THE VILLAGE OF THRIFT
In the village of “Thrift”, all residents are hoarders, unwilling to let go of any precious memories and all stores merely sell possessions to each other who simply mark up their purchases and resell them to tourists or senile residents with poor memories. When I visited the village, I had no idea what I would find there so I just walked into the first shop, on the first block, with my camera and an open mind.
That’s where I met Jesus…for $2.00. Obviously, a Jesus with his hands up in the air, wearing flowing robes from where the divine wind blew him, would cost a little more. One could own the more standard staff carrying halo hung Jesus, for the turn-the-other-cheek price of only $2.00. And if some sinful negotiation skills were applied to the cross-promotional shop keeper, plastic Jesus with a halo could be delivered and begot for $1.50.
I strolled through the other stores filled with polyester pill covered couches missing cushions, tables with water stained legs missing chairs, and chipped rimmed cups missing saucers, and found myself strangely drawn to the abundance of lamps that seem to be collected. It’s as if someone had taken the phrase, “let there be light” a little too literally, pardon my alliteration.
Most fixtures were pretty ordinary but every once in a while something rare and unusual would stand out. I stared at the monkeys hold up the glass bowl for the lamp. I wondered how the designers arrived at this particular style of Illuminati. I pondered about its origin and was sure I’d never see anything like that again. I wondered if enough time passed, whether or not these lamps would evolve eventually to a style portraying human beings holding up the translucent dish.
All around the stores one could see bird cages piled up on top of bird cages. Old cages, new cages, wire cages, wicker cages and wooden cages. I thought it odd that there were so many empty cages in these stores, in this town but before I could solve that mystery a cute doll caught my eye.
Her pretty periwinkle hat and porcelain complexion gave me joy just to look at her. I thought about getting her but passed, not being a doll collecting kind of guy. But some doll people love this stuff and collect it whenever they can. In the village of Thrift there seemed to be an abundance of dolls of every kind. Must be something about preserving the best of times when they were young, surrounded by the safety and security of lots of playful stuff.
In this village there is no divorce. Regardless of the age when people wed, they hold onto each other like the precious part of their happiness depends on never letting go. This senior couple looked young and in-love so I had to capture them. I watched and wondered if they knew how much impact they made on me and you who read this. To them, they might just be taking a walk but to us they represent a seemingly unattainable level of bliss.
My parents who just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary… when I look at them, I just wonder how they did that. The best I can figure… is that they just live one day. It’s all in that one day. It starts in the morning and ends at night and it’s lived like the first day and lived as if it could be the last day… but it’s just that one day that matters. Days turn into decades and time means nothing to them as they too still hold hands when they walk; loving each other forever in just that one day.
Lost in romantic thought I walked into the next shop. The bell at the top of the door jingled in a way that made the past present.
Wandering through time and searching for some sign that I was in the right place, I saw the message that humorously validated that I was just not at my usual 100%.
Even the homes in the village of Thrift would not be discarded, abandoned or destroyed. It’s amazing what a little window dressing can do to spruce a place up.
In the middle of the village, there was a church where the residents could pray for more stuff. Even there, they brought their tables out to sell their wares. If they didn’t have a shop, they would just put a table out and sell what that could to all who walked buy. Here too they seem to worship Jesus the great saver.
It’s amazing what you can put on a table. While some were selling their favorite rocks, nuts and flowers and others were just selling glasses.
Some stores had signs in the window, “We Sell Everything” even though they just sold books. I guess in a way books are everything.
Across the street from the “We Sell Everything” bookstore… there was a “We Sell Everything” table store. This was a very popular store because so many people in the village of Thrift needed tables to sell their stuff on. Oddly, in the window of this store, I was able to capture the reflection of a ghost doing its own ethereal shopping.
All this walking and gawking was starting to make me hungry and I could smell something in the air. Some kind of barbecue was going on so I just followed my nose. I eventually came to a sign that shouted, “Grilled Chicken Cheeseburger”! Only this sign was in the background and in the foreground there was another sign that promoted an exotic bird show. Show birds in the front… grilled birds in the rear?
I wondered if anyone else noticed that there was something wrong with this picture. Bird’nd by curiosity I entered the show…
Inside, there were birds of every shape, size and color. Some were amazingly loud while others were timidly quiet. It seems that in the village of Thrift, not only did everyone collect possessions continuously but they all owned birds! Everyone in the show knew each other and in this show… they too had opened up their tables, but here they were selling birds and everything for birds.
Bird toys, bird food, bird seeds, breeding birds, talking birds, love birds…naturally, and birds that would live so long that all the bird owners had wills giving direction who would inherit the birds after the owners passed. Ironically, the inhabitants of the village of Thrift would eventually forget everything over time but the birds never forgot a thing.
Living 75 to 100 years and beyond, these birds carry the memories more permanently than the imminent effects of dementia or nature’s eventual disintegration of old property. Folklore in the village of Thrift tells the story of the common thread between the people who live there. It’s been said that all those living in Thrift have had precious things taken from them unwillingly when they were helpless and young. This is what drives them to collect, surround and be content in the comfort of clutter.
Still starving from the thought of having a grilled chicken sandwich, I left the bird show in search of fewer feathers, less squawking and a little nutrition.
Further down the road I came upon a strange man leaning on a trash can staring at me. “Excuse me sir. I’m starved and new to this town. Could you point me the direction of the best restaurant that only the locals know about?” I asked.
He smiled and responded in a Jamaican accent in a melody not too distant from a Bob Marley song with, “Sure ting fella. Just head down da road anutta block or two, turn left at de hospital and right undah de highway you’ll come to a flower covered house. You’ll know you’re at da right place mon, because dey have special albino flowers shining at you from da front.”
So I thanked the Rasta man and set off in search off the albino flower.
Hungry and sweaty I eventually found the magnificent monochrome blossom. Perched in front of a little cottage, the flower sparkled like a cross between a sea anemone and the result of an electric shock.
I walked into the camouflaged restaurant dizzy and starved. The menu was also the strangest list of items I’d ever seen. All the dishes were named after the exclamations and remarks that the people shouted after they tasted the delights. There was the “Holy Crap” Wrap and the “Damn This Is Good” Salad. They had “Oh My Gawd”Burgers covered with smoked Gouda and their specialty, the “Kill Me Now” delish Kinish!
They called my name when my food was ready and I took the tray upstairs to eat in peace and see if the flavor of the food actually resembled the names it was given.
I ate every last drop of my “Holy Crap” Wrap licking the crunchy crumbs and swipes of buttery avocado that were painted across the empty plate. I leaned back, closed my eyes and inhaled deeply at the fragrance of hot chocolate exhaust wafting upstairs from some decadent desert they were preparing down below.
As I exhaled with my head back, I opened my eyes once again and a light fixture hanging from the ceiling came into my view. As I turned and focused, I stood up to get a closer look and saw that it was another one of those damn monkey lamps! What the hell is the story with those damn monkey lamps?
I had to know… so left the Albino Flower Cafe in search of answers…