Sometimes I wish that my blog was more helpful. You know, that I came up with suggestions on how people could improve their lives or directed readers to eBay auctions for ultra-hip items they never knew they wanted. You look at the hardships being suffered in places like
So today I’ve decided to infuse my blog post with a lesson. And the lesson is this: “If you’ve ever thought about taking a poster to a frame shop to get framed, don’t take a poster to a frame shop to get framed.”
Everyone here should know how this started. One year ago, in one of the most romantic gestures in history, I stole Brooke’s Marc Chagall poster from her old apartment. I intended on surprising her by having it framed and hung in her new apartment, except instead I accidentally left it on the subway on my way home. Oops. Sorry. I guess I was distracted by the huge, beating heart on my sleeve.
Anyway, Brooke wrote this post about it. My mom, ever the peacemaker, read the post, and the following week I received a package in the mail from Art.com. Some people may call this “meddling,” whereas I just call it “free stuff.” One of the few rules I strictly follow in life is to never refuse anything that’s free. Some people may stand up for things like honor and dignity. For example, if someone punched you in the face and then offered you $100 in compensation, some people would say, “I don’t want your blood money!” I would take the money, and then when he wasn’t looking I would throw a garbage can at him.
Now, of course, it falls to me to follow through on my original loving intentions and have this poster framed. On Saturday, Brooke and I walk to the frame store around the corner. In protest of the increasingly cold weather, this is one of the few trips outside I will allow myself. I try to explain to Brooke how this heightens the romance, but she isn’t buying it. We arrive at the store and it seems run down in every way. Cluttered, dusty, unorganized. I think, “It must be hard to run a business of framing things . . .”
We browse the various frame styles. I prefer something gold and ornate; Brooke likes her frames like she likes her men: black and simple. We spread the poster out on the table and immediately the owner of the shop begins speaking to us in a tone of voice that was equal parts creepy and condescending, as though he were a ghost who didn’t put much stock in our knowledge of frames. (At one point, mid-sentence, he glances down at the print and mumbles, “God, he loved his wife.” I’m not sure if he’s talking about Chagall or himself, remembering a happier time before he murdered his wife.)
We start with the gold frame. I’m liking the way it looks, and Brooke is coming around. We express our approval and ask for a price. He starts tallying things on a computer. This is the first sign that something might be wrong. He is muttering words like “backing” and “mounting” and “per square foot.” Suddenly, he looks up from his computer and says, “You’re looking at about $267.00.” I try to seem unastonished, like I am a man of the world who has had many things framed and understands the high price of the craft. Brooke vocalizes our shock before I can: “Let’s look at something cheaper.”
So he prices out the simple, black frame that Brooke choose and, after doing his calculations, says, “Here you’re looking at about $155.00.” (Just so everyone is clear, that’s a $25 poster and a $155 frame.) I wanted to scream at him, “IT’S A BLACK FRAME. HAVEN’T YOU EVER BEEN TO IKEA? THEY MAKE BLACK FRAMES LIKE COWS TAKE SHITS.” But again, Brooke took the reigns: “We’ll think about it.”
Once we got outside though it was Brooke who went on the offensive. “$250? That seems really expensive for a frame for a $20 poster. Plus that guy was creepy. He had crazy eyes. We’re not going back there.” Exhausted from all the drama, we decided to regroup and try again on Sunday.
The next day, we call a few stores and end up with one a few blocks down from us, one of the few in the neighborhood open on a Sunday. In yet another act of loving sacrifice, I stop watching football to go to the frame store. When we get there, the woman who owns it tells us that it would be at least a half an hour until she could help us. She offers to buy us a cup of coffee in the meantime. It is slowly becoming clear that framers make more money than I thought.
We decide to leave and come back later. On the way home, Brooke, who was clearly in House Modification Mode at this point, asked me if we could go to the hardware store to buy the second coat of paint for the bedroom.
“You were serious about that?”
“Of course I was. It needs a second coat.”
“I thought that was just one of those things we said at the time when we were really into painting.”
“No, it’s one of those things that we said because it’s true.”
Regardless, I was already missing football to frame this poster that, maybe you forgot, I stole in one of the most romantic gestures of all time. (Maybe my second lesson from this post would be: “Execution of romantic gestures is as important as planning them.” Or maybe: “Screw romance, give good head.”)
We go back half an hour later. Before walking in Brooke reminds me that we aren’t going for any fancy gold stuff – just a basic black frame. We walk in the store and I spread the poster out on the counter. The girl asks, “So what were you thinking for this,” and without thinking I respond, “Maybe something gold and ornate?” Brooke turns to me with a look of anger and disappointment. The girl pulls a few frame samples to show us, and I choose one. Brooke interrupts our artistic musings and says, “OK, how much does that one cost?” The girl plunks some numbers into her computer just as the other guy did, only this time we hear new, more expensive sounding things like “UV glass” and “sealant.” She looks up from her computer and says, “That would be $620.40.”
Brooke: “Did you say $62.40?”
Girl, who has look of fear on her face in answering Brooke: “$624.40.”
Brooke: “Thanks. We’ll think about it.”
We get outside and Brooke explodes. “That bitch! How dare she suggest that we buy a $600 frame for a $15 poster!” (The longer Brooke argues, the cheaper the poster gets. I imagine a few more trips like this and she will be complaining, “How could they! For a poster that only cost $2!”) We head home and Brooke fixes a drink to calm herself. Ah, white middle-class problems . . .
So that’s where we stand, wounded but not defeated. I think, for the rest of her life, Brooke will have a nervous tick when someone mentions the words “UV glass.” (“Who puts UV glass on a $10 poster!?”) But on the bright side, this romantic gesture of mine has brought us together, united us in a battle against the framers of the world, who clearly are the monsters of big business, hiding out in small framing shops across
Where we go from here, I don’t know. Although someone suggested we try a premade frame from K-Mart, which sounds great right about now. Who needs hand crafted frames when I can get frames made of real wood, hand chopped by some of the strongest children
“That kid has a job,” I’ll muse, “because of me.”