In search of something shiny

By Mir
November 19, 2005

I am still here! Yes! Cranky and slow-moving, to be sure, but trucking right along.

There is a whole story I could tell today about how I very much hate HMOs, dislike the system of medical care in America in general, am really starting to despise my doctor’s practice in specific, and how I am confused and annoyed and tired of being jerked around, but… nevermind. God. I’m tired of complaining. (Take a look around. Consider for a moment the level my negativity has to reach before I tire of it. This is really saying something.)

So! Instead of telling you about how I had to go have my blood taken AGAIN for some more potentially useless tests, I will tell you about what I did on the way home, once I was fortified with a very large latte and a handful of Advil!

Once upon a time, there was a Goodwill store not far from here that got all of its donations from rich towns and the dry cleaners in those towns. My friends and I went there at least once a week, and during what I fondly refer to as “the Goodwill years” my children’s closets overflowed with nearly-new brand name clothing. Furthermore, I made several additions to my own wardrobe during that time. My good friends Ann Taylor and Donna Karan and Liz Claiborne and the like were coming home with me for around $4 an item; less if I managed to catch something on a half-price day.

[Digression: I know people who are either squicked out by the idea of wearing used clothing or who are simply “too good” to buy things which are used. That’s fine. More for me, I say! Hey, there are things I won’t buy used: underwear, swimsuits, and shoes come immediately to mind. But a shirt or a pair of pants I can throw in the washer? Why not. Plus, now I will tell you a great secret about thrift stores in upscale areas: Lots of times you can find items that are still brand-new with the tags on. Apparently rich people often buy lots of stuff and then give it away later before they even have a chance to wear it.]

Anyway, it was a sad, sad day when that Goodwill went out of business. There was gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. It was downright tragic. Truly, I knew my life would never be the same. That Goodwill is the reason I own a stunning Jones New York evening gown which I will probably never wear, but feel prettier just for having in the back of my closet. We had a special relationship, is what I’m trying to tell you.

Today I was on my way home from having the remainder of my blood extracted at the hospital in the next town, and I almost passed a new Salvation Army thrift store. I decided to stop in. Not that I expected to, you know, replace my former love, or anything, but I figured it was worth looking around. Plus, I was hoping to distract myself for a while. Maybe I would find something amazing!

Or maybe I’d find some jeans for Monkey. Which was pretty much what I went in there to look for.

The first thing I noticed about this store was that it… smelled. Maybe thrift stores often smell like old people, and my beloved Goodwill was an anomaly. I don’t know. But this store smelled of a mixture of moth balls and hair tonic. (I am surmising; I have no idea what hair tonic smells like, except that I remain convinced that it has something to do with the odor that permeated this store.) I decided to brave the stench because perhaps there were bargains to be had.

Back in the children’s section, I pawed through racks and racks of clothing while eavesdropping on my fellow shoppers. Most of the dialogue went like this:
“Do you like this one?”
“No! I want that bear!”
“We’re not buying toys. How about this one?”
“I hate that. I want THAT BEAR!”
“Get over here and look at this shirt.”

Gosh, it made me miss the kids. What fun is it picking out clothes without the merry chirping of little ones making your eardrums bleed?

I found some jeans for Monkey, then came across some jeans just like a pair Chickadee had loved until she outgrew them. I picked those up as well because I am a wonderful mother, or maybe because they were a dollar.

As I moved on to shirts, I got to listen to couples bicker over housewares. I started getting the feeling that this store really wasn’t much like the other one. But I soldiered on! I came across a shirt in Monkey’s size that said “Just be glad I’m not a twin.” I was toying with being horrified when I overheard the following exchange from the plus-size section:
“I just don’t like shorts.”
“I don’t wear pants, either.”
“Nope. I like skirts. I just think they’re more flattering.”

I couldn’t resist. I made a brief circuit so that I could check out the skirt woman. She was wearing a perfectly normal top and a brightly-patterned skirt which made her already ample derriere look like a buffet table with a beach blanket thrown over it. If that was more flattering, I was very glad she wasn’t wearing pants.

Against my better judgement, I moved on to women’s clothing. I didn’t find anything; there was a lot of polyester and larger sizes. Alas. However, I did get to watch a very cute college boy carry a table out to his car. I do not recall any of THOSE at the other store.

So. Nothing shiny for me today. A few things for the kids. A roundabout reminder that I still need to find an occasion to wear my evening gown. An hour of distraction.

That was about as much excitement as I could handle for today.


  1. Chag

    My children would be nearly nude if it weren’t for Goodwill. And yard sales! No sense paying much money for something they’ll outgrow waaaay too quickly. Plus, I get to save money for when they’re older and HAVE to have designer crap or they’ll HATE me forever.

