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Friday, July 29, 2011

Breakfast at Hampton's... The Conversation!

Silence Is Golden?
 "As you read your Emily Dickerson, and I, my Robert Frost, as we note our place with book markers... that measure what we've lost!"

Okay, so I am a little over dramatic by quoting Simon and Garfunkel, but I couldn't help feeling sad for those who's life is hanging on the words that maybe never seem to come. And that's what I noticed, a couple of times, at the breakfasts I shared in hotels across northern Louisiana and Arkansas unbeknownst to the many early morning participants.

Within the hour that I sat and drew at another Hampton's this page illustrates three subjects; two of which virtually had nothing to say to their breakfast buddy across the table. The waitress, who was of Hispanic descent, actually was quite friendly and very verbal. She saw my drawing of her... which I apologized for. My excuse to her was that she was so efficient I couldn't draw fast enough. She giggled!

The older gentlemen, dressed quite nattily, sitting across from his demure partner, I nailed. And, it not only looked like him, I liked my interpretation of him in the sketch. Drawing this man was easy because he never took his eyes off the USA Today as he ate what I'd consider a very healthy diet. I just wish he would have said a few sentences to his, I assume, wife.

Maybe it is the silence that comes with many years of bliss in a marriage that needs no small talk. Years of companionship and knowing what each other would say makes for a cozy, peaceful co-existence. Maybe, it has all been said before. Maybe, they have no confrontations... no money worries, no children concerns, the mortgage is paid and all is well, no more responsibilities but to themselves to enjoy life... and this is how we do it! Maybe, but her eyes cast downward to her entree or an occasional stare at the morning news on tv seemed to tell a different story.

I should have sketched her too!

But, I did draw a cute teenager who looked to be about twelve or thirteen years old. She wore a pink sweatshirt over a sparkley sequenced white tee shirt. She had a strand of hair that very conspicuously draped across her right eye and never moved one way or another. The little girl probably had it designed that way before she came down to the cafe for breakfast. You never know who one might meet!

When she arrived, the girl was greeted by her mom, dad, who was reading the newspaper, Gramps and Grandma. It seemed a pretty stern and straight laced family unit. Mom spoke about what was being offered at the buffet and that was about the extent of her twenty minute breakfast conversation. The family lifted their heads off from their plates when the freckled faced daughter smiled and teased her father about something, maybe the shirt he was wearing. The dad lowered the news to make eye contact and then, lifted back up the "fish wrap" and chuckled behind it. The little girl didn't seem to mind and continue finishing her meal. As I sketched, I couldn't help but wonder how many more times will she accept the dutiful, almost robotic responses from her family before she leaves behind the boredom and look to another source, for fun. The Beatles, "She's Leaving Home" came painfully to mind.

"Something inside that was always denied for so many years!"

When mom mumbled a sentence or two about leaving a clean table and rose from her chair, everyone else in the family rose and disappeared. I sat right across from them on the next table and, I swear, they had no conversation between each other except what the little, giggly daughter had to say.

It made me wonder about how we raised our son and whether I, unknowingly, squashed any playfulness in him through our adult, worrisome conversations... at any meal.

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another View...The Taste Tester!

What's dis?
Bite first, taste later! Another good natured sketch from my trip to Arkansas. One of the hotels I stay at had breakfast with these wonderful little self-contained omelets filled with cheese, bell pepper, onions and tomato. I had one and then decided to have another, but this guy obviously thought it was something other than an omelet his wife had set before him from the buffet table.

 I don't recall whether or not he finished it, ha!

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Breakfast at Hamptons...Can't Tell A Book From Its Cover!

We All Have Our Prejudices...
I don't want to belabor the point. I do have my own thoughts about fat people. Not overweight, not chubby, not dietetically challenged or husky ( as I was called as a kid! ), but people who, for one reason or another, just can't mix in a salad or two! FAT!

I drew this woman at the Hampton Inn at Arkadelphia, AK at breakfast time and I think I captured her "displacement" and misery pretty well. She didn't look very happy... even while eating breakfast!

"My gosh, I thought to myself, "How can any skeletal support system handle that mass for such a long time?" How does one allow themselves to get that way? She looks as though breathing is even difficult!"

'How horrible is life that you have to eat your sorrows away?"

Twenty minutes into her breakfast, she struggled to get up off the chair and amble back towards the buffet table. Once she did, I turned my sketchbook to a young woman who had just sat down with a cup of coffee and then, somehow lost sight of my original subject. She was gone and it was just as well.

