“I NEED TWENTY BUCKS!!!”
I’m standing on the sidewalk outside a row of semi-legit art galleries on First Friday when the woman walks up to me. Normally in these situations I shrug and walk the other way. But she’s very attractive, and I’m scared of her in this frantic state. Mostly, that second one. Also we’re married, and I seem to recall some vow about richer and poorer and till a 20 dollar bill do you part.
I tell her all I have is a five. “We need to find twenty bucks,” she declares. She is clearly on A Mission.
Mo doesn’t become desperately smitten with art too often. But when she does, there’s no stopping her, at least without a fire hose. I survey the vicinity and there appears to be none. So we’re off for money.
The artist, who apparently deals in cash only, has told her there’s an ATM in the liquor store down the street. I veto this immediately, pointing out we would likely be handing out twenties to many people if we tried that. So we go to the car and head out on our treasure hunt.
The problem: Downtown is in total lockdown. The Diamondbacks’ season opener is tonight. And there’s some sort of festival that has shut down half of the streets in the area. Mo is undeterred.
We use the GPS to find the nearest ATM for our bank. A mere go straight, right turn, veer left, turn right, U-turn, go through alley, you’re here later, we arrive. Alas, it appears to be the interplanetary headquarters. No parking, no ATM, no twenty.
So we head out for a convenience store. A mere seven hours of turtle traffic later, we arrive at one.
There are basically two kinds of convenience store: Those with a security cop outside, and those without. This is the first kind.
I buy a soda while a woman screams at another woman. The clerk, helping me, never even looks up. You can’t do that, he tells her. She continues screaming. The cop steps in. “Is there a problem?” he asks. I ponder an alternative universe where a screaming woman is not a problem. Luckily, the uproar provides cover as I get 40 bucks from the clerk and make my way out. Mo buys a Dr Pepper. Sometimes the situation requires a Dr Pepper. Mo is wise.
From there, we just have to make our way back to the gallery on Grand Avenue. Except we’re backwards now. We’re watching on the wrong side of the road so it takes forever to find it. Luckily, the 3 mph traffic means I’ve lost all sense of space and time.
And then, there it is. Mo jumps out and runs in. She comes back out, triumphantly waving the painting, which she had at first accidentally given the guy a 10 dollar bill for, assuming the store clerk had given us twenties.
And that was how we came to own a painting that passes the Kondo test of sparking joy. Mo is happy, and when Mo is happy, I am happy.
The best part: After all that, the artist said, “Oh, I would’ve taken a credit card. I just prefer cash.”
Artists are funny.