Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On thrifting

The haunted wedding dress.
Once in a while I'll check out eBay to lust over danish teak furniture, kitschy avocado green fondue pots and other mid-century modern wares. Last night I had the brilliant idea of trying to find the ugliest framed needlepoint owl I could from the 1960s to hang somewhere in my new house (all we're waiting on is final loan approval!). But there was not one needlepoint owl to be found on eBay.

So today I decided to try my hand at "thrifting" -- specifically for an ugly framed 1960s needlepoint owl or other fowl, but also any other delightfully tacky items I could find. In my neck of the woods, there's a large thrift store that contracts with a major hospital here to accept donations from patients. This thrift store sells these estate-sale-esque items and gives the proceeds back to the hospital. As far as I know, this translates to: A giant store full of dead people's things. Creepy.

I went to said store anyway looking for fun, retro items, but right when I stepped inside I knew I'd made a mistake. Instead of kitsch, there were a lot of sad wares likely once owned by old people. Things like horribly outdated teacups sitting tired in their equally outdated saucers. Once-clear glass figurines of things like little girls, sheep and acorns now tinted to a pale yellow with age. I passed a wall covered in old shoes that were never cool even in the decades they were from. "One dollar a pair," a sign read above the shelves. 

Though I wasn't there for clothing, I passed the "vintage" section and hesitated before pushing a couple hangers apart out of curiosity. Someone's wedding dress "from the 1950s," the tag read, hung in front of me. It was a beautiful dress, the style very in mode for that time period but now passe unless used for some kind of period party or photo shoot. It was the type of dress Elizabeth Taylor wore in Father of the Bride. The price? Fifteen dollars. For some reason the whole thing just made me really sad, that a long, long time ago, some woman's whole dreams probably culminated in wearing this exquisite white brocade dress that's now sitting in a smelly thrift store unable to sell for even $15. The woman who once owned it, I'm sure, had passed away already at the hospital. 

After that it was too hard to shop any longer in the store. Mostly because it just felt so wrong to be pilfering through dead peoples' things. Like all those things were haunted or something. Plus, anything I bought would remind me of that Godforsaken wedding dress I saw the same day. And yeah, I know, all antiques once belonged to people who are probably dead, but in times like this ignorance is bliss. Mama doesn't like dead people, and she especially doesn't like potentially haunted goods wreaking havoc in her house.

So I think today was the beginning and end of my thrifting journey. Ebay may need to suffice.

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