Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Click here, then read.

In Arizona, summertime is for tackling projects inside the house, rather than outside in the death-inducing heat. Like many people down here, I have a list of things to do: re-caulk the tub, paint the kitchen, somehow get my cats to stop pushing out the screen door goddamnit. Today I stopped procrastinating and finally took on a project I’ve been putting off for months: framing two prints that should be hanging on the wall, looking at me, instead of sitting on the floor watching my cats’ buttholes parade by.

The task seemed easy enough: buy two frames and stick ‘em in there. However, once I arrived at the frame shop, I encountered a problem: one of my prints was from Oman, where I had vacationed earlier this year. My Omani print was not a standard size: it was not 5x7, or 8x10, or even 10x20. No, it was something more like 17 and four fifths by 13 and seven tenths. The man behind the counter said something about the Dewey Decimal System or metrics or decimation, whatever; my mind had stopped listening, blocking out all this useless information. I waited impatiently for him to finish the math lesson, then asked him what I should do.

“You’ll need to buy a custom frame.”

“How much is that?”

“One hundred and fifty dollars.”

One hundred and fifty dollars!? I had only paid thirty bucks for the print itself, a fact that I quickly conveyed to the man, who chuckled. “That’s very common,” he said. “But at least you’ll have a unique frame that nobody else has.” I know I looked at him like he was crazy, I was crazy, and anybody who wanted a unique frame that cost $150 was also cray-zee.

“Okay,” I said, pulling out my credit card. “But what about this other one? It’s not a weird size, is it?”

“No,” he said, examining the colorful print of a sunset I’d purchased in Key West on my last trip there many years ago when my lying impostor of an ex-husband took me on vacation with money he did not have, further running up the credit card debt that he then passed on to me in our divorce. No wonder it’s a sunset, I thought, looking at the print. Should’ve been a frickin’ hurricane.

The salesman helped me pick out a standard-sized 8x10 wood frame for the Key West print, and I left the Omani one behind so that it could be primped and coddled into its exotic, one-of-a-kind, expensive frame. When I got home, I immediately set to the task of putting the Key West print into its new standard-sized home.

But it wouldn’t go in there.

It almost did: one half of the print slid into the recessed area in back of the frame, but the other half stuck out like the up side of a teeter-totter. I’d get one side all snug and tucked in, then go to work on the other, only to have the teeter-totter effect reverse. It didn’t take long before this entirely unsatisfactory situation started to raise my blood pressure.

The print was supposed to fit into that frame, and I was intent on making it do so.

To quote my idiom-challenged neighbor, in two shakes and a lamb and a jiffy I had cut off one end of the cardboard mat to make it shorter. Next, I placed the shorn mat onto the back of the open frame and gently pushed it in. When gently didn’t work, I firmly pushed it in. When firmly didn’t work, I mashed it into the corners of the recessed area and slammed the back of frame shut, its hinges bulging out. I got a knife and started carefully—but firmly—pressing down on the frame’s metal tabs, trying to get them to slide under the wood to hold my print in place.

It only took a few minutes of this pressing and sliding and pushing and forcing before the frame exploded on my kitchen table, separating at the seams and sending all parts flying into the air. I instinctively shouted and stepped back as the knife slipped out of my hand and the 8x10 sheet of picture glass flew towards me. If I was ever going to be eviscerated, now was the time. I closed my eyes and waited.

Fortunately (depending on if you are my ex-husband’s girlfriend or not) I escaped injury, as did the Key West sunset print itself, but the frame is totaled. Under all that pressure, it finally met with its own personal hurricane and completely fell apart.

I know exactly how it feels.


  1. Last year I had a similar experience.
    Poster bought at Tintagel Castle in U.K.: £5
    Custom Frame bought at Michael's in U.S.: $300

    Unusual map of "Arthur's England" in a totally cool frame on my living room wall: $308.45


  2. Yes, custom framing can be quite the rip-off, as I learned long ago. But at least you got a great blog posting out of it!