Not quite a year ago, the canvas pictured above was leaning in the door jamb of my office when I arrived at work. There was no name on it and no card attached, but it as definitely placed so that I would see it. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. I asked our departmental administrative assistant if she had seen anyone around or had any idea who left it. She hadn’t seen anyone and didn’t have any ideas. Normally I would have just shrugged and gone about my day, but the message was a bit creepy. It sounded kind of stalkerish. And…because I teach at a university, I was a bit freaked out that the “love” that didn’t “follow the rules” was some student’s weird Mrs. Robinson/The Graduate kind of scenario. The admin asst suggested I call the custodian to see if she knew anything about it, but I had to teach, then got busy. I thought about it off and on for a few days and still felt a little skeeved out, but not too worried.
Fast forward a few days later…one of my female graduate students said, “Hey, did you get the painting that I left by your door?” What!? She gave it to me? Now I was simultaneously relieved and confused. Sensing my bemusement, she went on to explain that she likes being crafty and she buys canvases at thrift shops and repaints them with quotes. She thought I’d get a kick out of it, since that quote was something I said in class.
A couple of class periods earlier, in my school-age language disorders course, we were discussing the complexity of spelljng and how, although there are many conventional spelling patterns, pronunciation may not align with those patterns. Off the cuff, I mentioned the word “love.” I went on to explain that typically when words have a vowel-consonant-silent “e” pattern, then the vowel is long. That’s the basic, English spelling/pronunciation pattern. However, I mentioned that love doesn’t follow the (spelling) rule because we should pronounce it like “cove” instead of “luv.” Amused with myself for my random example that love doesn’t follow the rules, I commented that although this wasn’t a philosophy course, we could continue to ponder not only the spelling, but the deeper meaning that “love doesn’t follow rules.” We had a good laugh and moved on.
And now the uncreepified painting hangs proudly in my office as a great classroom memory. It just probably disturbs people who come and visit now.