Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Place For My Stuff and Stuff For All My Places

My wife and I took a long weekend to get away from our stuff for a while. We were going to drive to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but what with the price of gas and all the trouble in Darfur, we decided to stick to Southern Ohio.
We spent our time on two quests. The first was to stuff ourselves by discovering some diners, drive-ins and dives, featuring comfort (fatty) foods. The best of these were Beaugard’s Southern BBQ in Wilmington, Ohio and Joe’s U.S. Route 40 Grille in Springfield, Ohio, where we asked what kind of food they had and the waitress said, "Everything". (It is true - the website is woefully deficient in showing what they offer). The worst was the Oasis CafĂ© in Xenia, Ohio, where the waitress hid her mouth with her pad as she listed the salads and soups. This should have been a clue.
The second mission was to acquire more stuff. This was done initially by going to Columbus and buying some Ohio State paraphernalia to brand us as Ohio State parents, as much as this goes against my SoCal DNA. Second, we did what I have to describe as “antiquing”, because that is a short, descriptive term, so it’s convenient, even if not accurately descriptive of what we did. We went to a giant antique mall to shop, though we are not buyers of antiques in the common use of the term: old furniture or valuable works of art. We were in the market for collectibles; old knick-knacks and worthless, nostalgic possessions.
The term “collectibles” was coined by the antique mall industry because it conjures the image of “valuables” while drawing in buyers with lesser means. But collectibles are merely things that can be collected, like dust or grass clippings. “Collectibles” is a half-step up from “recyclables”, which is just trash with a reprieve.
My wife and I already have several collections that we were seeking to add to. For reasons too mushy to elaborate on, we have a collection of bunnies, or, more accurately, representations of bunnies. We have fabric bunnies and wooden bunnies and plastic bunnies and pictures of bunnies on plates and cups and bowls. If the bunnies are named Peter or Wiggly, the representations are more valuable expensive.
We have bottles that once contained milk from dairies we’ve never heard of. But they have amusing slogans or, perhaps, pictures of bunnies. We have collections too numerous to list, which all started at some antique store or another. We have a collection of little notebooks in which we could catalog the collectibles and where we collected them. But we haevn’t.
We also have collections that weren’t spawned in antique malls. I have my old Sports Illustrated magazines in the basement, between the comics and the Playboys. I collected each of those at different phases in my life, with some overlapping.
A collection is anything you have more than two of, just as it takes at least three cats to make a crazy lady. And once you have a collection of item X, according to my wife, you have to buy more. You can easily do that on eBay and save gas, but then you would miss a world of opportunity. In 1968, I saw Don Drysdale break the record for consecutive shutout games. Walking down a random aisle in the antique mall, I spotted a Sports Illustrated that had Drysdale’s picture on it, with a row of 9 zeroes above his head. I had gone 40 years without realizing that I wanted and needed that magazine. I never would have stumbled on it while cruising eBay. Furthermore, I may have that issue in my basement - Don Drysdale, somewhere between Donald Duck and a pair of double D’s - but I would never have thought to look for it. It was much easier to pay $4 for it in a store than try to dig it out of a box.
We also bought an old bottle, that had once contained chocolate milk, because it had a cute picture of a cow on it. How would we have known to look for that on eBay? We collected some nice memories, but not much stuff. In regards to stuff, it was not a very successful trip, considering the cost of gas to get around. However, we did eat all our vegetables at every meal, which, someone's mother would have assured me, benefited the starving children of Africa.

antiquing trip = piquant, tiring

Hey, try something for me: click over here once or twice


Ancient Clown said...


Cool site. I have a question for you that Edward Abbey phrased best when he asked; "Why is it that the destruction of something created by humans is called vandelism, yet the descruction of something created by GOD is called development?"
Come by for a visit.
your humble servant,
ancient clown

Bill Brohaugh said...

Our family collects pig memorabilia. It all started small, as we became immersed in the Memphis in May barbecue competition circuit as judges some years back. That circuit cooks pork, so competitions would tend to hand out little pig items (the propane lighter with a little flaming snout was one of my early favorites--good for setting bbq bricquets and houses afire. Then we'd buy a cute piggy shotglass for a bbq team we knew, and bought a second one for ourselves, and then . . . Animal Farm, with Napoleon's comrades ruling our home. Plates and trophies and Cincinnati ("Porkopolis") memorabilia (like Flying Pig Marathon wine and miniatures from the days of the Big Pig Gig) and the obligatory coin banks and flashlights with snout holes glaring LED light and no lions and no bears and all pigs, oh my. But the best collectible of all relates to the first point you make in this post--a freezer full of pig, given to us to take home from some of the best competition barbecue teams out there (I'm not kidding; we have leftovers from the past four grand champions of the Memphis in May circuit down in that freezer). But those pigs will lose their collectible status soon enough as we apply heat and convert them back to edible status. . . .