Saturday, May 05, 2007


I spent the better part of my day in Goodwill looking for sun hats. It isn't sunny --don't get the wrong idea--this is Portland. I decided to have a pre-Mother's Day hat party at work. Mothers and their mothers. Grandmothers and their mothers, actually. I have to give them something to do with each other or they will spend the whole party arguing about where is home and why can't we go now and where is dad who's been dead for twenty years but it seems like yesterday to them. It is always yesterday, never today, and always just the one moment. Its all you get with Alzheimer's. Its all you get anyway -- they just seem to have a firmer grasp of the ethereal, if that's possible. [Is it?] And it doesn't matter that I hold Mother's Day on the Friday before, because its all the same day. We could have Christmas next Tuesday and they wouldn't blink. But that wouldn't be very nice, would it? So, a couple of days early, we will make peach tea and glue silk flowers onto floppy straw hats and call it a party. Mad as Hatters, every one.

So there I was, not at a Goodwill SuperStore, but at the Goodwill Bins. The Pound Store, as Larry calls it. Everything for sale by the pound. I pictured a bin of hats, teeming with wide-brimmed straw, taking my sweet time picking the nicer ones from the vast selection. This was not to be my fate. There were rules, to begin with. What is it with places like that? Run by lesser folk with attitudes. I hate being elitist. I am a fingersnap away from streetwalking, grocery cart, shit in the alley, wear all your clothes at once poverty and I look down my (perfectly straight, patrician) nose at these poor bastards who sort my leftover shit for a living.

This is supposed to be about sun hats, not a sociological confession.

This place was huge. It rivaled the new Boeing building. There were giant bins of human waste, unsorted, ripe for the picking. But there were so many people. And the rules. First of all, you have to keep moving. If you stand still you get run over. There were Russians (I told you. The scarves give them away. According to my husband they ship this stuff back to the mother country by the buckets.) So all of these people with their shopping carts were digging madly through the bins and I'm s h o p p i n g like I was at Nordstroms or something. I was kind of just strolling, not really wanting to touch anything, pick anything up or turn anything over or get my little hands dirty. And this is precisely what was required. Mind you, there was a time when about half a gram of somethin' woulda had me crawling to the bottom of those bins sorting buttons for days, but I'm civilized now. Timid. Useless. And not a freakin' hat in sight. I took a deep breath and knew I had to dig. Digging was called for. So I began my search.

When all was said and done, at a buck a pound, I had 10.96 worth of hats and flowers. And a breadboard. And a cool Tibetan bag. I think I could get the hang of this. Again.

Memory ... I remember when my brother Kim and I were robbing a Goodwill box, the kind with the metal tip-in donation door. I was sitting in the tipper, balanced between inside and out (I have lived there), reaching inside, going through shit, when the cops drove up. Kim tipped it closed, I fell in, and was stuck in that Goodwill box until he got me out after the cop left.


Anonymous said...

you must have gone to the as-is store. or portland natives are more animalistic than here; our As-Is store is that way, they bring out new bins and there is this rush like cockroaches to a picnic. I just stand back and wait. can't compete on such a level. it gets my temper up. but the hats is a cool idea. take pictures.

msb said...

My friend fell into one of those back in the day and I was always leary. I still love good will. Just so many art projects, so little time. I just read an SF short story by paul park that sort of reads like your thoughts on Alzheimer's. I subject I've pondered a time or two as I watched my mothers brain freeze up. Thank You for all your kind info.

someone said...

zombies. that's what it was like.