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Today’s image has an interesting and wonderful story behind it. A story so powerful that it lasted over 10 years before it was immortalized via illustration by my extremely talented friend Taj. But before we look at the final piece, let’s get some background.

Back when I was 18 or 19 and just getting started on what would be an interesting college experience to say the least, my best friend Brandon and I took a few classes together. Among these was a gem called “Applied Psychology.” I will never forget it.

There is something you need to know about me and how I learn. More often than not when I’m in a classroom setting I am doing something like drawing or playing a game on my phone (which is sadly not a luxury I had then unless you count “snake”). The thing is that it is one of the ways I absorb information the best, despite what the rest of our story might suggest. I just can’t listen to lectures without allowing my mind to focus on more than one thing.


Back to the story. We had what I remember to be a pretty great time in the classes we had together. However, Brandon and I have very different ways of doing things when it comes to learning. I never study and I am allergic to homework. Yes…I am a model student. Of course this means that in Applied Psych I doodled and spaced out as usual. Except for on the days where the class was discussing stuff, then I was completely involved. That’s how the semester went: draw, talk, draw, talk. True to form, when the time came for our final exam Brandon buckled down and studied non-stop. I, on the other hand, played lots and lots of Counter-Strike despite his suggestion that I maybe crack open the course book at least once in the semester. I played Counter-Strike.

The morning rolled around and we sat down next to each other in class, one of us fully prepared to take this really important test. It was a big one. Now believe it or not, I did actually know most of what was on this exam and I blew through quite a bit of it with ease. However, as it happens there were more than a few that I couldn’t remember so I kept my composure, moved on, and saved them for the end to give myself time to recall…anything. With most of the questions requiring more than a multiple choice answer I had to make sure I had enough time to knock it all out.

Test-taking 101, right?

Well in the follow-up course, Test-taking 102, I like to preach a little technique I call “If you don’t know what you’re talking about…be convincing, and if you can’t be convincing…be hilarious.”

When I finally got back to the questions I hadn’t known before, I spent a solid 5 minutes sincerely trying to recall anything from that day in class. I came up totally blank. The first of these asked me to name the seven stages of grief. I knew about half of them, I think. To be honest, to this day I’m still not sure because now the answers I made up back then seem to have stuck. It went something like: Denial, Anger, Wheelin’ and Dealin’, Sadness, Jell-o pudding, Sleep, and “Ok Fine.”

I made a few more jokes here and there as I tried my best to make anything sound convincingly correct. Then turned my test in and we left. Brandon worked like crazy to prepare so he pretty much knew that he had it in the bag. I on the other hand figured that I did well enough to maybe squeeze out an A. The next day when we’re reviewing the tests as a class I’m pretty surprised to see that I actually did incredibly well. We’re going question by question and I’m floored that even on my b.s. answers I’m nailing them.

Now I need you to keep in mind during that the entire taking of this test Brandon (my best friend, my brother) was writing feverishly, I mean to the point of sweating. You could hardly see the white of the paper his essays are written on through the ink of his brilliant prose. As we go through each question I’m laughing here and there at the ridiculousness of some of my answers and sharing a few of the wittier ones with him. So when we get to the question “Describe the Characteristics of the It Monster” Brandon hears me absolutely cracking up, looks at my test, and let’s out the loudest string of profanities I’ve ever heard to this day.

This is a glorious recreation of what he saw:


And next to it…5 bonus points. On a five point question Brandon scored a 3, and I got 10. I cannot stop laughing, and that only fuels his theatrics.

When he finally calms back down and we finish reviewing the test he looks at his overall score and turns to me.

“I got a B. What did you get jackass?”

I had a 105%. The profanities started again. This is one of my greatest achievements in life.

Bringing us back to present day. All I have to do if I ever want a 15 minute rant out of him is mention the “It monster.” So when I met our mutual friend Taj I found out he was an illustrator…and a damned good one at that. I told him about this story and the idea that I had for a piece I wanted to commission him to create. The It Monster was running rampant in a major city, an nobody could stop the horror.

This is what he made me:


How absolutely amazing is that? I finally got to give it to Brandon (framed at it’s full 20″x30″) a couple of days ago and got to witness firsthand what I can only imagine are the ACTUAL seven stages of grief.

For the record…I still have no idea what the “It Monster” actually is.

See you tomorrow,