It happened around 1988-89. I was 4-5 years old. At that time, kids collected gum wrappers. You know, from a bubble gum. We collected such wrappers, some series even had special albums. And we played them. The game was simple. Everyone made a bet, put the wrapper on a flat surface then showed everyone their hands to make sure there was no cheating. If necessary, wiped his palms dry so that the wrappers would not stick. Then clapped on the wrappers.
We usually played on the steps or simply on the road. We took turns, clapped the wrappers with the palm of the hand, trying to hit so that the fingers could pull the wrappers. Those that were turned upside down were considered won. The rest moved on to the next round until all the wrappers were won.
At that time, bubble gum was a rare thing in USSR and sometimes such pictures were drawn by hand. The authors came up with their own plots, heroes, subjects and made colorful or black-and-white drawings. It was considered a special chic to draw not on checkered, gray sheets from notebooks, but on smooth, white, glossy paper. And my brother drew such pictures especially well.
One day my father, who was the captain of the battleship, came home with a lot of goodies. Including a suitcase full of bubble gum. It was an unheard thing — a true treasure for a boy.
I started gutting this suitcase and unwrapping all these bubble gums. I was only interested in the wrappers so I handed out these bubble gums to everyone. And pretty soon I accumulated a gigantic wealth — stacks of wrappers were hoarded in front of me like bars of gold. And I realized it was time for a big game.
The game lasted for several hours. Sometimes it seemed that I would win all the wrappers from all the neighbors. But every time the game stopped, someone new appeared with his collection and everything went on.
Finally, I lost a game to one of the oldest collectors. He came with completely historical wrappers, dusty, ancient Egypt like, almost torn on the fold lines, which were very difficult to lift on impact — they seemed to stick to the surface and almost did not move from their place after the clap. At least after my clap. These pieces of paper obeyed the master’s claps perfectly, dragging my brand-new wrappers with them. In a few hours I beat off my palm and lost everything.
Then I went to my brother. Just like people with gambling addiction go to a loan shark. I asked him to draw me the best, strongest wrapper of all time! And he delivered.
I remember that drawing. He drew the black knight stood over the fallen red dragon. On white, glossy paper. I took this drawing and carried it in front of me like a Holy Grail. I returned to the game. I raised the drawing high above the players and there was silence. Everyone opened their mouths, looking in awe at the masterpiece revealed to the world. Everyone knew that my brother draws outstanding pictures and recognized the hand of a true master immediately.
I offered that drawing as a bet. One for twenty. After all, it was the strongest «wrapper». In addition, my brother forbade me to play it because there could never be a stronger one (I emphasized this fact before starting the game).
I lost that drawing too. Moreover, watching the game, probably out of excitement, one of the players accidentally swallowed a whole box of bubble gum that I gave him earlier. He started screaming in fear and was taken to the hospital to have his stomach cleaned up. And my mother asked my dad to never bring such gifts again. So suitcases of wrappers stopped falling out of the blue.
But I wasn’t upset. Because I was not thinking about losing the game. I was thinking about how my brother drew the strongest wrapper in the game in thirty minutes.
This was my initiation into art.