Thrift Store Story 1: Mother Daughter Bonding

I was at a Goodwill in another town, eavesdropping on strangers.

Mom: How about this one?
Daughter: Na-a-a-ah…
Mom: Well, I know it’s kind of boring, but it also looks professional. You have to look professional.
Daughter: Ye-e-eah…
Mom: Okay, so you have your black skirts… How about, instead of a jacket, you try something like this? Because it still looks professional, but
it’s not as formal as a jacket. Cute, huh?
Daughter: Kind of, yeah.

At this point, I can’t resist peeking at them. Both 30-something mom and teen daughter are tall and thin, in t-shirts and very short shorts, with long, long, very blonde hair. They’re talking loud and I can’t help but form the impression that the mom wants everyone around to hear what a good parent she’s being. I look to see what professional item of clothing the mom is holding. It’s a black vest with shiny black lining-fabric back.

Mom: See? That looks real professional. Trust me, I know these things.
Daughter: You know my friend Melissa? The other day, she found a pair of Hollister jeans here.
Mom: Really?
Daughter: Yeah. And she wore them to school!
Mom: Really? Wow.

Thrift Store Story 2: Little Girl Free to Good (or Any) Home

I’m shuffling through the sweaters at my second-favorite mega segunda. A little girl, maybe 2 or 3 years old, ambles near in a pink dress, with two filthy baby dolls cradled in one arm, and with green snot hovering above her lip.

Girl: Mami…
My heart: [Crack!]
Girl: Mami!!
Me: [approaching little girl] Are you lost? Do you know your mom’s name?
Girl: [Incomprehension.]
Me: [in Spanish] Let’s find your mom. What is your mom’s name?
Girl: [pause, then] Mami.
Me: What color is your mom’s hair? What color is your mom’s hair?
Girl: [Points to her own hair, her own dress, her baby doll’s dress.]

I lead the little girl around the store, pointing at each oblivious woman we see and asking in Spanish and English if this is her mother. The little girl shakes her head no at each one. For a while, a pre-teen girl helps us out, but then returns to her own mother’s side. I start to worry. The little girl has stopped worrying by now and seems content to follow me around like a stray cat. My boyfriend comes over.

Tad: Did you find a kid?
Me: Yes, and I’m starting to totally freak out. This one can’t even talk, and we’ve looked at, like, every single woman here, and she says none of them are her mom. What if her mom left? What if…

The little girl stands at my side, unconcerned, chewing on her hair. A little boy, about 4 or 5, walks up. His runny nose serves as family resemblance as he grabs the little girl by the arm.

Boy: There you are. Come on.
Me: Are you her brother? Do you know where y’all’s mom is?
Boy: Yeah. My mom told me to find her.

He hauls the little girl away. Curious, my boyfriend and I follow at a polite distance. The kids’ mother is younger than I expected. She stands over a shopping cart, with a companion, in the middle of an aisle. She and her companion wear tight jeans, sleeveless tops, and tattoos. The mother is talking to her companion and into a cell phone, simultaneously.

Mother: That’s what I’m saying. I told that stupid fucking bitch!
Her friend: Hell, yeah!
Mother: Fuck that stupid bitch! I’ll beat her ass down! [Looking down, noticing her children. To boy:] Now you watch her. Don’t let her run off!

Tad and I exchange looks. The little girl looks over at me and waves happily. I wave back and Tad and I resume minding our own business in another aisle. I look through racks and racks of sweaters, skirts, suits, shoes. Every time the little girl crosses our path with her family, she waves and says, “Hi!” or “Bye!”

Me: Bleh. That makes me sad. I should have just stolen her.
Tad: That’s probably why she wasn’t looking for her mom too hard. She was probably hoping her mom would leave her and she could go home with you.
Me: Maybe. I would have had to give her a bath first thing, though. And some antibiotics.
Tad: Right. But, you know… you already have the cat.

Thrift Store Story 3: I Am Rich and Famous. Dammit.

I’m at the same thrift store as the one in the story above. As usual, I’m combing through the pink sweaters, looking for one that doesn’t have holes or scuff marks or a Faded Glory tag.

Random chick passing by: Excuse me. Do you shop here often?
Me: Uh… I shop here. [Thinking she’s doing a survey or something.] Why?
Chick: Oh, um. Because… do they have tank tops here? I mean, this is my first time here, and I’m kind of looking for a tank top. But, like, none of these tops are tank tops. Do they not sell tank tops? Do you know where they are? Do they have them in a special section or something?
Me: They’re in the next aisle. See that rack of sleeveless tops, under the sign that says Sleeveless Tops?
Chick: Oh, okay. Cool. Thanks!

She walks away and joins a friend, who is over by the tank tops. I flip through the pink sweaters and try not to feel self-conscious. My boyfriend Tad walks up.

Tad: There’s nothing here.
Me: You always say that. You’re not looking hard enough.
Tad: I don’t feel like looking hard. I’m not in the mood.
Me: Whatever. Okay, listen. This chick just walked up to me and started a random conversation, and I think she knew who I was.
Tad: Someone from your work?
Me: No, I mean someone who reads my blog, or who read about me in the Chronicle or something. You know, because I just talked on my blog about thrift-store shopping, and I mentioned this store? Or because the Chronicle just did that article and they said where I lived?
Tad: Hmm. I guess.
Me: No, seriously. I’m starting to be able to tell now. Because they always start completely random conversations. Like that chick who talked to me in the bra section of Ross? Or that other chick who started talking to me about fountains at Home Depot that day? I mean, I know it sounds conceited as hell, but I really think they’re talking to me because they recognize me from the blog.
Tad: How, though? You only have that one picture of yourself on your blog, and it doesn’t even look like you.
Me: Because, like, I don’t know. I mean, how many Caucasian chicks in Houston have Asian boyfriends and three kids?
Tad: Yeah… I think you’re just being paranoid, though. I think they’re just being friendly.
Me: I’m not being paranoid. I’m not saying they’re stalking me or that it’s bad or anything. I’m just saying that I think they recognize me and, if they do, why don’t they just say so? You know? Because, otherwise, I’m wondering why I’m such a magnet for chicks starting completely random conversations.
Tad: People do that, though. They start random conversations. People do it to me all the time.
Me: Oh, okay. So you think I’m just being paranoid. Or narcissistic.
Tad: No, no, no. Of course not. Baby, if you say people recognize you, then of course they recognize you.
Me: Okay, don’t patronize me.
Tad: No, sure… Why wouldn’t they recognize you? You’re famous. You’re like, a famous writer and blogger and whatnot. You’re my famous baby.
Me: [Turning away, sighing.] I am famous, dammit. You just can’t handle the truth. You’re jealous. You can’t hang with being the boy-toy of a celebrity. I always knew it would come down to this — that my immense blogging fame and writing success would tear us apart. I didn’t want to believe that our love was so flimsy, so susceptible to petty envy. But I should have known better. That’s why they say it’s lonely at the top. It is. I see that now. This thing with my fans seeking me out at thrift stores, it’s tearing us apart. That’s the price I’m paying for my high-flying lifestyle…
Tad: What’s that, bunny? What’d you say?
Me: I said, let’s go get some gelato now.
Tad: Okay.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in eavesdropping, Houston, meta, my sex life on 11/29/2007 06:03 pm

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.