Friday, October 28, 2005

One Man's Trash

I have been browsing thrift stores for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I come home with real finds - like an original watercolor I paid next to nothing for, and researched to find is worth nearly $500. Winner. Other times I come home with things that, two days later, I can't remember for the life of me why I found them attractive, like an original oil painting I bought of ships, with a spinach green frame which makes me queasy to stare at.

What I always enjoy doing at a thrift store, however, is being haughty and judgmental about the items for sale. Items which used to be owned by people and so, theoretically, actually cost real money at one point. I can understand why all the items I see were given away. What I can't understand is why certain pieces were purchased in the first place.

A recent thrift store trip yielded examples. WHY would someone buy:

1. A large, framed painting of the Titanic. With the words: Titanic, On Her Maiden Voyage emblazoned beneath. Why would anyone want to hang a picture of a doomed ship? What values could this painting possibly represent? You can't hang it in a home - what would you say? "Here's Jimmy's first grade picture. And oh yes - here's a snapshot of several thousand people about to die. Tea?" Neither could the painting blend in with the Successories line of posters in an office. I don't even want to think about the corporate motivation which might stem from hanging that one.

2. Anything painted on velvet. I understand that the seventies occurred, but I don't understand why anyone thought a painting of anything on black velvet was a good idea. Yesterday I saw a painting of a clown on black velvet. I wasn't sure what the artist was trying to convey. It was like watching Ronald McDonald posing for an adult movie. Not good.

3. Family Reunion Tee Shirts. Okay, I can understand why someone would buy one. I do not, however, get why anyone would expect a complete stranger to think wearing the "Brown Family Reunion 1996" tee shirt and matching hat was a good idea.

4. Vinyl clothing. Shouldn't S&M shops start opening their own consignment gigs?

5. A one legged jack-in-the-box, minus the box, hanging from a swing. Again, I'm concerned. This was not a jack-in-the-box missing a leg; he never had one. He had one carved leg and was suspended between two wires, and if you touched him, he swung in between the two wires. Kicking that one leg out. Definitely not appropriate for children. I mean, really: a swinging, one-legged, boxless Jack? Did anyone else watch HBO's Carnivale?

I could go on. On most home organization how-to shows, they encourage people to purge their houses into three piles: keep, donate, and trash. Clearly, people are getting 'donate' and 'trash' completely confused. I need to add another entry to my dream job list: being the person to approve or deny donations. I can see it now... a little clipboard, a badge, an attitude and an eagle eye:

"You! With the Empire State Building Lamp - don't even think about it."

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