A painting of a box of Cheddar Jack Cheez-Its
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The Only Cheez-It That Can Never Be Eaten

Now, y’all know me–I’m what the internet refers to as a Wife Guy; which as far as I can tell just means I actually like the woman I married? Like she’s my best friend and I love getting to live my life with her and our life together, why WOULDN’T I talk about her every day? Are the other Marrieds okay?
I’m also what’s known as a romantic motherfucker, which in my particular context means I’ve learned my wife’s love languages and pitch woo at her by keeping the electric bill as low as I can, vacuuming every day so she doesn’t have to, and putting gas in her car when the elaborate set of diversions required to distract her actually comes together for fucking once.

A cowboy in an unbuttoned button-up shirt, sunglasses and a hat; I think he's got like a 15-pack abs
Clarf, no, if you come IN with your shirt unbuttoned, what are you going to BUILD TO? It’s about the TEASE, not the REVEAL! This is what happens when we skip rehearsal because the carnival is in town!

Around the turn of the new year I started turning the anniversary present question over in my mind-hands, like a raccoon with a popcorn ball, staring into the forest night. It’s a big anniversary–maybe not by the numbers, but because the world is trying to fucking kill us all every day and has failed to do so for another year, and so I wanted to do something special. I’ve tried in years past to honor her practical nature and bow to her ridiculously practical requests: a new vacuum, a donation to our local animal shelter (she is nonreligious but makes an exception for pound-animals, for whom she prays nightly), renewing her registration, etc. BORING. But she has also always said that some of the best gifts are just things you would never buy for yourself, and reader, I think we both know what leapt immediately to mind: an bespoke oil painting of her all-time, #1, has-it-instead-of-a-real-dinner snack, Cheddar Jack Cheez-Its.

A suit-sleeve clad arm extends a burlap sack with a dollar-sign on it. Where do you GET those, anyway? Is it what the Dollar Store puts your stuff in when you buy it? If not, that's a missed opportunity.
Cheez-Its: Not my sponsor, but if they’d LIKE to be

Now if you’re anything like me, you’re Extremely–perhaps DANGEROUSLY–Online, and one of the places you do that is beloved local hellsite Twitter Dot Com, and also if you’re like me, your feed is carefully curated to be 80% art, that 80% being 50% adorable low-fi cottagecore bunnies and froggums, and 50% godless nightmare-monsters from the depths of Hell’s blackest seas. It was in this, I think we can agree, very normal content-space that I discovered an artist called Noah Verrier, whose oil paintings of jelly doughnuts and cinnamon rolls and grilled cheese you have doubtless both seen and been enhungered by. But his purview was doughnuts and grillĂ©d-cheeses and similar, and these are not the ways of my people, these do not provide the sodium and the concentrated orange that we require to live and flourish.
BUT! It then transpired that dude had an apprentice who learned his ways and applied them to his own artistic career, painting the delicious garbage-snacks of the world, and as if you hadn’t guessed yet it was Tall Greg. How tall exactly, we can’t be sure, although some amateur Gregamaticians have given it the ol’ college try:

Oh boy this is uh, okay, so it's Greg, the titular Wimpy Kid from those Diaries? And stacked next to him are three images of his little brother Manny, which come to almost a whole head-bigness taller than him. A caption reads "The height of the average 3 y/o is 37 inches, Greg is 2 1/2 Mannys tall, that means greg Heffley, a middle schooler, is 7'" (2.36 meters)

It's, uh--
It's less funny when you have to describe it.
Sounds about right, as far as I’m willing to be concerned.

I reached out via Greg’s web-site and we later had a phone call, and I had to pretend I understood the first goddamn thing about art for half an hour and pray to the gentle shade of Bob Ross that I was giving useful answers to his questions. WHEN IN DOUBT: fall back on Phthalo Blue.
But my fears were unfounded; Greg is genuinely the coolest, nicest dude and was happy to walk me through the process and explain the various options available to me re: frame-type, class of paint, cursed-to-remain-empty-while-the-real-boxes-of-Cheez-Its-in-our-cabinet-remain-eternally-full, pretty basic Art Stuff.

