates' incessant nonsense.
Understand: I'm no stranger to crayons. Many's the time (recently, anyway) that I've grabbed my 64-count box of Crayolas intending to scrawl a pithy (if possibly inflammatory) expression of political outrage on the side of a public building. Fortunately, Doug always wrestles the purple crayon from my angrily trembling hands before I do anything rash.
But it wasn't until my sister, Linda, enlightened me, that I ever thought to put my Crayolas to use coloring a picture of an elephant riding a tricycle.
We were lunching in a casual dining restaurant where the background noise — conversations; dishes, glasses, and flatware clinking; babies crying; trays clattering to the floor; people on their phones; TVs blaring with people cheering (or booing) — is roughly equivalent to the decibel level of a 747 during take-off.
Linda ordered her usual bacon-cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato, "hold the cheese, hold the lettuce, hold the tomato." I got the blue cheese, sautéed mushroom, onion straw topped burger with lettuce and tomato WITH the blue cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onion straws, lettuce and tomato. (I tipped our server extra to make up for my sister's…peculiarities.)
Whilst Linda, unperturbed by the racket enveloping us, studiously scraped away the minuscule dab of mayo someone had misguidedly applied to her burger bun, we brainstormed creative ideas for handling stress. Which was great, because watching my picky-eater sister was stressing me out.
Admittedly, I needed an outlet for my stress other than choking someone who (in my opinion) rightfully deserved it; or having my head explode, splattering the walls. At this point, Linda was painstakingly picking the sesame seeds from her hamburger roll.
"I color," she said.
"You color...what?" I asked.
"Coloring books for grown-ups," she replied; then explained that mere crayons never besmirch these collections of elaborate, intricate designs. One uses colored pencils — the pricier, the better.
"It's relaxing," she claimed while she gingerly removed a slightly burnt French fry from her plate, wrapped it in a napkin, and pushed it as far away as possible without nudging my lunch into my lap.
"It takes my mind off whatever's making me want to go to bed, pull the covers over my head, and stay there indefinitely," she added. "You should try it."
Days later, after an especially exasperating afternoon, I decided to take Linda's advice. From Amazon, I ordered: four big people coloring books with insanely complicated designs; a 72-piece set of artist-quality colored pencils priced somewhere between economical and "yikes!" (Probably closer to the "yikes!" end of the scale.); and a special pencil sharpener because a regular one simply wouldn't do. (If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right.)
All that, plus the bamboo lap desk with built-in light and a drawer for the pencil-sharpener, cost me $113.49. The plan was to unwind in bed with my new hobby before falling sleep.
The first night, I colored outside the lines six times in five minutes. The seventh time, I snapped. "&#?@*$;%!" I howled. "This is NOT #%*;$@?#& RELAXING!"
Doug reached over and took away my coloring books and pencils.
"Why don't you try some herbal tea?" he proposed, "So I can get some sleep."