Sunday, July 26, 2009

Redemption of the Strip Club Ficus

We have been sooo sooo busy the last four weeks pulling together a coffeehouse service for Grandma Elsie's church. Between making sure we had the musicians, equipment, projector, coffee, and decorations to turn a fellowship hall into a coffeehouse, we've been running ourselves ragged. But as of yesterday morning we still needed one more fake ficus tree. Fake ficus trees are very important in fellowship-hall-turned-coffeehouse decor. You have to have something to put the twinkle lights on. We had picked up one ficus last weekend -- Dez was out shopping garage sales when one literally jumped off someone's driveway and into the path of her car (and by "literally" I mean literally). It only cost us $3 out of the "Loaves and Fishes Coffeehouse Fund" (the "LFCF") ("Loaves and Fishes" because it kept miraculously replenishing itself). Dez stood by that tree in 90 degree heat for an hour waiting for Joe to get over there with the pickup truck. (Dez also found another $3 tree at the same garage sale, but once we got it over here to our house it really looked more like a gigantic marijuana plant, so we decided not to use it.)

Some other friends of ours graciously loaned us another tree this week. But we still had need of one more tree. We had already shopped on Craigslist last weekend and seen a listing for someone who was selling silk plants on Dale Mabry somewhere, but we figured it was like one of those tents you see in a mall parking lot where they sell art and rugs and try to con you into thinking that their price is cheaper than what you get in a regular store with air conditioning, so we didn't pay much attention to the ad. We figured they would be out of our price range ($10 per tree). But by yesterday morning, the day of the actual coffeehouse, it was crunch time and Dez pulled out all the ads we had decided not to pursue the week before -- we still had $20 budgeted for trees, but since our friends had loaned us one, we could use the whole $20 for one tree. We decided to zip down to Dale Mabry to see if the guy selling trees out of a tent would make us a deal.

Dale Mabry Hwy. is a four lane highway running north and south through much of Hillsborough County and it's lined with strip malls, restaurants, and when you get near enough to the stadium, strip clubs. So we got to the block where the address should be on Dale Mabry, but couldn't find the "tent" or any sign talking about silk trees. We turned around two or three times and finally found the address, but it was a strip club -- the Alibi. We were getting ready to scrap the idea when we noticed that there was a tiny little storefront next to the strip club that was advertising itself as a thrift store.

Despite the relative creepiness of the location, we felt safe enough because Jesus, Mary, and a giant computer were watching over us.

Well, actually, we felt only safe enough to send Dez in while I stayed in the car with the kids. As she got out of the car she said, "If I'm not back in 5 minutes, call the cops." Plastic Mary, Jesus and the giant computer were not very comforting to her apparently. She came back out in a few minutes and said that the store did, in fact, have a great ficus tree and that it was $25. The only problem with my coming in to get it was the fact that the tree was surrounded by porn. I guess that's what they keep in the back room of thrift stores next door to strip clubs. The kids probably didn't need to see that, so I gave Dez the money and she went back in to get the tree. A few minutes later she came back out and told me to drive around to the back, but I'll tell you I felt a little bit shady driving into the alley behind a strip club with my kids in the car. This ficus apparently had Plastic Jesus and Plastic Mary's blessing, so I didn't really have much choice.

So after I auditioned (I didn't get the job -- apparently they like girls who don't bring their kids with them to the audition), I headed around back and got the tree. It pretty much filled up the car.

And it had kind of a funky smell. But I'm pretty sure it accepted Christ last night at our coffeehouse -- so our visit to the strip club thrift store was worth it.

The strip club ficus is the one on the right. Doesn't it look redeemed?


  1. I still laughed my head off reading this, and I was there. Great pic of the room. So pretty

  2. Love this story! Thanks for sharing!


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