Now readers, allow me to Get Real with you for a second; picture me turning a chair around and sitting on it backwards, like Mirror-Universe Riker presumably does. Talking about money is weird? And I’m pretty uncomfortable about it but the only ones who benefit from us not talking about it are the people who control it, so even though I feel gross saying it, I will say that I saved up and paid $1,100 flat for this painting, including shipping, which SEEMS like an absolute steal??? Still, this was something of a gamble! I don’t know if that’s a good painting-price, but I know for absolute sure that it represents MANY hours of my human life at a job that is definitely trying to kill me, as all jobs do! And I was just handing it to this gentle Michigander and saying ‘Go, I trust you’, although in fairness he only asked for half up front so really I said ‘Go, I t–‘. Then I waited, ’cause again, like, I dunno how long a painting takes to cook, to incubate, but soon Greg had a taste ready for me and readers: I am so glad he waited until this point, because I was floored:

A photo of the PAINTING THAT EXISTS BECAUSE OF GREG AND I AND MY WIFE'S FANATICAL LOVE OF THOSE SALTY ORANGE GARBAGE-SQUARES; it's a box of Cheddar Jack Cheez-Its on a blue cloth, a few of them scattered about its feet like feeding doves
No jokey caption! ONLY ART!

FUCKIN’ LOOKATHAT THING, MAN! Goddamn! I licked the screen just now! It was a mistake, Windex has an acrid tang!

It took what I can only presume is the usual amount of time a painting requires to be birthed, which is apparently three months or so, and TG actually took the time to add extra heatproofing–slathered some salamander blood on there, popped a coupla extra Materia into its slots, I dunno man–so it could withstand the journey across the inhospitable Arizona desert, filled as it is with dusty devils and roving Arpaios, haunting the dunes and howling.

Pictured: A juvenile Arpaio in its cuddliest stage, before its most loathsome characteristics set in at puberty, usually appearing alongside GOP funding and hypertension.

While it was in transit I was stricken, certainly through no fault of TG’s or flaw in his work but through simple human insanity, by The Doubts that naturally accompany the belated realization that you were kind of secretly hoping one purchase would fix the world? Like maybe if I have every volume of this manga everything will calm down, or maybe buying this completely frivolous but undeniably bitchin’ set of finger-chopsticks will really bring it all together for me? This is not the painting’s fault, or Greg’s, or even mine; this is merely one of the mutations caused by a social model that binds money to happiness. BUT MY FEARS WERE UNFOUNDED, because it arrived and she LOVED IT, saying, and here I quote, “Oh, this is me“, which from her is almost unthinkable praise; she once described the Grand Canyon as “a bullshit hole in the ground, doesn’t have laser-tag or karaoke or a library or anything”. She’s a complicated woman, is my point, and difficult to shop for, but thanks to Greg she now has a completely unique piece of art, the only one of its kind in the world; it is her, on a canvas.

The painting itself, as previously described, sitting on an armoire beside a Pusheen stuffy
Half of a bath towel-clad Pusheen stuffy not included

Greg was super communicative and helpful during the entire process, which is great because there’s nothing a wife loves to hear more when she asks who you’re texting than “nobody you know and I can’t tell you who it is or what we’re talking about”, but he and I actually became pals and he’s going to join my bud William and I on our dumb Percy Jackson read-through show for a special episode soon, and hopefully our standing in the popular discourse–we sometimes crack as many as forty downloads per week–will finally bring this struggling artist to the attention of the public.

@Tall_Greg_Art's Twitter bio, listing him as having 15k followers

Look at this poor lad, only 151 followers. Wait what’s this smudge on my scr–OH GOD DAMMIT

–The Bageler


Quarter in a cup for every block
And watch the buildings grow
Smaller as you go

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