Friday, October 3, 2008

why i love my boyfriend (or, how we found jesus at goodwill)

Anyone who knows me well knows that while I am not religious, I love religious art, especially a certain kind of art I like to call Jesus Kitsch. If a religious figure is printed on a coffee mug, a hand towel, or a lampshade, I want it. If it's airbrushed onto a vehicle or a cheap t-shirt, I covet it. I also have an incurable addiction to thrift store art. So when I found this

on a recent trip to Goodwill, I nearly lost my dang mind. It was leaning against the back wall, tucked safely between a framed mirror and a black and white photograph of confused looking children wearing straw hats.

I held my breath.

I stared at it.

I ran to find the Nerd.

He was at the far end of the store looking at golf clubs. Golf clubs are all Adam ever buys at thrift stores. He takes the clubs apart and uses the handles to make fake swords for some nerdy LARP thing he does. Anyway. Back to the velvet Jesus.

"Omg you are not going to believe what I found!"



"What did you find?"

"I found. A velvet. Jesus."


I yanked him away from the clubs and back to the art corner. There was a lady standing in front of Velvet Jesus and looking at the other stuff on the wall, so I waited anxiously for her to finish. I turned to inspect a shelf stocked with broken appliances and crusty plastic plates. I thought out loud about possibly buying a $3 bubble machine. I turned around again, and my heart sank.

The lady had my Jesus.

I turned to Adam and started whispering frantically.

"Omg. Omg that lady is taking Jesus."

"That's Jesus?"

"Yeah she's taking it! Omg!"

"Well why didn't you pick it up when you found it?"

Okay, I get it. Finders keepers is the unspoken rule of thrifting. Leaving the painting there was a rookie move. But come on, it's a velvet Jesus! How could I have known that at that very moment there would be another person in that Goodwill store who would see a velvet painting of Jesus Christ and think to herself, "Hmm, this would make a lovely addition to my home decor!"?

I was so naive.

She pulled Him out of the stack and turned Him around. She stared at Him for what seemed like an eternity. She inspected the back of the frame, and set Him down again.

Okay, I thought. She's going to put it back now.

She started dragging Jesus to the front of the store.

That was my velvet Jesus, and some mean lady was stealing it. This was some sort of mistake. Surely she could not possibly appreciate such a masterpiece as well as I could. Maybe she was just going to show it to someone and put it back. Maybe she was going to take it to the cashier and point out the fact that the staples sticking out of the broken frame were a safety hazard and it should be kept away from small children. Panic set in as I pictured Velvet Jesus hanging in her poorly lit living room above a hideous pastel 80s sofa.

We followed her.

We stalked her through the furniture section, where she paused to set the painting down and stare at it again. I hid behind a rusty filing cabinet and watched as she ran her hand over the broken frame. She looked unsure of her decision, and I became hopeful. She dragged it a few more feet and set it down again, this time beckoning a friend over and muttering something to her. I briefly considered just asking her for it, but she was a sour-faced, grumpy looking woman, and didn't strike me as the sort of person who would give it to us out of the kindness of her heart once she saw how much I wanted it. Adam, sensing my distress, decided to take action.

"Let's bribe her."


"Is Velvet Jesus worth $20?"

"Yeah, but--"

"I'll get that painting for you."

With that he walked off, leaving me to wander into the clothing section, bewildered. Two minutes later he finds me and tells me that he offered the lady $20 to let us have it, and she said she would think about it. She'd think about it? What was there to think about? There was no way this was going to work.

After rummaging through the golf clubs for a few more minutes, he approached the lady again. I stayed behind and pretended I didn't know him. Despite my unusual appearance I am painfully shy, and I was not about to bribe a total stranger for a velvet painting. Adam, however, is much more outgoing and can talk to anyone. I watched in amazement as he came striding back to the linens section where I was hiding, Velvet Jesus in hand.
Apparently my initial impression of her had been correct. While I like to think that most people would just give it up once they realized someone else wanted it more--especially after admitting that they didn't even like it very much anyway!--the only way to get that painting out of her hand was to appeal to her greed. In total I ended up paying $35 for that painting, plus another $18 worth of golf clubs to thank Adam for his awesomeness. It was so worth it.

I'm going to marry that nerd one day.


jennifer e. said...

This is my thrift store Jesus:

He watches over people using my bathroom.

Christopher And Tia said...

Um. Its totally worth $35.

When I find something that amazing at a thrift store, I physically run to it, and don't let go. My last great find, was a vintage Rainbow Brite play dishwasher. I ran to it, put my arms around it, and yelled "MINE!". Nobody else was after it, but I had to let it be known that if they went anywhere near it, it would be certain death for them. I hauled it up to the front of the store and set it down behind the counter, made extreme eye contact with the cashier and said "this is mine. totally mind. mine mine mine". I don't care if I give people the idea that I'm insane. My daughter and I have an amazing Rainbow Brite dishwasher, and nobody can take that away from us :)

Faye said...

um, I do not know how long it will take me to stop laughing.... Wow, go Adam. Which place of honor will velvet jesus occupy?

crabmommy said... May you worship at the foot of your velvet Jesus forevah!

Wren said...

This was a great story! I'm so glad that velvet jesus has a good home.

Jenifer H said...

I ran across your blog searching for "Bows" on Pinterest. My searching led me here, your Christmas swap disaster got me hooked, but this had me giggling and tearing up at the same time. Envious! :) Hang onto him! Any man who will hunt someone down and bribe said person into giving you a velvet Jesus is a keeper!! :) ♥