It was a gorgeous spring day for my last community college visit of the semester. The atrium where the college reps tables were set up skirted a student art exposition showcasing their work for the semester - excellent, because I'd have the double bonus of increased traffic for my visit and get a more interesting focal point for my people watching. My assigned table was at the end of the atrium, directly across from the station where students of the sketch classes were doing free portraits of festival goers. It should have, by my estimation, been a very busy morning, so I wasn't even upset that my laptop battery drained itself in the first couple of hours trying to connect to the wifi. It was here things started to go astray.
Without the distractions of paperwork, my brain focused on the (increasingly loud) conversations of the students nearest me. One in particular stuck out - a first-year, dressed in expensive designer Bohemian look clothes, who was spending more time talking about how she was being persecuted and punished for, in her words, being a "full-out 100% lesbian" (or, alternately, gushing about the attractiveness of Chris Evans. Yeah.) than she was actually sketching. We'll refer to her as "Tortured Artist" for reasons which will soon become clear. When a same-sex couple sat down at her easel to have their portrait done together, I got to learn more about Tortured Artist's perceived notions of herself than I'd think appropriate in an academic setting. The "persecution" part was her own words, though her examples of this persecution were among the most laughably first-world problems I'd ever personally witnessed: Her father was punishing her by not buying her the new car she wanted, but a different one instead (her presumably straight sister got to pick her own car). Tortured Artist was being persecuted for her art by her fellow students - they just didn't understand her work (never mind that of the pieces I saw, it was truly awful). She loudly described, in vivid detail, her embarrassment the first time she took a girlfriend home to meet her parents and they didn't embrace her choice as openly and readily as she wanted (it sounded to me like they weren't disapproving of their daughter's choice, but confused about the Chris Evans thing, too). The piece de resistance, however, was how at the beginning of the conversation this girl's mother was an ally, but by the end she, too, had apparently bought her ticket on the persecution train via the inexcusable sin of purchasing Tortured Artist's organic something or other snack from Giant Eagle, a local grocery chain, rather than from Whole Foods Market.