We’d browsed taffy, yard goods and shops that had signs warning intruders the locals were armed and ready to rock and roll. It’s a fun crawl into great shops and eventually we took a left into one of my favorite Eureka shops, Gardenfire.
I’d like to say I made a beeline to the Christian t-shirts but that’d be a bold-faced lie (and there were too many witnesses to get away with it since one them edits this little bit of writing I do).
I veered over to the adjoining shop that has tons of vintage toys. I eye-balled an old Fort Apache, with its sheet metal sides that folded up into a suitcase of sorts that held all the plastic cavalrymen and Indians that went with the set. I got one, for Christmas, I think in 1968 and I recall seeing it as I was coming downstairs to find it open, with a tableau of old west combat, plastic braves and soldiers in a swirl of melee in front of its gates. My dad had a lot of faults but not loving toys was not one of them.
I regaled my wife and daughter about what a great toy it was and they nodded and smiled. It was obligatory attention but I took it.
Eventually I ended up over at Gardenfire and my daughter and I browsed the shirts, pointing out the ones we felt where powerful, or funny, or both. We had so much fun that the rest of our shopping party abandoned us. Likely in search of a do-dad, or a geegaw, or very likely in my wife’s case, a bathroom.
My girl saw several shirts she liked and pointed out a 2 for $25 sign. First she angled for two shirts then hit on the strategy that we could each get one. I agreed, happy that she’d found some shirts that spoke to her. It was the first time she expressed an interest in wearing a shirt that identified her as a believer.
Sure she wears her S.T.A.R. Labs or Gravity Falls shirts proudly, and I have no issue with that. She sleeps sometimes in a 12th Apostle shirt but it’s too big to wear out in public So it made me happy she wanted a Christian shirt of her own. One she could wear to school or when she hung out with her pals.
She chose one that read More Him Less Me, with a citation to John 3:30. It was simple but bold. I approved.
Me, well I looked and looked and settled on one with the image of a lion that, when you look closely, is filled with scripture referring to Christ. As I always loved the reference to Jesus as The Lion of Judah, it was a pretty much a no-brainer for me.
So I asked a helpful clerk if he had the lion shirt in my size, a large, pretty common, and he says, well no, he’s out. Ugh, I was bummed. I started to ask about another shirt I was less keen about and he tells me, once again in a manner that only can be considered mega-cheerful, they’d gladly send me a shirt in my size free of charge if that was the shirt I wanted.
Bingo. This guy just sold a shirt.
So we headed over and he rang me up, but it was more than 25 bucks. Not much more, but more. I mentioned it to the guy. I’m not sure why. I normally don’t sweat such things, but I did. He said, well, the lion shirt isn’t one of the sale shirts. I looked up and, yes, it was pretty clear it wasn’t.
So, I kid you not, I almost thought about not getting the shirt. For a second there I started so say forget it. Over, what? Like five dollars? And with my daughter beaming next to me.
I looked at the shirt and the lion seemed to say to me, “Okay John, when have I ever short-changed you? You getting cheap on me, now? I died for your sins and you’re going to put a shirt back that reminds you and others of that fact because it costs five bucks more than you expected?”
Feeling sheepish, I paid the young man, gave him my address and we told him goodbye.
My daughter and I walked across the street arm in arm and found my wife, my sister and my niece all moseying along heading back down, still bobbing in and out of shops.
“Where have you two been?” my wife asked.
“We got ourselves some shirts at Gardenfire,” I replied.
Lion one, cheap-sheep zero.