We came into some money this weekend.
The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is in town - the Greatest Show on Earth - or at least they say it's the largest gem & mineral show in the country. Now before you shrug your shoulders and say Ehh, the Gem Show is like the biggest thing Tucson does all year. Bigger than the Friends of the Pima County Library Book Sale, even. It lasts for most of February and apparently brings more than 50,000 people from all over the world. From France even. To Tucson! For rocks!
The Gem Show also draws tons of vendors who inexplicably have nothing to do with the dealing of gems and minerals or even fossils at all. And in fact, we never actually look at the gems, minerals, rocks, or fossils, but man, we love the rest of it. Seriously, if it wasn't for the Gem Show, I'm pretty sure Raphael would have hauled us with all our possessions outta here years ago ("Whaddaya mean I can't buy decent African statues with rusty nails poking out of them and weird little bags of herbs or, well, who knows what, stuck in under the nails, that are supposedly used for protection among certain African tribes, in this crappy town?!?").
These people I'm talking about erect big white tent villages around the hotels that line the west side of I-10. They sell:
African art, Pakistani furniture, Indian textiles, Tibetan incense, Nepali jewelry, Afghani rugs. Gleaming statues of Buddha the size of baby elephants (very Buddhist). Stacks of metal bowls, mirrored bags, colored glass lanterns, beaded pouches, market baskets, wooden masks, statues, pots, padlocks, stirrups, fetishes, utensils, scarves, hats, musical instruments, and probably children.
And then there are the rug guys.
We love rugs, but, like many normal people, we can't afford them. Finally we got a great deal on a rug at the Gem Show two years ago from a rug guy named Daroud. We think his name is Daroud. But because we don't actually know how to spell Daroud, I will call him the Rug Man.
Anyway, Raphael's all like BFFs with the Rug Man by now and this year we got some more rugs from him. We feel like the Rug Man gave us a very good deal, and, as we got to talking, it turned out that we had two rugs at home that he was very interested in seeing.
Because who are we to argue with the Rug Man, we brought them over to the Show this weekend. One of them is apparently worth less than a no. 2 pencil with a broken tip to a person who has no access to a pencil sharpener. This one, Daroud kindly kept for a couple days to see if he could sell it for us. This afternoon, we will no doubt pick it up and it will be covered with epithets (Your rug SUCKS! and Your rug hates the American Family!) angrily scrawled by all the people who passed innocently by and were horrifyingly blinded by its staggeringly unappealing rug-ness.
The other rug is one that I found about three-and-a-half years ago while running one sunny morning in a back alley in Raphael's old neighborhood. It was rolled up sadly next to a garbage can but it looked to be in decent condition and didn't have an odor that I could detect. So I rescued it, we beat the hell out of it and sprayed it with a hose and left it hanging in the sun for like a week, and when we lugged it out to the Rug Man yesterday, he promptly offered us five hundred dollars for it.
We didn't take the money. First of all, one of the Rug Man's assistants assured us that we could get more than five hundred for it if we found the right person to buy it. Secondly, this Cinderella rug, our free alley-find-turned-most-expensive-item-in-the-house arouses in us feelings of inconvenient, weapy sentimentality. What we need here is five hundred dollars, not wussy emotion. Nevertheless, the Cinderella rug reminds us of our first couple of years together, when we trolled Tucson's alleys on warm weekend mornings looking for salvageable home furnishings and piles of wood in a cozy fit of icky couple-y nesting.
More than the others, it's our rug. And speaking of nesting, how appropriate that it's also apparently our nest egg.