September 6, 2011 by rebelwithalabelmaker
In my family of origin, thriftiness was prized over all else. We tell the story of one holiday season when my oldest sister threw open the door after shopping with dad, fairly bursting at the seams with pride, and declared "I got your Christmas present today, Mom, and it's the cheapest thing in town!"
Our greatest family holiday, after Christmas, was Garage Sale Day. Our entire neighbourhood would synchronize their garage sales each year for the second Saturday in May. We kids would spend the entire weekend running from sale to sale for as far as the eye could see, buying treasure. It is absolute gospel in our family: Never buy new what you can find used.
When Gary and I first fell in love, we found that we came from somewhat different perspectives.
"Some things," Gary would insist, "are worth buying new." I would scorn his pampered sensibilities. In general, I thumbed my nose at all things expensive. I didn't appreciate his art collection ("Did you know that there's a poster sale every year at the University? We could replace some of this hand painted stuff with real printed stuff if you want"), I completely misunderstood his wine collection ("Someone is ripping you off. My mom pays thirteen dollars a bottle for this same stuff."), and I refered to the Mercedes as the "crappy car" (Because it was in the shop ever week. Every week. You know what is never in the shop? My bike.).
One of the things he hired me to do as the nanny was clear the house of clutter. The other thing he hired me to do, of course, was hang out with the kids–which invovled taking them to garage sale day so that they could bring home more clutter. A grand cycle of life, really.
So, one garage sale day, I was suprised to stop by a sale filled with stuff that I'd sorted out of Gary's basement and had someone haul away. (I always had to hire out the hauling. The crappy car was not built for that sort of thing. Also, I was not allowed to drive the crappy car, which was kind of unfair because it was because of me he even owned the crappy car. If not for my help, he would still be driving the old Nissan. Also, there would still be a tree on the front lawn of the corner lot by the school).
Anyways, here was the very stuff that had been hauled away–for sale. I was thrilled at this–and to be fair to the guy, he had asked me first. I had told him to re-use whatever he could. And, to be fair to me, I had forgotten that the "junk" included several boxes of expired medical supplies that hadn't made it to India in time.
"Most of the stuff is selling pretty well," the guy told me proudly, as my boys began gathering toys to buy from the piles. "Them silver clips have generated lots of interest, but I've only sold a few. Dunno what they're for. My wife says she knows, but she won't tell me. Women, eh?"
At the back of the yard sale, glinting in the sun, was a cardboard box filled to the brim with row upon row of glistenning steel vaginal speculums.
Yeah, I didn't tell him what they were for either. I got out of there really fast.
It was only a few days later that his words sunk in. I've only sold a few?
I was proud of my thrifty personality. But, hypothetically, if for some reason I felt I needed to own my own personal speculum, I have to tell you I would not have settled for the garage sale version. I had found fault with my families gospel of thriftiness. Some things, I now felt, were worth buying brand new.
Oh, the slow conversion had begun. It was only a matter of time before I became an art buying, wine drinking, crappy car driving member of the dark side.
Slippery slope, yada yada, and that's how I came to own the world's most expensive bike and all those Apple products. Not my fault. Blame speculum guy.