Sunday, August 14, 2016

Thoughts on Thrift Stores

In a way, thrift stores and secondhand shops are like museums of our collective failure to measure up against our own hopes and dreams; or of our failure to accurately predict what our hopes and dreams would be in the future. They collect the detritus of things we wanted, or thought we wanted, or others assumed we wanted: cheese knives and exercise equipment, ships in bottles and books on personal finance, cookbooks full of recipes ranging from faddish diets to diabetes-inducing confectionery. Tupperware sorted by color and shape, hand-painted porcelain Hummel figurines and row upon row upon row upon row of wine glasses. Aunt Mildred's fine china that we could never be bothered to wash by hand one the one night a year we would actually use it; good china that never got used at all; ugly, mismatched porcelain bowls we always hated but we were in college and poor and they worked alright so we couldn't just throw them away and buy new ones until after we graduated and could finally chuck the hideous things. Racks upon racks of t-shirts commemorating everything from the track teams of unfamiliar universities to cancer-walks. Jeans that we will never, ever fit into again no matter how hard we diet. Small forests of garish silk neckties, patterned to complement suit jackets which haven't been fashionable for twenty years. Eighty prints of the same T-shirt, donated by the local silkscreen shop due to a small-but-vital miscommunication with the client about what the shirts should actually say. Three dozen copies of a local rapper's debut album, each with liner notes hand-packed by his friends and family.