Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rest In (a vintage) Piece

Ok, Merrie, when I was 10, there was three things I lived for. That every soon-to-be-homosexual boy in the mid-seventies lived for. (Besides candy.) Wacky Packages, Planet of the Apes tv show and Batgirl. Re-runs of Batman came on everyday after school. I would run home whispering under my breath. "Please be a Batgirl one. Please be a Batgirl one." The show's opening music would start out with the trumpet flourish (PLEASE!!) a few dunna dunna dunna dunnas, (I'VE BEEN GOOD!!) and then one: BAAM! (OHPLEASEOHPLEASEOHPLEASE) for Batman's punch at a bad guy, two: BOOH! (MMMMMMMMBATGIRLMMMMMMMM) for Robin's kick, and three: BEEEM! (AAAAAAAAAAAYYEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!) for Batgirl's swinging-in-on-a-rope kick. (Or another punch for Batman if, sadly, Batgirl wasn't on.)
Now don't get me wrong, it was also a good show if Eartha's or Julie's Catwoman (not Lee's, she was too nice) was on, I'm not stupid. So I think it was the girl in Batgirl I liked. I was a boy, and I related to girls. And Batgirl's life just seemed more realistic to me, I guess. When she was pissed off and wanted to do some ass-kickin', she didn't need a mansion with a huge batcave and Batmobile and all that other crap, all she needed was the wall in her bedroom to turn around and reveal her disguise and a motorcycle to get there. "That I could do! I'm gonna do that when I'm older! I'm gonna have a secret identity with wigs and tight outfits and a motorcycle!"
Hmm. Guess I got my wish, sorta. A bicycle, instead of a motorcycle. And you all know I wear wigs. (Wigs in the name of art, not ass-whoopin' or crime-fightin'.)
Oh my God, how could I forget Treasure Hunt! Remember that game show? There was one contestant, and 50 boxes wrapped like presents. They had one chance to pick a box with something good in it. There was something in each box, like a car or a trip or a check, but there were also duds. I can't remember what the duds were, just not good. Like an apple or a turd or something. It was like watching someone's birthday party. I hoped my parents would take the clue from my excitement for the show, and put something in my box that would make me scream and shit my pants like the big winners did. "Buy my happiness!!" Back then all it took was a pair of bell-bottom pants, FYI.
Back to the point, thrift-shopping became my new "I hope it's a Batgirl one".
I was inspired to write this post because I recently found out my favorite thrift store from the 80's closed. It was The Village Thrift on Halsted and Diversey.
Back then me and my friends didn't have a lot of money, so thrifting was perfect because it gave us so much for so little. We met new friends, bonded, found new looks, found a lot of crazy clothes, laughed our asses off, and came home with some great stuff we couldn't wait to show off at Berlin or Medusa's or Smartbar.
In the 80's, if I cared about you, or wanted to impress you, I took you to Village Thrift. In '85 I worked across the street, and went EVERY day at my lunch break. Eating my usual lunch of a giant Snicker's, or giant Oreo, I would think to myself, "Ok, I need a new brooch, black pants from the 60's, a cheap rosary, cool wig, or a vintage old man's dress shirt. Preferably french cuffs. Please, come on, just this once, let me find something good!" I was giddy with anticipation on the walk over. Oh, and heaven help me if the store looked full of new crap. "AAAA! I only have 15 minutes! I need more time!"
On the weekends my roommate Jody and Scott and I would go together. We would always find something black patent leather for Jody: cha-cha heels or long, skinny purses we called "dildo purses", plaid pants and blazers from the 60's for Scott, and I usually always scored something from my wish list. The store grouped their clothes by color, so it was always a race to the black section. "HURRY! RUN! I see people over there!!" Unfortunately, it was usually the leanest section.
The Indian women who worked there were always super-nice to us, and I knew them all by name, though they usually called me miss: "Helloo! Miss Brian!" (you can only correct someone so many times). But cross them or get caught stealing, and you were banned for life. Our friend John was banned. He said it was worth it because he got an amazing leather coat, but I couldn't imagine a worse fate. They never forgave and forgot.
Sometimes I would run into a friend and comment on their particularly great bag, or super-cool coat, and their response was always "Oh thanks, I got it at Village Thift! For one dollar! Can you believe it ?!"
The next day I would run over there a scour the entire store, and not find anything as remotely cool. "Why, why, whynot!!?? I want some cool!!"
I did go to other thrift stores in the city, but the closing of this one really saddened me, because I knew it so intimately. As the years went on, and I would pop in, so many memories would come back. I still have a lot of things I bought from there.( Mainly brooches) Nothing of any real monetary value, but so many countless moments I will always treasure.


David said...

I can't believe you didn't f*ck the Indian lady at the thrift store!

David said...

Seriously, I too LOVED Treasure Hunt. Mainly because it looked like they took a bus to the poorest neighborhoods in town much like the Southern Baptists do and found the loudest tackiest women they could find and loaded them in. They were just excited to be on television. The wigs and the outfits were pricesless.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, David, I can't stop laughing!

And yes, thank you BC. I was jonesin'.


Clothing Specialist said...
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