steph goes to the art store

My wife likes to paint things. She’s a much better artist than I’ll ever be, and I like that the walls of our house get free custom artwork. Every once in a while artists have to go to art stores to get supplies, such as canvases and paints and brushes. We have a great art store about 5 miles from our house that offers crazy good deals on canvases and a selection of paint colors that would make the snobby little kid from your 4th grade class, who was so proud of his box of 96 Crayola crayons, speechless. This weekend was cause for one of those trips to Jerry’s Art Store.

Now, when Steph goes to the art store I usually go with her. My self-appointed job on these trips is to manage expectations. I have but one goal when we go to Jerry’s: To get in, and get out, as fast as humanly possible… otherwise, I will get a call from my bank the next day asking why I have charged $14,000 in paints and brushes to my account.

So we went to the art store Saturday. I did a quick scan of the store – there was a children’s painting class taking up one whole corner of the building, blocking the Easel display. Good, one less area to worry about. I felt comfortable leaving the Papers section unattended – Steph was on a painting trip and trying to finish a project for some friends… drawing was not top of mind. I knew she needed a couple paint based markers, so I escorted her in that direction for a quick drop off while I headed to the Acrylics Paint section. I knew if I could somehow coral five or six shoppers into Acrylics, that would be enough commotion to make Steph want to skip that area.

I quietly pushed a shopping cart over to block one end of the Acrylics aisle and then spread a rumor amongst other shoppers of a “5-for-1 acrylics paint sale”. That seemed to cause the desired result and I ran back to find Steph, who by now had long ago left the paint markers. I raced down to Brushes And Knives to find her holding a 4-inch wide albino Qinling Panda-hair paint brush in her hand, eying it like Gollum at Mount Doom, with a $75.99 price tag dangling daintily from the handle. Frantic, I grabbed her arm and gently turned her towards some modestly priced palette knives while easing the Panda-haired brush from her grip. In disbelief I glanced down at a shopping basket she had acquired sometime in the last five minutes, half full of items not on our shopping list.

I can sense I am beginning to lose control. I plant an idea in Steph’s mind that we “should go look at the art books” over in the Books And Manuals section. This is always a safe bet, because while books tend to be more expensive items, she will rarely buy one and instead thumb through the pictures looking for future ideas. She gives in and I escort her away from Brushes, while suggesting to her that I go scout out vacancy at the checkout counter. I cannot deal with a line at this point. If we have to stand in line at checkout, she’s likely to wander back into Acrylics, and then there will be no hope. We have to walk right up to the cashier, lay down the cash, and get out of there before she has a chance to take in the counter displays.

The checkout line looks good. A beret capped 40-something is just finishing up his purchase, so now is the time to move in. I give the “I’ll be 1 second” gesture to the cashier, who acknowledges me from across the store. I head back to Books to find Steph… who is not there…. Oh good moogly googly, where could she possibly have gone? A feeling of dread overwhelms me as the truth begins to sink in…


Canvases is the black hole of Jerry’s Art Store. It’s seven solid aisles of nothing but stretched white linen. Sheets of canvas as large as pool tables. The walls are made of canvas in Canvases. It’s a maze designed to trap you in, and never let you go, until you have convinced yourself that, “Why yes, certainly I can take home this 7-foot x 13-foot monstrosity of wood and double-primed acid-free linen and conceive upon it a work worthy of Michelangelo’s praise and adulation!” No one ever returns from Canvases.

I hear rustling. “What do you think about this one?” a familiar voice calls out. “What one?” I respond, “Where are you?” I see movement in the far back corner. “I’m right here… I think this one would look good on our living room wall!” A canvas starts to move towards me – yes, move towards me – as though self propelled. Suddenly Steph pops out from behind the 9-foot tall ‘potential of art’, peering up at a canvas which is twice as tall as her. “Maybe it would go better in the stairway where the ceilings are taller,” she counters to herself.

I sigh, and select a more unassuming 2-foot by 2-foot canvas and suggest, “You know, I’ve always wanted something to go on that blank wall in the kitchen. Perhaps you could do something with this?”

I hand it to over, which distracts her long enough for me to guide her out of Canvases and towards the front of the store, where a line has developed at the cash register. Great. We stand there while Patricia and her four kids stock up on enough water colors to keep them busy for the rest of the summer. “You know, I’ve been wanting one of these,” says Steph grabbing an Artist’s Color Wheel from the counter display. “It will help me match colors.” The name of the game is now called appeasement. “Fine,” I say as I hand the cashier my check card and start emptying items out onto the counter.

Of course a trip to the art store with Steph is really nothing like that. The Canvas section is only five aisles wide.

    • Mary
    • July 21st, 2009

    That is the #1 most hilarious story I've ever heard, except perhaps for the Burns Family Christmas Tradition. Baaah ha ha ha ha!!!!

    • Melissa
    • July 30th, 2009

    yes. more blogs like this are requested by your readers.

    • uncle tim
    • August 13th, 2009

    oh stop backpedaling!!! what a great post until you got scared your wife would read it and you'd be sleeping on the couch…it's not that bad, I land there all the time for stupid things I say.

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