“It wasn’t always like this,” explains Mallory McDonald, a no-longer-recent college graduate without honors. Sitting in the Pretty Piggy Art Studio, she absentmindedly twirls a Hobby Lobby label paintbrush. “Back in the day, when I first graduated and moved back here with my parents to repay my student loan debt for the next fifty-eight years, I had so many plans. I averaged like three and a half self-help books a week, listened to a bunch of podcasts on how to hustle, even made a vision board or two. But let’s be real. I live in Bumblefuck. Not Philly, not Pittsburgh. Not even Allentown. Bumblefuck. There isn’t exactly a strong entrepreneurial scene here.” A friend of a friend introduced McDonald to Sip’N’Paint, and “from there, it just totally altered my life course. It’s really true what they say, it’s those weak ties that often open you up to opportunity.”
The class itself is a healthy mix of relaxed post-menopausal women and twenty-eight-year-old former members of their alma mater’s uncool sorority. Bottles start popping, and a chorus of “it’s wine o’clock!” disjointedly rings through the room. Each woman then goes around in the circle confirming that God has blessed her life, as well as that of her husband Richard, who is the president of the Rotary Club, or alternately her furbaby Cocoapuffs.
At the end of the hour, McDonald finally reveals her masterpiece: a night sky with a full moon reflected in a pond below, mostly identical in color, shape, and scope to the artwork of the twenty-some-odd other participants. “I used to be so desperately anxious about my future. But now I’ve found peace turning my pain…into paint,” she explains. “I feel like I’ve finally found my purpose. Motherfuckin’ rosé all day, baby! Clink CLINK!”
“We’re so proud of our her,” Mallory’s mother, Maura McDonald, sighs. “She’s really branching out. Next week, she’s going to a paint-your-own-pottery studio. Who knows what’s next? An Etsy account?”
When asked how she spends her day when she isn’t bringing more beauty into the world via her generic paintings of sunflowers and tropical sunsets, McDonald looks away coyly for a moment. “Well, my passion takes up most of my free time, but let’s be real, I am looking for a guy,” she assures. “Ideally one who keeps his confederate flag discreetly inside his home, instead of on his car, because again, this is Bumblefuck. I voted for Hillary!”
— A Well-Mannered Grump