About an hour later, while still sipping coffee and conversing with the staff, I noticed the "whale" checking out of the hotel with the family. The husband was also rather large, but not quite her size and the two little boys were, let's just say, pudgy! Distracted from my conversation with the waitress about drinking coffee in a heat wave ( it was 105 degrees the day before! ), I noticed the boys were acting physically, little strange. On a closer look, as the family walked out of the lobby into the heat of the day, I noticed that this woman was the mother of, not one, but two boys with Down's syndrome. A handful, for sure! I felt horrible and that old adage about the book and its cover rang embarrassingly true.

Every now and then, life kinda slaps you around a bit to remind you what a REAL SNOT you can be and to, not so gently, make you understand that everyone, in their own way, is just trying to make it through the day...with or without that extra donut!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breakfast at Hampton's...Number One.

People watching and people sketching!
While away on a "sort of vacation", I'd get up, workout and then, people watch 'n draw in between "bias TV" and reading the "multicolored fish wrap" called the USA Today. There was quite a coming and going and I was amazed to see how people view their first meal of the day. Work crews on an overnight stay had breakfast in less than ten minutes and were gone. Families on vacation lingered, but some, bleary-eyed and mentally still in their pajamas, had virtually nothing to say to each other in the half hour breakfast they shared. For the most part, everyone was very friendly, including the chubby, older gentleman I drew in this picture. He was from Houston, TX and was working his way back home. He offered me a seat, but I declined looking for a better place to sit and watch... and sketch.

But the man was just ebullient as could be for seven in the morning. I stood there conversing with him, my sketchbook and breakfast tray in hand, for over ten minutes. Twenty minutes later, long after I had found a "gunslinger's" position, he offered a lady, who found no tables available, a seat, which she accepted.

A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mister, Can You Help Me Turn This On?

A sketch I drew waiting my turn to get back on line.
There were only two computers at this hotel and I had hogged one for about one hour until a guy complained to his cohort over the cell phone that "this dude's been on line for a while and should be finishing soon." After hearing him complain for the second time, I got up, apologized and let him on the computer. While waiting for him to complete his email transaction, I sketched this little girl wrapped in a large, Lifesaver colored bath towel with another smaller white towel wrapped around her wet head.

Earlier, she asked her mother to help her turn on the computer, but mom said she didn't know how and assumed the little nine year old knew how. Mom told her daughter to check with the front desk if she couldn't get it turned on because she'd be upstairs packing to leave. The minute mom was out of sight, the little girl asked me...

"Mister, do you know how to turn this thing on?"

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, July 11, 2011

More from the LaCombe Mini-Mart...

"Buyin' Bud"
There's a reason this place was doing so well. They were right across the highway from the hospital and there was literally no where else to go with only an hour to blow. Sippin' on a bad cup of coffee and staring into the mini-mart, mindlessly sketching counters, end caps, plastic benches, I noticed a rather large proportion of large clientele. Upon further review, I noticed that they seemed to be stocking up on Bud... almost exclusively. A twelve pack of sixteen ounce Bud rolling out the door... what for?

Maybe... a fourth of July repeat?

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grab me a Twelve Pack... Maybe Two!

It's not like everyone buying beer was overweight... well, actually it was. There were truckers, people in scrubs, medical staff, construction workers, cops, a UPS driver and a host of other folks zipping in and zipping out with one thing or another, but the proportion of obese to the many people that passed by in the hour I was there, was truly amazing. And apparently, many of them really enjoy their beer.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

EEEE-YOUUUU-WEEEEEEE...Dead Critter Bones!

Small chameleon and frog skeletons.
A month or so, I found these skeletal remains lodged up in one of the many windows I clean. These are really tiny creatures small enough to squeeze into the draining holes of the screen and the window. Like many animals seeking food, when and if they find the prey, they find that they cannot get out the same way that they came in. I don't understand why not, but this is a regular occurrence in early spring. I find many times either dead or emaciated chameleons that get tangled up in spider webs and can't free themselves. I find most of those in our garage window sills.

When I originally found these two, they still had their skin attached, but by the time I found the time, and inspiration, to draw them, they had deteriorated even more. I had to use a printer's loop to really see what I was drawing and some pieces actually fell off as I attempted to get a better look.

They are really just little dinosaurs!

Copyright/Ben Bensen III/ 2011 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not Just Soccer with Horses...

Play by Play and Scorekeeper Stand...
With the game so far away, for the safety of the horses, the riders and the viewers, an announcer keeps the audience attentive and involved. He also explains the game to those novices, who think polo is just soccer with horses. Locally, there are teams that traditionally compete against one another, but I don't know how many teams or how many players are involved. The really experienced players are professional and, I am sure, are paid for their services. Many of those professionals are from Argentina or Colombia. Mostly, these games are fund raisers for local charities providing upscale entertainment, cuisine and all kinds of beautiful race and show horses. It has a pageantry atmosphere about it.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011