What is Ganap?
Dreaming of Smurfs
Long, long ago–when the internet was young, and all radio ads mentioning websites began with each W and ended in dot com, before Google became a verb–I made a personal website. I learned rudimentary HTML, consulted a friend whose discussions of internet security had more acronyms and befuddling terms than I could process, and racked my brain for a good name, a catchy-but-indie hook.
A few years before this, I was scrambling for non-boring still life objects for my drawing class. I wanted nothing to do with grapes and wine bottles, blowsy chrysanthemums and pretentious vases. A junk shop in the neighborhood had a cardboard box full of Happy Meal (TM) toys, California Raisins, and a handful of plastic Smurf figurines that immediately caught my eye.
The next day, I pinned up my oil pastel: a gigantic roller-skating Smurfette on a trophy platform stating, “It’s so much fun to SMURF AROUND with you!”
My professor looked very dubious, and paused. After a minute of reflection, he mused aloud, “why NOT smurfs?” Why not, indeed! I took my Smurf obsession through the next three years of painting and art education classes, making more and more elaborate narratives with the figures, eventually leading to a wall-sized mixed media altarpiece depicting the four horses of the Apocalypse. My Little Ponies had Smurf riders, and each category of destruction had its own illuminated manuscript panel written in Play-Doh letters.
I finished my painting degree, then got my MAT. Within 9 months, I finished student teaching, worked a summer job, got married, and moved to Northern Virginia to teach full-time at an enormous elementary school. I wanted to make a website where I could show my work, because it was the newest way to establish a name and would help me in my own teaching, to understand these new tools and perhaps introduce my own students to the Joy of Interwebbing.
So I had a dream. It was simple: my husband Dorian was talking to me in it, and said, “how about Gnap?” I woke up and checked its availability, and Ganap (not Gnap, sadly) was free. I got the domain, my friend hooked me up with an email address, and I managed to create some cool pages featuring Smurf photos.
Ah, but what does Ganap have to do with Smurfs? For those of us who are immersed in the arcana of the show, GNAP! is what a smurf shouts when it is bit on the tail by a magical fly, turns purple and angry (in Europe the smurfs turn black, which just has too much baggage in the US), and hops around biting the other Smurfs to spread the disease. Only a breath of blown pollen from a remote, magical flower can cure the Smurfs and halt the community spread. Papa Smurf puffs the antidote from a bellows, after nearly every Smurf had succumbed to the tail-biting madness.
That was 22 years ago. You could say I am a completely different person now, and you’d be mostly right. I still collect Smurfs for my Smurfatorium, I teach Art, and make my own artwork. Now there are boys to manage (2), an old dog, an old house with a yard that yearns to return to wilderness, health issues, and post-pandemic life. Dorian does not offer any more advice in my dreams, but I’ve still got the domain name and a vague recollection of technical acuity. We’ll see if it takes 22 more years for me to finish.