Frolickin

Back in the time of Reagan, I found myself in the senior year of my college experience. I had basically finished college going into my final year: I needed credits, but my two majors were essentially completed.

A friend of mine decided to take a pottery class at a neighboring all-girls school. That sounded like a good way to spend an evening or two a week, so I registered for it too.

The first evening of the class, the instructor sat us all around the room. He explained pottery a bit and then began to show us his work. He truly was gifted. The pots, plates, cups, etc. were just amazing. He had wonderful detail and all of us had our jaws open as we inspected all this. Then he said, This is all the shit I sell to the yuppies on the weekends to pay the bills. Let me show you my art.

Out he came with a few boxes of the most unbelievably ugly crap one has ever seen! Gone were the decorative patterns, the complementary colors, the attention for detail. In its place were half-ass renderings of . . . Pinocchio. Yes, the long-nosed wooden boy adorned each and every piece of this man’s art.

The explanation, as we would hear over and over, is that pottery is more than just the technical making of a pot, bowl, or cup. One needed to be expressive with one’s art. One needed to make that pot, bowl, or cup more than its function.

Sigh . . .

Those who know me understand my lack of artistic ability. This was supposed to be an easy class. Yet he persisted. Show me your art, he would exclaim.

Needless to say, I struggled with the task. I recall sitting in my dorm room struggling to come up with something which would be suitable. After several days and many many attempts, I came up with the best that I could do—a stick figure. Seriously, that is the best I could do. But as I would confirm many years later, it’s not so much the rendering but the context that makes something worthwhile.

This stick figure made his living by abusing poor ol’ Pinocchio.

Ah, my instructor ate this up. More, he would egg me on. My stick figure would chase Pinocchio. He would beat Pinocchio up. He would abuse poor Pinocchio. There seemed to be no limit to what this little stick figure would do.

After some time, the stick figure began branching out. It was time for a name and it was Frolicking Gilbert. Why? I haven’t a clue. The stick figure definitely frolicked about, but I didn’t meet my first Gilbert until almost 20 years later.

I ended college with an entire sketch pad full of Frolicking Gilbert drawings. His girlfriend was Gertrude.

Several years later, 1994, I found IRC. I needed a handle and I thought Frolicking Gilbert would be good. I was limited in the number of characters however. Frolicking Gilbert was then shortened to Frolickin. That moniker has stuck ever since.

Frolickin was usually shortened to Fro by my online friends. When my wife and I began caching, she adopted Gert (after hearing this story). Ever since, she has gone by this handle online. As for Frolickin, that was retired at the end of August 2004. I generally use my name Bob on sites on which I am registered.

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