“Hey, doc! Wanna go for coffee?” Nick knocked on the doorframe of Stewart’s basement office after he spoke.
Stewart’s eyes looked huge through the magnifiers clipped on his glasses.
“Sure. Where’re we going?”
“Starbucks,” said Nick.
“Great. Gimme ten minutes,” said Stewart. He pulled a roll of duct tape from his desk and ripped off a long piece.
“Whatcha doin’?” asked Nick.
“I’m making a travel mug.”
“Out of duct tape?”
“Stay and watch if you want.” said Stewart as he ripped off a strip with his teeth. Stewart folded several small pieces over to formed a base, then stretched long strips for the sides of the cup.
Within a few seconds Stewart had a duct tape cup with usable handle standing on his desk. Then he went to work on the lid. Nick marveled at how easily Stewart created the resealable flap.
Once he’d finished, Stewart pulled out a Sharpie and drew the Strabucks logo on the cup.
“Why’re you doin’ that?” asked Nick.
“Authenticity,” said Stewart. “What’s the point of being a sigillographer if you can’t show off once in a while?”
“Ten years of university finally pays off, eh?”
“You laugh, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I get a free coffee by doing this. Sometimes they ask me to make one right in the store.”
“Get out. For that?”
“If you don’t believe me, let’s go to the Starbucks on Maple. They’ve put one of my mugs on display.”
Nick’s jaw dropped. “That’s crazy. You’re an artist, man. You missed your calling.”
“Nah. It’s just a hobby. I mean, I wouldn’t ‘ve even started doing this if I didn’t study historic seals and things,” said Stewart. He held up the mug and admired his handiwork. “Think about it. Seals are the logos of antiquity. How amazing is that?”
“Settle, man. You’re gettin’ your geek on again,” said Nick.
“Oh, sorry. I’m just saying, these take nothing to make.”
“Well, what do you think’s more valuable, something that takes five minutes to do, or, say, something like my doctorate, which took ten years of my life?”
Nick sat back in his chair and pondered the question. Stewart took advantage of the silence to add finishing touches to his travel mug.
“I guess it depends,” said Nick.
“Yeah? On what?”
“Women like artists, right?”
“I don’t know,” said Stewart.
“Sure they do. Everybody knows that. So, like, your duct tape travel mugs are sculpture. That makes you an artist.”
“I don’t follow.”
“Ten years of school means you get to work in the basement of a musty old museum, right?”
“You could put it that way.”
“Or, you whip off a few sculptures, which gets you free coffee and attracts women. To me it’s a no brainer,” said Nick.
Stewart rolled his eyes. “Why do I hang out with you?”
Nick smiled. “I’m the janitor. Who else is there for you to hang out with?”