Friday, June 20, 2008

Comrades, what could be more fun than to check your false eyelashes (and false consciousness) in the mirror of your communist compact? To stare into your own eyes and ask what you've done for the revolution today?

I've long had a yen for a novelty compact. A real show stopper. I've been collecting these images for a while, so forgive me if most have sold already. The bejeweled seahorse fetched a pretty penny, but the leather guitar sold for a whopping $270, and with a broken mirror no less. The 8 ball is an unusal piece, but sold for a comparatively reasonable price. While the hand was more economical. The cookie is doubtless the most whimsical, and the one I probably would have chosen, had it been all I hoped. But alas it is not a proper compact with a mirror, but rather merely a container for lip gloss. The rotary dial phone compact is a spendy one (and long gone).

I've got a beautiful, though rather plain, 50s compact which I don't carry for the simple reason that it is too heavy. If I were to tumble into the East River with it in my pocket, I'd drown for sure. Though should my life turn into an Agatha Christie novel, I could use it to brain someone. ("The countess tried to bludgeon me to death with her gold cigarette case, Monsieur Poirot, I was forced to fend her off with my powder box.")

This blog began as an attempt to curb my compulsive shopping. Full Disclosure: I own about 90 vintage dresses. (This includes the Polyester Museum of Fine Art, my collection of polyester dresses with photo-prints of Japanese screens, Indian miniatures, 19th century etchings and old masters. It does not include evening wear. Or costumes. Or separates: like novelty circle skirts or garishly bejeweled sweaters. Then there are the 200 or so scarves. I could go on.) Admittedly, many of these frocks cost as little as two dollars, so my vice has not bankrupted me. But I am not unaware that this is entirely too much. And I have run out of space in my tiny apartment. I can't fit another freaking thing in there.

I know it sounds counter-intuitive to regularly comb ebay for novelty delights and collect pictures of them, kind of like a recovered alcoholic hanging out in bars, but stay with me. Posting photos and writing about them can often satiate my somewhat outsized need. And it is almost as exciting. When I find a really thrilling print, my heart leaps. It's like falling in love. When I found a 1960's blouse printed with enormous anthropomorhized blue chess pieces, my heart rate went up, my hands shook and I broke out in a sweat. I blushed, I stammered. I negotiated the sale through the crack of the door since the shop was closing. Okay, maybe that sounds more like heroin addiction than love to you, but it works for me. I get almost as much of a bang out of knowing these things exist and looking at pictures of them. Truly. I'm not just shining it on for you. And it's certainly better to share them with others than to hoard them.

Though one could argue with hundreds of novelty print items at my disposal daily, I could get high on my own supply for a year or two. I've tried.

Why am I like this?

I could take the socio-economic tack and write about the overwhelming commercialization of modern life, but you already know about all that.

I could take the Freudian route and tell you that my father is a compulsive gambler and my mother is a compulsive thrift shopper. Not many 8 year olds could read the racing form or explain to you that her vintage 1950's brownie's uniform was only a buck at the local charity shop, but there I was.

The thrill of your horse coming out from behind and taking the lead, or of finding the only cashmere sweater at a Goodwill (and it fits perfectly), these, I learned, were life's greatest delights. Since I tend to lose big time at the track, I focused on the latter.



Blogger tea said...

Fabulous, fabulous post. I, too, have my niche addictions and they absolutely send the blood rushing.

10:20 AM  

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