July 23, 2000
Stolen Goods


Yesterday David and I took another armload of old clothes to the little thrift store and dropped them off in the donation box.

The brown suede jacket I shoplifted from the Oregon City Goodwill two years ago -- during my *I Have Five Dollars In My Pocket (And I'd Rather Spend It On Wine Than On A Used Jacket, Even If It IS Snowing)* phase -- is now history.  Returned, as it were, to the Great Cosmic Secondhand-Clothing-Exchange Process.

I just hope that the next person who wears it out of the store without paying the five bucks redeems herself more quickly than *I* did.

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In recent weeks, taking our old clothes to the thrift store has become as much of a Saturday ritual for us as "sleeping in" until 6:30 a.m., fried eggs and coffee for breakfast and Indian pop videos on Channel 42. All week long we sort through our laundry baskets and our tiny shared closet ... pick out the stuff that no longer fits/no longer looks good on either one of us/no longer has any hope of fitting ever again, any time in the 21st Century ... and we drive across the island to the Alameda Goodwill to dump everything off.

This has far less to do with any altruistic vision of helping the less-fortunate, and far more to do with raw closet space. When you live in four hundred square feet of squeezed preconnubial bliss, closet space isn't just something you talk about. It's something you struggle to achieve, day in and day out. (And when The Other 50% isn't looking, you sneak another couple inches of closet *real estate* from their side.)

Sometimes we browse around the store for a few minutes, after we've dropped off our weekly donation ... David looking at moldy paperbacks and scratched vinyl records, me flipping through racks of tired blazers and baggy T-shirts. Once in a while I buy a blouse, or an old cardigan sweater to kick around the apartment in, or a dress ... if they have anything in my size. (Size 14's tend to hang onto their clothes much more tenaciously than Size 2's, apparently.) Yesterday I almost bought a black and white checked skirt, but the zipper looked a little iffy so I put it back on the rack.

The truth is that thrift stores no longer hold the appeal they once did. I used to love them. Now everything in the store smells vaguely like cat pee to me.

Nor are thrift stores as critical to my working wardrobe as they were when I was living alone in Oregon and I needed every available penny to pay for rent, big boxes of Mountain Chablis, and over-the-counter diarrhea remedies. (Not necessarily in that order.) I would have been forced to go to The Knife Factory in my bathrobe every day, if it weren't for the Gladstone Value Village.

(If I had a bathrobe, I mean.)

Now that I can actually afford to buy *new* once in a while, though, I'm not nearly as interested in wearing other women's cast-off sweatpants, failed fashion experiments and unwanted Christmas sweaters.

(Unless they're from my mom, of course. Or unless they're from the TicTac Value Village, which feels -- and smells -- more like a department store than a secondhand store, and where you can usually find a $180.00 Danny & Nicole skirt suit for $30, or an entire bagful of Sag Harbor pullovers AND a funky Dogs In Space T-shirt for under twenty bucks, and still have enough money left over to browse through the paperbacks and the eight-tracks and the Dukes of Hazzard lunchboxes. I have yet to find a comparably groovy secondhand store anywhere in the Bay Area.)

This new aversion to thrift store shopping isn't me turning into a snob, I don't think. I don't look down on secondhand stores, and I certainly don't look down on the people who shop in them. Rather, this is me celebrating the fruits of sobriety in yet another unexpected and pleasing way.

Not drinking $160 worth of Mountain Chablis every month = an extra $160 I can spend on other stuff every month.

Like clothes, once in a while.

In fact ... if we go back to the Alameda Goodwill next Saturday, and I happen to see *my* suede jacket hanging on the Women's Outer-Wear rack, in the very back part of the store ...

... maybe I'll plunk down the ten bucks and buy the damn thing. Just to repay a little more of that "karmic debt" I'm always yammering on and on about.

As long as it doesn't already smell like cat pee.

two years ago

throw a rock