Yesterday afternoon, my friend Parker and I caroused the city in search of various items we were hoping to attain at a thrift shop. I’ve done a fair share of thrifting in my day, and have scored some of my best purses, t-shirts, and vinyls from doing just that. This past adventure will haunt me, and I felt it necessary to share.
The Salvation Army we checked out was like Hell on earth. It was two floors chock full of hand-me-downs, seemingly innocent, but something was off. We decided to go up to the second floor to check out the various knick-knacks and furniture. Big mistake.
It’s stifling hot and smells of second-hand sweat. I’m waiting for steam to begin pouring out from the vents like we’re on the Movie Ride at MGM Studios and Sigourney Weaver is clutching an M41A Pulse Rifle in in the vestibule. People are mumbling to themselves as they delicately handle the many shelves of trinkets. I can’t be sure of what we were in search of anymore, but I feel like Sarah in search of Toby and Jareth the Goblin King. We find ourselves in a back row, filled to the ceiling with dirty Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Dolls, small children sitting on piles of stuffed animals and faded blankets. I think I see a white Persian stuffed cat that looks familiar. And I know this is the saddest thing I’ve seen in a while. (Not really…) I can’t even blink my eyes as I stare into the abyss of ransacked board games and dismembered dolls. It’s as if we are inside a giant playpen that had been struck by a tornado.
“This would make for a great scene in a zombie movie,” Parker says. Later on, I believe I mentioned to him that I felt like the undead as we crossed the street. But he assured me I still had at least an hour before I turned into an actual zombie. Good thing.
What can we learn here? Thrift stores are utterly scary, and not because everything needs to be triple washed and sanitized, or because people are thoroughly oblivious to just that, but because it’s a chaotic graveyard. It’s an unsettling resting place for clutter. Aside from the aforementioned movie references, I thoroughly recommend watching these two films back to back in order to understand the chaotic nature of Salvation Army’s upstairs hotbed:
Gummo (1997) by Harmony Korine, and The Labyrinth (1986) by Jim Henson.