    And even if you walk away empty-handed, you never leave a Goodwill store without a story to tell (whether it be some hideous item you saw or a fat woman and her flattering skirts).

  2. MzAriez

    I hope you get good news from your test results.

  3. Jenn

    Almost all the Goodwill stores I’ve ever been in have had that smell, it’s like they pump it in through the air ducts. I never find clothes that don’t look like they began life in the seventies. I need to find the rich people’s Goodwill stores.

    I can never figure out why designers make plus-sized clothes with those kinds of prints. Why don’t I just wear Christmas lights on my butt, maybe that would draw less attention!

    Here’s hoping your blood works comes back with good results and they’ll quit assaulting your veins.

  4. Jules

    I’ve never been to the Goodwill store but I’ve gotten tons of “gently used” clothes for the kids off of eBay. Like you, I just through them in the washer and voila – name brand clothes for the kids and I only paid pennies.

  5. DebR

    Every thrift store I’ve ever been in (and yes, I do go now and then) has that smell you describe. I think it’s a “special” air freshener they all use or something.

    I’m envious of people who live in areas with Goodwill stores as nice as your old favorite. Sigh.

    And the large woman skirt? I’m not exactly tiny myself and I see that sort of thing all the time! And I have wondered many times what the designers are thinking. Does anyone who wears a size 16 really NEED huge flowers or horizontal stripes across her ass?!?! I don’t think so!!!

  6. alektra

    Everytime we had a play or something like that, the costume came from Goodwill. I’ve never had a store near me that actually had clothes that fit me (Goodwill or not) except for Target. However, I don’t plan on bending to the “but all the kids have it!” mantra cos that never worked for me.

    I guess I’ll be the meanest mommy ever. ;)

  7. carolyn

    Hi Mir,
    I’m glad you were well enough to go to the Goodwill store, the prospect of finding a bargin always makes me feel better.

  8. Kari

    When I lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan my husband and I would frequent the thrift shops there. After all, most of the people who lived up there wore something once, then donated it: an endless supply of clothes, plus tax deductions! So we frequently got lucky!

    I saw a crowd shot on the cover of my high school alumni magazine. One horrifically short woman had a huge denim skirt that made her rear look wide. I was horrified when my husband said, “Oh, look! We’re on the cover!” Sure enough, the wide woman was me, and my husband was standing next to me. It was quite a wake-up call!

  9. M&Co.

    Oh we have a Saint Vincent De Paul store like that!

    I hope the blood tests work out o.k.

  10. desertdiamond

    I had a friend that when going to college worked for the garbage collection in a very very wealthy area in NY. They used to throw everything away…new clothes, toys, electronic things, you name it. He and his partner would go and collect the ‘garbage’ and then turn the corner and take everything out and put it in their car. He said his kids went into shock when he quit that job to persue his college educated career as he could no longer afford the clothes and gifts that he had ‘collected’ while working as a college student. Amazing what people throw away.

    I hope your blood work comes out ok as well. I also enjoy so much reading your posts. Thanks for all the nods of understanding and all the laughs.

  11. jiji

    Reg. No: 124/2001
    Sree Lakshmi Krupa, Cheluvaiah Garden,
    Bangalore – 16
    ACT – 1975 (KARNATAKA ACT 27 OF 1975)

    President : Bro: JIJI YOHANNAN Secretary : Bro: AJITH MATHEW Tresurer : Bro: JOJAN JOHN
    Hon. Advisor : Sr.A. EMILIYANA, Bangalore Medical Advisor : Dr. K. SANTHOSH KOSHI.M.B.B.S, MD, Blore



    Respected Sir,

    May Jesus bless you, your family, business and all of yours.
    We submit the following few lines to your kind Sympathetic Consideration and favourable help. We regret to state that we are all poor, deformed, handicapped and leprosy patients. We are unable to do any works and leading a miserable life. We are totally 35 families (Males = 39 + Females 29+ Childrns 18 = 86 persons) are living in this colony and suffering from proverty. We all are isolated by our nears and dears. We have not any sources of income to celebrate our Holy Christmas. None to help us in this world expect Jesus but a very few persons like as your goodself having kind heart and generous mind as an Oasis in the desert.
    Once in a year in this Holy Day of Christmas, We pray your goodself may kindly send us an amount or clothes as you please, as your Christmas & New Year gift which help us to have a tasteful festival feast with a good food, sweets and celebrate the same with joy as others.
    So, we humbly request your goodself may kindly send us your generous contribution either by DD/Cheque or Money Order.
    Please help the helpless poor, disabled orphanage, handicapped and leprosy patiets and lit the light in their dark life sir.
    We pray Jesus to bless your health, family health, friends and all of your heart desires. We never forget your help up to our last breath sir, we hope, we too get your love and sympathy.

    Thanking you sir,

    Yours truly in Christ

    Jiji Yohannan (President)

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest