October 26, 2018

Thrift Shop Blues

In the thrift shop on a dark and deep October night...seeing if I want some things that other people don’t want anymore...faded t-shirts, the aisle of misfit toys, knickknacks, souvenirs no longer treasured, old paperback books starring Thomas Wolfe and an eclectic cast of characters, scratched furniture, stuffed animals once played with and beloved by no longer young children, unwanted birthday or Christmas presents...a soundtrack of the 1960’s playing on the store p.a…’Two Faces Have I’, Easier Said Than Done’, ‘The Last Time’ and others...and there’s the bins of old 33 1/3 records, dusty, dog eared covers with faded pictures of people with old hairstyles and old wardrobes...some of the records as shiny as the sun...maybe not even ever played...some of them well-known, others obscure even to the keepers of obscurity...where did they come from? who owned them? where are they going?...some of them ready to collect social security and carrying AARP cards...they must have been played long ago under a summer sky exploding with stars and hopes for the future...or in a living room with people dancing and dreaming of who knows of what kinds of things...college, first jobs, first loves...sweet sixteen parties, girls with curls and crushes, downstairs in dad finished basements, balloons hanging, punch ready to be drunk, presents to be opened...turn down the music kids...talking, laughing, whispering, gossiping...sweet sixteen is a hell of a lot older now, if she’s even around anymore...maybe some of these records played in a fancy ballroom...just before the Big One, WW2...Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey...the last dances of high school, long last looks, goodbyes to books...the somber resignation of knowing a loved one was going off to war, a war of bullets, machine guns, explosions, mines, bombs to drop from inside the nose of a B-17, kamikazes heading for ships, beaches and hills to take, lines to cross, orders to obey...not knowing if they’ll come back, or come back as the same person or as an empty or changed shell of that person they once knew...I wonder what stories these records could tell...funny ones about crazy uncles and lush aunts who always drank too much, sad ones about those no longer here who used to play them, dramatic ones, ones with stories that have no ending because the ending is unknown...did some records play at wedding anniversaries, a first or a twenty-fifth, maybe a fiftieth, on the latest hi-fi record players bought at Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward...Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass records once played in the living room on the fancy new stereo console in the living room with red shag carpeting while Mom & Dad socialized with the neighbors and drank down highballs and scotch and sodas...now they are obsolete, obsolete with the parade of technology that passed by their windows...that has made them horse and buggies in an authbahn world...I look at them, I try to think about what they would be saying through their cracks and scratches and pops and skips...I look at them and try to understand and they look back at me with sadness...taken care of for years, now crying at no longer being wanted, or at the people who once owned them now gone...dead, grandparents dead, mothers and fathers dead, passed down to children or grandchildren who threw them in a box and sent them off to the old records home.