The six most feared words in my world are: “I’m going to the paint store.”

If my artist wife and I have been together for two decades, the paint store has been a fixture in our relationship for just as long. And it stubbornly sat there between us for 15 years.

Every so often, she would take her one-hour round trip and come home with a car full of supplies. When she got home, I would ask the question I didn’t really want to know the answer to: “How much did you spend?”

Inevitably, my response to the dollar amount was, shall we put it mildly, incredulous.

“You spent how much?!” were usually the first four words out of my mouth. They were usually followed immediately by various other epithets and exclamations that don’t make much sense in a sentence.

Despite not wanting to know the answer and my less-than-enthusiastic reaction, her art business wasn’t making a profit and I was the budgeter in the family; so I had to know the answer, especially if we wanted to eat dinner that month.

Artist Spotlight - Karen Bishop

It took me about 15 years and a trip to a card store with our son for me to gain the perspective I needed. (Bless her heart for putting up with my over-the-top reaction each time. A saint, I say. Like her parents.)

In west Edmonton, there’s a sports card store. It’s tucked into the back of a nondescript plaza across the street from the largest mall in North America.

I remember the first time I brought my sports-crazed son for a visit. He was 6 years old. We pulled up to security-bar-covered windows and he looked at me unimpressed. His eyes were shouting, “This is it? Dad? C’mon!”

I turned my keys to shut the car off, we unbuckled our seatbelts, and stepped out onto the snow-specked pavement of the parking lot. We carefully walked to the door. My son looked up at me as I pulled the door open. The bell tied to the top of the door rang, letting the shopkeepers know someone was entering.

Then, my son stepped across the threshold. He slowly scanned the scene in front him. Sports memorabilia — hockey, football, baseball — covered the shelves down the aisle directly in front of him. The far wall was covered from floor to ceiling in shelves about 8 inches vertically apart; each littered with stacked cases of cards dating from the 1960s to the 2020s. And not just sports. Pop culture trading cards that were popular in the ’80s — like American Gladiators, The Flintstones, and Super Mario Bros. Super Show — were all on offer.

After taking it all in, my son turned around and looked up at me. His eyes were three times their normal size, his mouth was gaping in a grin, and he was trembling with excitement. That told me all I needed to know.

I gave him a nod and he ran off into the store. Forget the candy shop, this was the card shop!

I’ve never been to my artist wife’s paint store with her. But I imagine that every time she steps through its door, she reacts the same way, bouncing down the aisles like a kid – our kid – in a card shop.

And so, thanks to our son, I gained perspective on those six words that once haunted me.

My perspective might also have been helped by the fact that her art business turned the corner and has been profitable the last several years. She’s been able to cover the supplies through her business.

Despite the monetary price to be paid, I’m grateful that my wife gets so much joy from a simple trip to the paint store.

She should go every week… as long as she remains profitable as an artist. If that changes, I might revert to rocking back and forth in the corner whenever I hear those six words.

Read It Again