Seeing Vincent

Amber and I just recently saw the new movie “Loving Vincent,” which is the world’s first completely hand-painted feature film. We didn’t necessarily know what the movie was about, just that we knew we should watch it. We did, if sort of by mistake.

Our bed is broken, by the way. Amber’s side, specifically, and I know why. Every time she gets home from work or school, she will first throw her things onto the ground and then throw herself onto the mattress like an overreacting child in a play pretending to be shot. If you do this enough times, we have found, it will break what can only be Amazon’s cheapest bed frame. Because of Amber’s bad back, I have volunteered to switch her sides of the bed. The situation I was in didn’t really bother me at first, only one of the ten bars on my side that was holding the mattress was missing. One night when I was eager to fall asleep I knocked another bar out—both of which are next to each other and happen to meet right around the small of my back. If I slept on my stomach I would start to feel as though I was doing yoga poses against my will all night. The mattress slowly kept seeping right in the middle towards the ground, and only on my new side. Rather than buy a new frame though, I suggested to Amber we go to Home Depot to find a solution.

I am not a Home Depot guy; Amber is not a Home Depot gal. There are Home Depot people who seem to know every nook and cranny. Need a blade for your power drill? Follow me. Oh, a cactus and a new chandelier? Right this way. Amber and I are not like that and so it took us a good deal of time just to figure out a proper solution. We finally found some metal piping that seemed as though it would work, and were told that the plumbing department could cut it into pieces for us. We then wondered around almost the entire store again, before stumbling on plumbing. We found the pipe cutter, but no one was waiting idly by to man it. Around the corner, Amber and I found an employee next to a ladder. After much time fumbling about “who last had to talk to someone,” etc., we both approached the man, who happened to climb up his ladder the second we turned the corner. Discouraged, we walked back to the cutter, close to fed up with Home Depot’s inability to read our minds.

When the employee finally got off his ladder, we almost ran to him. “Can you cut this? Who do we talk to for something like that? Is it you?” I can never manage to ask things from strangers the way I want to. The man gladly said he could help us.

“You mark it I cut it,” he said, handing me a Sharpie. “Do you need this to look nice? My machine is gonna leave some scratches.”

We said no, and minutes later he handed us four perfectly cut replacement parts for our bed. All we have to do now is crimp down the ends with a vice to make them fit into the old slots at the ends.

We were both hungry as we were leaving, and Amber suggested a Home Depot dog as a joke, which really just excited me to eat some food, and she had me convinced. “Yes,” I replied.

“Really?” She said.

“Yes. That sounds good!” And soon we were in front of the vendors of the Home Depot hot dog stand—an elderly couple: a woman who took our orders, got our dogs and placed them in the bun; and her husband, who mostly just watched football on tv. The couple seemed hesitant about us at first; then the woman gave me the receipt and I employed my usual 20% tip to the total. She then immediately perked up, as if tips were a sort of holy grail for her profession—I was the bearer of some sort of rare, exotic and wonderful news. After mostly not talking, she then asked Amber and I about our day and what we would be up to. She also complimented my shirt. Her husband, still mostly focused on the tv, asked us what we’d like on our hot dogs. Knowing that the station was self serve, however, he soon gave up on helping us in favor of football on tv.

Next on the list before we went home was to look for a music adapter I needed at Best Buy (who no longer sells any music equipment, other than online), and finally to go to an Asian market so that Amber could find some cooking ingredients.

The Best Buy did not seem to yield many results. Amber set off to look for cameras and I headed to where the music equipment used to be. There, I saw two employees. “But R, I don’t really understand how I’m supposed to set up the new display and a customer is asking me about it, do you know?”

“Well I’m sorry,” said R. “I’m off the clock, they’d get mad at me if I helped you. Get mad at us.”

R’s coworker walked away, but when one of his managers came out, he said, “Hey, P, I just got a new TV but can’t get the HDMI to work. Do you know what I should do?”

P answered his question, off the clock. On her way off, R said, “One more thing. A new guy was asking me a question while I was off the clock and I didn’t help him.”

“Good,” P responded, “that’s what you’re supposed to do in that situation. Don’t help them.”

Prior to this, Amber and I had ran into a childhood friend in the entrance of the store. “Hi, E,” I said. “This is my girlfriend, Amber.”

E proceeded to give me a handshake at a ridiculous angle and stare a what I can only assume was a single hair I had sticking up on my head. “How’s it going?” I asked.

“I’m good, how are you?”

“Good!”

He kept staring at the same spot. Just one hair sticking up. He then proceeded to quickly look me up and down, judging everything I had chosen to wear. “Are you sure you’re good?” He responded.

“I think so,” I said. We (the three of us) slowly rounded the cardboard DVD display stand we had been casually looking at to keep things as normal as possible. E was now really staring the DVDs down, though, as if he knew one had a golden ticket to live in L.A. for free or something like that. I watched him move out of the way a portly blonde woman who had also been giving the DVDs a good eying. After a few seconds of looking, E glanced up and seemed almost surprised that I would still be standing there, wondering if this was the end of our interaction or not, and if he had known the portly woman he’d manhandled earlier.

“This is my girlfriend,” he finally said, pointing the the woman he’d been avoiding around the DVDs. Her and I and Amber exchanged our hellos, and I left as soon as possible, knowing I had no regrets towards never talking to them again in my life.

When we left Best Buy I thought I could kill two birds with one stone, so we headed to Glendale, the Russian neighborhood in Denver. Amber and I stopped at a Guitar Center so that I could look again for my part. “I didn’t want to go out,” she said.

“I didn’t know, I’m sorry. You said ‘Asian market’…” I trailed off, realizing that not only had I gone all the way to Denver, but I had gone to the Russian neighborhood to find an Asian market. Amber forgave my stupidity, and driving around, we found the Chez Artiste Theatre. Neither of us had been there, but recognized it as being one of Denver’s only three artsy cinemas. Amber was looking up showtimes as I was looking through things I didn’t need to spend money on. We found a showtime, got snacks at a local Dollar Tree, and went in.

I suppose we did not see “Loving Vincent” on accident, it was very much on purpose. We really didn’t mean to see it on this day, though. Or at this theater. We’d both assumed that, like all people who want to watch an artsy thing, we would be forced to buy it since it would never be popular enough for streaming. I think that maybe it makes a difference that we saw the movie in an actual locally-owned, small theater. Isn’t that the point of things like these? Watching the movie on a small but glamorous screen, I was inspired. For me, it was surely the fact that Van Gough struggled with depression, but also there was a small conspiracy surrounding his death, which is something I pine for upon my passing. I also found solace in knowing that Van Gough is an internationally acclaimed artist, but you can still only find “his” latest masterpiece in small, cramped, local theaters.

Maybe someone will come to see my late works in a small, cramped theater someday. God willing.

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