Ch 6. Shopping
By the time Volodomir and Jesus Josephovich finished their fascinating lunch of hamburgers and fries, the businessman had already made arrangements for Jesus to stay at his home. Now he was busy calling and text messaging numerous people on his phone. Volodomir was so excited that he was behaving like a child who had just received a new toy.
“I’m so sorry, I must go,” he said morosely. “I have a meeting and I can’t postpone it. But my daughter will meet you here. She will take care of you until I finish my work. What is your mobile number?”
Jesus Josephovich looked at Volodomir as if he had not asked a question but made a suggestion. Then he realized that he was supposed to know what a ‘mobile’ was. Volodomir noticed his confusion and held up his phone.
“Oh,” Jesus Josephovich understood. “I don’t have one.”
“Okay,” said Volodomir, realizing how different the man before him really was. “Just wait here by the entrance and my daughter will meet you in a few minutes.”
“Alright. Thank you.”
“No. Thank you,” said Volodomir. They shook hands and the businessman walked out of the restaurant. “I’ll see you tonight at my house for some real Ukrainian food,” he said as he ran out.
Jesus Josephovich stood by the door for several minutes watching various kinds of people running back and forth, in and out. There were young business people in new suits and polished shoes, old men and women slowly hobbling along with the help of a cane, and teenagers in groups of three or four wearing all black and displaying numerous piercings while blasting music on their headphones so loudly you could hear it from across the room. Jesus tried to smile at all of these people, but only the devilishly dressed teenagers smiled back.
Eventually a pretty young girl dressed in a fashionable fur-lined jacket and wearing heels that were far too high to be comfortable entered the restaurant and walked up to Jesus Josephovich. She inspected his clothes and tried to stifle her laughter.
“Are you Jesus Josephovich?” she asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yes,” he said readily. “You must be Volodomir’s daughter.”
She nodded her head briskly. “I’m Katya.”
Jesus Josephovich nodded and Katya started to laugh. She covered her mouth from embarrassment.
“Are you okay?” Jesus Josephovich asked.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” she claimed, uncovering her smile. “It’s just that, when my father told me I would be meeting someone named Jesus, I didn’t know it would really be ‘Jesus’.” She looked at his old fashioned sandals and nearly burst out laughing again. Clearly she thought this was some kind of a joke or a theatrical performance.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Jesus Josephovich said timidly. He looked around at the people in the restaurant. “I’m not used to the fashions in your country.”
“That’s okay,” she said giggling. “I’ll take care of you. The first thing we’re going to do is get you some normal clothes. You can’t walk around like that in winter.”
“Great.” Jesus Josephovich glanced around the room and pointed to the goth teenagers. “Some clothes like theirs?” he wondered.
“Oh no,” Katya exclaimed. “We want you to look normal. Not even stranger.”
They exited the restaurant and Katya hailed a car for them. They jumped in and rode to the center of the city. They exited the car onto a busy street lined with expensive looking shops and restaurants.
“Welcome to your street,” Katya announced. “Welcome to Khreschatik.”
“Khreschatik?” Jesus Josephovich wondered.
“You know, it means ‘Cross’. Like the ‘Cross of Christ’. This street was named after you,” she teased.
“Ah,” he said, a bit confused as he looked around the street and saw billboards with half-naked models, lingerie and swimwear boutiques, expensive cars, and conceited, overly dressed pedestrians. “Why was this street named after the Cross of Christ?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “It’s an old street.”
They headed into an elegant Italian clothing store, which was filled with racks of black and brown coats that all looked the same. Katya ran over to the nearest rack and grabbed a coat off the hanger.
“Feel that material,” she said, running her fingers along the inside of the coat.
“It’s nice,” Jesus Josephovich acknowledged.
She held the coat up to him. “This coat says, ‘I am confident and powerful’.”
“It does?” Jesus Josephovich replied, a bit confused. He searched the coat for the words “confident” and “powerful”. “In what language?”
Katya laughed. “Not literally. I mean, that’s what other people will think when they see you in this coat.”
“You like clothes, don’t you?” he said.
Katya grasped the coat tightly and held it up to her chest. “Clothes allow you to express yourself. They let you show people who you really are.”
“That’s a lot to ask of from clothes,” Jesus Josephovich replied. “I’ve always just worn clothes so that I wouldn’t be naked, or cold.”
“You are so behind the times, Jesus Josephovich.” Katya shook her head disapprovingly. “If you don’t dress right, people won’t respect you.”
“You know how I show people who I really am?” Jesus Josephovich took the coat and put it back on the rack. “I love them. I take care of them. I help them find strength in themselves and in God so that they can love themselves, love others, and love God.”
“But you can look good doing it,” Katya said taking the coat back off the hanger.
“Do you think people will be more impressed by what is on the outside of you, rather than what is on the inside of you? Yes, beauty is something that we desire, but it is not what we admire.”
“True,” she answered, thinking about her argument. “But if you are good on the inside, why not show it on the outside?”
Jesus Josephovich smiled. “You don’t need new clothes for that. Just a smile.”
Katya was suddenly transfixed by Jesus Josephovich’s smile and saw goodness and peace radiating from his humble expression. “I know you’re right,” she confessed. “But I still think we should get the coat.”
“Why?” Jesus Josephovich asked, his defense against the coat weakening.
“Because it’s cold. And because I’ve got my daddy’s credit card.”