When it comes to shopping, I am a bargain shopper. I look for the best deals anywhere I can. And also, despite my OCD behavior (that includes but is not limited to: total disgust if someone sips from my drink or touches my food in any situation other than preparation, panic when someone threatens to use my chapstick) I like used clothes. Especially Levis. It keeps me from having to break them in. I also have loaded my closet with St. Louis Cardinals attire at Goodwill prices to the point that I could wear Cards gear every day for a month without having to do laundry. Before the thought even creeps into your little peabrain though, NO, I DO NOT BUY USED UNDERWEAR. I do however, find other uses for the underwear while I’m in the store.
Earlier this year, Goodwill opened a “by the pound” store in the city. It is exactly as it sounds. They sell stuff by the pound. This is my dream store. The store is in a refurbished downtown warehouse and is basically just one huge open space with bin upon bin of used goods. The giant blue bins are about a foot deep and are on wheels. Each day the bins are full to the brim with everything you could think of: glasses, dishes, shoes, toys, books, cds, movies, tons of clothes and recently, Christmas junk. As the bins begin to thin out, little Goodwill worker bees wheel them off, two at a time, like animals to the ark, leaving a gaping hole on the sales floor. Then, within five minutes or so, as a pretty healthy crowd of customers has gathered waiting for new bins to come out, the worker bee comes back, dragging with him two NEW bins chock full of more merchandise. As the bins reach their new home, the crowds swarm it, like cockroaches on a crumb at midnight. This area of the store looks a lot like Wal-Mart on Black Friday.
Romy and I have a system for our shopping adventures. We get one cart and then go from bin to bin digging through like pirates searching for the golden booty. After our first time shopping there, we now wear latex gloves to do the dig. We roam around the bins, digging and rooting and rooting and digging and finding bargains:
You want this parrot made out of tiny metallic beads? Yes!
Hey, did you want this bag of cookie cutters? Yes!
I found this statue of an old man and old woman on a double seated toilet holding hands. You want it for your bathroom? Yes!
Just recently we have gotten brave enough to get in the swarm as a new bin comes out. But we are still newbies and we don’t last long. Soon we have backed out of the crowd. But not before snagging a Hallmark plate and a bag of embroidery floss.
When we feel like we have exhausted every bin, we take our loot over to the side of the store and begin to sort. This is where we get serious. This is the point where we decide whether or not to keep the things we have thrown in the cart or to put them back in the bins.
Do I really need this Christmas tree made out of gold painted pasta? No.
Will I use this egg poacher? No.
Don’t I already have a sequined reindeer sweater? No. But I don’t need one.
The first time we went, as I was digging through a bin, I found a pair of underwear. I didn’t even think about it. I just threw them at Romy. They landed on her arm.
And tradition was born.
Today, Romy brought her entire family. Her kids had gone with us before but her husband, Duke, was new to this experience. And what better way to introduce him to the store than to throw a pair of underwear at him? So as we were standing between bins, a pair of tighty whities caught my eye. Again, I didn’t even think. I just grabbed the underpants and flung them at Duke. My aim was off and they landed on the cart.
Except that my aim wasn’t off. As if in slow motion, we all saw the underpants land unceremoniously on the cart. And at the same time we all saw the condition of the garment. Soiled. But it was Romy who spoke,
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU THREW UNDERWEAR WITH SKIDMARKS AT MY HUSBAND!” she said at the decibel level of an oncoming fire truck.
I would be lying if I told you that people didn’t stop and stare at these grown adults flinging dirty underwear at each other. I would also be lying if I told you that I was able to keep my composure. I laughed so hard my ribs were hurting.
When I reached for the underpants, I had no idea that they would have stains. I had no idea that they would land perfectly so that the stain could be seen by all.
And much like that perfect shot at the buzzer, I couldn’t do it again if I tried.
Which I will continue to do….