Thursday, September 2, 2010

Collectors vs Horders

The Girl has a new favorite television show and she’s getting me hooked, too, Pickers . Its Antique Roadshow meets Horders. These guys from Iowa head out in their van and travel all over the Midwest and South. Despite the fact I’m not into the antiques they find: old cars and car parts and signs what has me hooked are the characters they meet and the mesmerizing nature of all the crap, treasures, junk and stuff people collect over the span of several life times. It’s a little overwhelming to think about all that stuff just sitting in barns and sheds and attics and basements. A lot of the stuff featured on the Pickers was made during The Great Depression when people supposedly didn’t have any money to buy stuff so why is there so much of it? This doesn’t follow my limited understanding of supply and demand economics.

But anyway, we look upon junked out places with new eyes after watching a season’s worth of Mike and Frank’s adventures on the road, and this weekend was no different. The place we stayed in the mountains has been in the same spot since, 1900 and has a charming rustic vibe to it. There were a few old cars sitting around the property and stuff just piled under a couple of the old cabins. It is also an antique store with more stuff crammed into that you can imagine. Tables and tables of figurines and tiny vases and stacks of saucers and plates and baskets of god only know what. Three rooms stuffed to the rafters with things for sale. It was so full and busy I didn’t know where to look first and TG was so overwhelmed she went outside to talk to April, Kip’s new girlfriend. But I stuck it out and snapped pictures of things which were randomly grouped together and either made comical or poignant tableaus. What had me awestruck was where in the Hell did all this crap come from and why do we keep making stuff when there are mounds of stuff just sitting in barns all over the American south? Why were little angel or puppy or kitten or bird figurines made to begin with?

The other night, Frank and Mike were going through an old barn with a guy easily in his 80’s. This guy had forgotten what was even there and it was like he rediscovered his stuff all over again but he wouldn’t part with it. Maybe I’m way too puritanical but I’m thinking if you don’t know you have it, you don’t need it. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I know hording is a sickness. I can’t even watch Horders because those people are so terribly ill it makes my stomach turn. But I seriously wanted to put this old guy on the couch and find out what was it he was trying to relive or what kind of hole in his life was he trying to fill with that stuff in his barn? Stuff he didn’t even bother with anymore. He was almost wistful as he came across things he had once loved and grief caught in his voice as he told the guys he couldn’t sell this or that artifact.

And I also started wondering if you piled up all the stuff hidden away in barns, sheds, storage units, basements, closets and attics along with all the unsold stuff already in antique shops, thrift stores, discount stores and tag sales would the pile be as big as Venus or just the Earth. I’m voting Venus. My nephew said it best a couple of years ago when the economy fell down and went boom. “I’ll start worrying about the economy when Americans stop buying useless stuff.”

Watching the guys pick and going into places like that makes me want to throw my stuff out and parse living down to four changes of clothes three pairs of shoes, a sauce pan, two place settings and four glasses.

If I winnow my life down to that, I’ve got a long way to go. Maybe I should call our new TV boyfriends to come over and pick through our treasures.

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