My husband gave me a little job to do while he’s out of town. He handed me a piece of paper with some numbers on it and asked me to buy new tires for his car. Four of them. Fortunately, this is not the first time I’ve been sent to buy something I know nothing about.
When I was in high school, my mother sent me to a sporting goods store to buy my older brother a cup for football. My younger brother heard us talking and said he needed one, too. I didn’t ask why one needed to be medium and one needed to be large. And I didn’t understand the difference between an athletic supporter and a cup until I got to the store and learned the latter is not something to drink out of. On stormy nights I still have flashbacks of the clerk’s explanation. I think he must have gone a year or two to medical school.
Ever since that harrowing experience, I’ve insisted on full disclosure before I agree to go shopping for someone else to buy something I know nothing about. I make them write down exactly what they want. Size, color, inseam, diameter, tensile strength, thread count, octane content, length, height, width, square inches, decaf or regular, with or without deodorant and for crying out loud make it legible. The model number is good, too. I’ll take the SKU number if you’ve got it.
As is turns out, this is an especially good rule when it comes to tires because—and I’m not trying to be funny here—they all look alike. Round. Black. Rubbery. So I was a little annoyed when I discovered my husband ignored my policy.
I handed the impatient clerk the paper with the information my husband wrote down. He clicked on his computer for a minute, swung the screen around to face me and began speaking in sales-ese. He droned on and on about the virtues of the models he recommended—any one of which, he asserted, would be an exceptional choice. He bragged about tread depth and treadwear expectancy. With one brand we’d save fuel because new technology resulted in a tire that rolled more easily. Really? It’s round. It’s a tire. What else would it do but roll?
He claimed another tire offered exceptional traction on icy and slick roads. Oh? I may not know much about buying tires, but I know enough to not expect exceptional traction when driving on ice.
He wrapped up his pitch by showing me samples, spinning each in a full 360 for my inspection and encouraging me to touch the tread. Then he looked at me expectantly, waiting for my decision.
Buying a cup for my brothers so they could play football without risking their future procreative privileges was a breeze compared to shopping for tires. I tried to choose. I really did. But my head was spinning like a flat tire on an icy road. I gave up, came home and put my feet up.
Sorry, Honey. You’re going to have to buy your own tires. But if you ever decide to go out for football, I’m your girl.
When the weather is nice, my husband takes a walk in the morning. He gets his exercise for the day while picking up cans and watching the sunrise. He varies his route between back roads and highways, and while he’s walking he finds things. All sorts of things. And he brings them home. Things like credit cards, smashed cell phones, hubcaps, pieces of clothing, deflated balls, sunglasses, and run-over ball caps. Mostly useless things, like the day he brought home Bobble Jesus.
I hated it the minute I saw it. Why would anyone make such a thing? Or buy it? Or bring it home from a walk? The next thing I knew, it had been affixed to the top of my refrigerator. In my kitchen.
The kids got a kick out of leaning it over to one side and letting go to watch it bobble back and forth. So did the cats. I nick-named it Bobble Jesus and figured the thrill would wear off, hopefully by trash day, and I could get rid of it. But it’s been seven months and it’s still there. Here’s why.
As I went about my daily tasks of fixing meals and folding laundry at the kitchen table, under the watchful eye of Bobble Jesus, the thing grew on me. It reminded me that the real Jesus promised to keep his eye on me. It reminded me of his constant presence in my life. That he was available 24/7 to hear a prayer, a complaint, or supply me with needed wisdom.
At first, I hated it when one of the kids made Jesus bobble. I called out, “Stop it! Leave it alone.” But one day I realized that too often in this life we leave Jesus alone. We don’t touch him or make him a part of our day. We don’t interact with him. Every now and then, when no one is looking, I give him a nudge myself and watch him go.
So Bobble Jesus is still on the fridge. Yes, it’s stupid and corny and silly, but I like it. I don’t worship it, but I do worship the one it reminds me of. And now when one of the cats sends Jesus into motion with a swipe of a paw, I laugh – and shoot up a prayer of thanksgiving for the reminder that Jesus is constantly on the move in my life.
“Honey, remember the one of Zachary holding Sarah the day we brought her home from the hospital?” my husband reminisces.
“Oh, yes.” I nod my head, remembering. “That was precious. Too bad the camera battery was dead.”
We have no pictures of our daughter feeding herself cake at her first birthday party because the flash wasn’t turned on. I can’t show my son the photo of him winning the sack race on Field Day in Kindergarten because I left the camera at home. And a picture of me, posing with a very handsome Canadian Mountie, never made it home because my husband dropped the film when he was changing rolls and it went over Niagara Falls. He still swears it was an accident.
When we finally got a digital camera we thought things would change. We have striking photos of our trash sitting at the curb, me coming out of the shower, and the cat using the litter box. The kids took those.
Occasionally, I miss not having pictures of Christmas morning, the day the cat had kittens, and the time we were on vacation in Colorado and saw the double rainbow. But somehow, there are pictures in my mind of all these important life events. Many are probably in sharper focus and more beautifully framed than the photos would have been. They are stored away where they can’t be destroyed by flood or fire. There are no fingerprints on them. And I don’t have to spend hours putting them into albums to enjoy them. I just close my eyes.