Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The ugly thing I didn't buy

There are few things in the world I love more than thrift store shopping, and most of those things are best enjoyed naked.

I was fully clothed and shopping with a friend recently when we came across a special piece of merchandise:
"I can't tell you how often I've wished for a lamp that doubles as a cheese grater," I told my friend.

She laughed. "Let's rub it and see if a genie comes out."

"I'm not touching anything that comes out of that lamp unless I get rubber gloves and a tetanus shot."

"I'm wondering about the drugs you'd need to take to make you look at this and think, 'that belongs in my living room.'" She poked a finger through the front. "Maybe that's it – they used this lamp as a place to stash drugs."

I peered at the price tag, a little dumbfounded. "$35? Are you kidding me?"

"That seems reasonable. It is art, after all."

I suppose so, now that I think about it. I can (and did) look at that lamp and laugh, but someone, somewhere, thought it was beautiful. Or at least a desirable component of one's household decor.

This is what people mean when they tell you feedback from editors, agents, and readers is largely subjective. One person's ugly lamp is another person's glorious treasure. One editor might tell you romantic comedy is dead, and the other might call your agent gushing that they've been desperate to find a hot new romantic comedy author.

That's pretty much how things unfolded when we landed this three-book deal two years ago, and I'm grateful for it every day.

Got an ugly lamp story of your own? Either a real ugly lamp, or something metaphorical wherein one person's trash was another person's treasure? Please share!

Is it wrong that I kinda regret not buying that lamp? I wonder if it's still there...


Teri Anne Stanley said...

When The Big Guy and I were engaged, I began to hear rumours about an Elvis bust that was destined to show up as a wedding gift. Something of a tradition among his group of friends, which, I suppose, indicated acceptance.

Can I just tell you how excited I was to get that thing? I had a place for it to live before it ever showed up.

Sadly, Elvis was made of cheap plaster and didn't survive the move from Ohio to Georgia. So sad, and irreplaceable. Except the irreplaceable part. I'm pretty sure there are a couple more like that.

But I'm thinking that lamp might have looked really good next to Elvis on the mantel.

Patty Blount said...

OMG, you reminded me of my favorite saying. One person's Oooo is another person's Ewwwww.

My dad and his second wife (who HATED me) were garage sale and antique fans. When my parents were still married, many arguments began with Dad's latest "ooo" which Mom thought was "Ewww."

We were at my sister's house when Dad pulled out this hideous and huge vase. I was trying to be diplomatic without, you know, gagging, but I was also afraid he was going to give it to me and demand it be put in my living room. So I said, "It's nice but it's not my taste."

Dad's wife snatched it out of my hands and snarled, "It doesn't need to be YOUR taste."

Yeah, dodged a bullet there.

Anonymous said...

Hubby has a carved teak elephant head looming over the den. I'm so proud.

Unknown said...

I'm still amazed when my mom and I send each other photos of various furniture we like. We have such different tastes I'm not sure we're even related.

On that note, if you ever need a good laugh I can suggest walking through the clothes section at a second-hand shop with a good friend in tow. I once saw a pair of trance pants hung among the overalls as if they were supposed to be warm...

Michelle Wolfson said...

I'm pretty sure I saw that exact lamp in some great-aunt's mahjong's partner's screened in balcony (the bugs, you know) in Del Boca Vista.

Linda G. said...

Stay strong, Tawna. Don't do it!

Christina Auret said...

Sometimes the trash just needs to get a coat of paint, or have it scraped off. I have pretty good examples of both:

My mother once discovered a really beautiful, hand carved, hard wood table under 5 coats of hideous green paint. It had been standing in a barn serving as a work table for 20 plus years. Now it has pride of place in her foyer.

I had an experience on the other side of the spectrum.

I bought a wooden giraffe that looked like a blind carver’s first attempt at woodwork. I intended to paint it red with purple spots for maximum goofiness, but after the first coat of red I stopped. The giraffe had been transformed from goofy to pure evil by that one layer of paint. It is still one of my favourite things.

Patrick Alan said...

Sometimes a lamp like that grows on you though. Especially if it keeps following you around and saying nice things and buying you things and then one day the lamp isn't there and you think how much you missed having that ugly lamp around.

Wait what are we talking about?


Teri Anne, that lamp and the Elvis bust were made for each other!

Patty, LOL, that story cracked me up!

Gene Pool Diva, how big is it? Er, that's not how I meant it.

Malin, I looooove clothes shopping at thrift stores. I very rarely buy any clothing brand new.

Michelle, want me to mail it to her so she has a pair?

Linda G, you're just saying that because you want it for your next birthday.

Christina, I want to see a picture of that!!

Patrick, I see they've adjusted your meds again.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Anonymous said...

Something like 14-16 years ago my grandfather took his daily walk (still does) and he found this bar sign in someones trashcan on the side of the road. He took the sign and cleaned it up. The sign became my uncles christmas present. My uncle LOVED it and still has it in his bar area today.