Recently some artist friends got to discussing the various mishaps that are sure to be a part of every veteran painter's recconteur repertoire after a decade or two of dealing with one of mankind's most contrary inventions ever. I'm talking about the recalcitrant PAINT TUBE...or other even more despicable containers. Painters, being the cheap sort that they are, often struggle endlessly with nearly empty tubes of paint to get the last little smidgen out onto their palette. (Very often it's so dried up once it's finally forced out as to be practically useless; but merely freeing it from the paint tube is a victory of sorts.) And don't get me started on childproof bottles with sticky varnishes or mediums!

However as bad as nearly empty tubes of paint can be, it's the FULL ones that are most LETHAL. I once had a tube of burnt umber with this heavy plastic film over the end, presumably to protect it's freshness. Well, it succeeded. It was fresh at least fifteen minutes longer because I couldn't get the damn thing off. I guess I should have taken something sharp and punctured it, but instead, in lieu of fingernails, I put it up to my teeth to get a grip on the edge. Bad mistake. You guessed it, I ended up with burnt umber oils across my two front teeth (as they say), lips, even a little in my mouth. I'm glad no one was around to see me. (Burnt Siena has a better flavor. I once ended up with some of that in my mouth from a brush between the teeth, but that's another bad habit.)

But it's not just paint TUBES that can kill. One time at school, I had an art aide (teenage boy) dispensing tempera paint from one of those gallon containers with a plastic pump. They have a tendency to build up a little "nub" of dry paint overnight which must be removed or it has a tendency to pop off and "squirt" the pumper. Well, this kid couldn't get any paint out the first time or two so he took it upon himself to POUND the damn thing. Well, he had yellow tempera all OVER him and everything within three feet of him. It was so bad I had to send him to the showers (with his clothes ON) Thank goodness for hand dryers in the locker room. He was over an hour getting cleaned up and dried off. So much for MACHO painters!