Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life in the cheap lane

posted Thu, 07 Oct 2004

Today is Simkhat Torah, the last of the big Jewish holidays in this season. It is the celebration of the end of the cycle of the reading of the Torah. “We read the last Torah portion, then proceed immediately to the first chapter of Genesis, reminding us that the Torah is a circle, and never ends,” says the Judaism 101 website.

Catholics take three years to go through our readings, I think, but I don’t think we get a holiday at the end.

What Simkhat Torah means to me is that the JCC is closed. It is God’s way of saying to the Christian members of the J, “go shopping at lunch instead of exercising.” I am not one to ignore God, so shopping I went.

I had two interesting experiences. The first place I went was Eugenia’s, a resale shop where I have occasionally found a decent deal or two. Not so much now that I have discovered eBay, but enough that I check in there a few times a year.

I am looking for a new winter coat (new to me, anyhow) as the one I got in Chile for ten dollars at the resale shop there has never fit right, even though it looks like it was probably handmade at a very expensive shop in Oslo. (Yes, many of the used clothes you give to Goodwill end up in South America. Especially if you give them to the Goodwill in Oslo.)

I browsed through the rack of winter coats at Eugenia’s and found a lovely powder-blue wool one I liked. But after glancing at the price tag, I didn’t even bother to try it on.

Three hundred fifty dollars.

Yes. That’s right. Three hundred fifty dollars for a USED coat.

I was in a consignment store in Miami once when this lady was giving the store owner a hard time. “You sold my Ralph Lauren suit for only $80! I paid $3,000 for this purse and you sold it for $100!”

I wanted to yell at her, “Lady! These are your USED clothes! They don’t hold their value the way gold does!” I also wanted to know who would be so crazy as to pay $3,000 for a purse she did not plan to use every day for the rest of her life.

Then I went to Michael’s, the crafts store. They had bales of hay out front. The small bales – about the size of a shoebox – cost $4.99. The large (their word, not mine) bales – maybe the size of two basketballs – cost $9.99.

If my grandfather had been able to sell hay for those sorts of prices, I would not being doing the glamorous work I do today. I would be living the life of Paris Hilton. Or at least Paris Holiday Inn.

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