I opened a contest on my blog on May 29th, and the winner was supposed to be announced at the end of June. If you use the same calendar I do, you have probably already figured out that June is in the rear-view mirror, and has been for over a month now.

Suffice it to say, life got away from me in July. We visited my sister and brother-in-law and our new nephew Hudson in Arizona, where it was hot enough to make the sun cry (118 degrees Fahrenheit). I began writing pieces for other blogs to drive up my SEO ranking. (Of course, this is the stuff Jesus cares about – “Well done, good and faithful servant! Your SEO ranking was amazing on the Earthly Interweb!”) The wife and I completely renovated our guest bathroom. We made Baby Evie’s room spring to life with vinyl decals and hand-me-down clothes and crib blankets. We began a Vacation Bible School session at our church wherein our multipurpose room was transformed into a cross-section of first century Nazareth, and I played (and am still playing) a rabbi, of all things. I worked on Book #2. I drew. A lot. I recorded a few cover songs. I made new friends. I ran 247 errands for my very pregnant wife. I began developing press materials and collecting songs for a free compilation album from a variety of artists, all to promote Danny J. Gibson’s forthcoming September exhibit in Kansas City. The list goes on.

In summary: I am indeed a horrible host, as I forgot about this contest until the very person who won the contest contacted me (not knowing that he had, in fact, won) to say, “Uh, what happened to the contest?”

Our contest winner for the “Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words” contest, which none of you (including me) remember, is none other than Lawrence, KS’s Richard Noggle, who runs a delightful blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

Because he was the only one who asked me about the contest, I decided to create a brand new design for him based on his love of a) Lawrence (i.e. “Larryville,” as it is known around here), b) hipster life, and c) Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. The resulting logo is below. As a prize, instead of giving away a T-Shirt, I awarded him a beer stein featuring his logo courtesy of CafePress.com.

In case you’ve forgotten the picture this contest revolved around (and you have), scroll down below the logo for the photo and the story behind it. Believe me. It’s worth reading.

 

The picture below was taken in July of 1999. I was an intern at The Vandiver Group, a public relations and marketing firm based in the township of Frontenac in St. Louis, MO. Usually, interns just fetch coffee for the higher-ups and run around, clutching documents and looking clueless. I certainly excelled at these things.

But I also had to fulfill a much more important duty: I had to wear the infernal foam rubber Mr. Recycled Paint costume below in the dead of summer. The heat index was 104 degrees, and I had to walk in a parade on behalf of one of the Vandiver Group’s clients. My “friend” Traci, who was an Account Manager at The Vandiver Group at the time, and who I knew prior to my time there, was responsible for driving me to the event and accompanying me as I suffered in the hellish heat.

I was given no media training prior to the event because Mr. Recycled Paint had a mouth, but no hole for a person to speak through. It was quite awkward, then, when a TV crew pulled me aside and began to ask me questions. 

“So, uh, recycled paint, huh? How do you recycle paint?”

(Muffled) “Um, with, uh, recycling.”

“Yes, but how do you recycle paint?”

(Still muffled) “Carefully, with the help of a paint, um, recycler.”

“I see. But what does that process look like?”

“Paint. Recycle. Good.”

My boss was none too thrilled about this incident, but she also did not give me any training when it came to answering questions like this, so I didn’t really feel too bad about it. In fact, I was more than a little amused.

Until children began to walk up behind me and slam my paint-can handle against the body of my suit, and with no small amount of force. 

“Look, Mom! That is a giant paint can, and it has a handle! I must pick up the handle and slam it as hard as I can against that suit because, in real life, paint-can handles are made to be slammed against paint cans. They are clearly not useful for any other purpose, Mom.”

“You’re right, little Billy. Go ahead and torture the poor man.”

The parade route crossed Chain of Rocks Bridge, and I was tempted to chain some rocks to those children and throw them from the bridge and into the muddy Mississippi below. Mama always said a watery grave was a good grave.

Later that day, after I had sweated enough to fill my costume and nearly drown while standing and waving at children, we went to the St. Louis Science Center, which was air-conditioned. The only problem was, the interior of the piping-hot foam-rubber suit was still piping hot. Also, whoever designed the suit decided the eye-holes should be covered with plastic lenses, and my labored, heated breathing reacted with the air-conditioning outside of my suit by causing these lenses to fog.

So I shook hands with children I could not see.  

“So nice to meet you, little girl!”

This is when my coworker Traci, who practically sold me into public relations slavery that day, stepped in and said things like, “That’s not a little girl, Chad. That’s a little boy. What’s wrong with you?”

I bumped into walls, tripped over thresholds in the carpet, nearly knocked over children, and reacted with considerable fright when more children insisted on slamming my paint-can handle into my suit – again, with much force.

It was one of the worst days of my life.