Why I like Junk Stores

The Girleens are making Christmas presents this year, or rather, they’re telling me yay!  that sounds like SO MUCH fun,  and hanging out for the few minutes it takes to get whatever project we’re working on set up, and then wandering off to do something they find more engaging. 

There’s probably somebody out there on the interwebs who’d be happy to point out that I might be doing lasting damage to my daughters’ psyches by finishing up their projects without requiring huge amounts of engagement from them, but hey — we’re operating under a bit of a time crunch here. Besides, I’m the same person who three days before Halloween was up to her elbows in pumpkin innards while the kids were busy doing cartwheels in the yard so what can you expect?  
All the weighty psychological damage I might be doing my kids aside, it’s their Christmas “projects” that led me to the fabric store this morning.  
Ah, the fabric store!  We’re not even talking the arts-n-crafts, hot-glue gun, plastic-flowers store, which is the third circle of hell, despite any middle-class aspirations it might have.  This is the fabric  store, located in a  shopping center that, though it may’ve once rode the crest of late-sixties prosperity now has an “arcade level” where homeless people sleep. 
The fabric store is flanked by Diaper Depot on one side and Family Dollar on the other.  The anchoring SUPER GIANT FOOD across the parking lot is vacant, though its motto (The name says it all!) is still scrawled across the windows.  The windows of Diaper Depot are filled with sealed cardboard boxes which I guess contain diapers; the store itself is also closed.  
And if you need a pick-me-up after shopping?  Starbucks wouldn’t touch this shopping center with a ten foot pole.  Are you up for lunch instead at Piccadilly Cafeteria?  
The Fabric Store doesn’t give a shit about branding or marketing or shopping as an “experience.” It’s a throwback to those days we hardly even remember anymore, when people shopped solely because they needed a particular necessity, not because the act of shopping massaged the seratonin levels in their brains.  
It’s week two of Laid-off Life, and The Husband is diligently, and valiantly, sticking to a schedule of job-hunting, but this morning, I convinced him to take a few hours off to accompany me somewhere that Suburban Center (the shopping center’s actual name) was on the way to, and if you want to make a recently-downsized male’s head explode, take him to a Hancock Fabrics with linoleum flaking from the floors and waterstained ceiling tiles.
The fact that we ran into someone we knew there, and the three minutes I spent talking to her (learning that another dad in our social circle has been laid off, and yet another made it through a “first-round” Thanksgiving week but 70 of his co-workers did not) did absolutely nothing to mitigate how deeply distasteful The Husband found the whole experience. 
To cheer him up after we got our cotton batting, I suggested we stick our heads into the Estate-selling enterprise a few storefronts past the Fabric Store.   
Where we found this…
You can’t tell by looking, but it’s a Pictorial Map of the Literary Development of the United
 States, circa 1967, complete with the actual streets in New York City where writers lived and wrote mapped on it.  
And you know what?  Roughly half the authors on this — well, they didn’t vanish without a trace, but let’s put it this way:  read any Ruth Cross lately?
You might think this is depressing, but I actually found it uplifting to contemplate.  Kinda like staring out at the ocean or something.
Time goes by, the moon waxes and wanes. What matters now just might not matter a whole lot fifty years hence.  
Besides, check out that sixties sol-yellow and toothpaste greenish-blue.  
The future’s so bright you gotta wear shades.  

1 Comment

  1. fabric stores and junk shops! My favorites! Next try the fabric at the thrift store and it’s like the best of all possible worlds.

    And I say yes to finishing the kids projects. To leave them half finished I think leaves more lasting damage – the damage of never seeing anything to completion. They won’t remember that you did it. They’ll just remember doing it.

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