Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Finders Keepers

About three months ago, while walking through a residential neighborhood on the way to a meeting, I encountered a huge pile of garbage.

Now, those of you who don't know me in real life don't know that I am an inveterate scrounger, as was my father before me, and his father before him. Some of my fondest memories are of a now deceased local bookstore in Brooklyn Heights, where I grew up. You see, not only did I hang out there all the time, but the bookstore had this bad habit of piling boxes full of stripped books on the street for my father and I to pick through. Well, maybe not for us to pick through, but that is what we did, and often. Every pile of garbage we encountered, provided it wasn't too rotten, was a potential treasure trove of books, magazines, and sundry wonders. Once we even took home a portfolio of x-rays we found in a trash can. It was great.

As a disclaimer, as an aspiring-to-be-published author I now know what a naughty thing it is to take home stripped books and I won't ever do it again. I promise.

Speaking of naughty things, that evening three months ago, I pawed through the pile of boxes and discovered a huge number of classic porn magazines. By huge, I mean huge. There must have been more than a hundred of them. And by classic, I mean classic. These things dated from the mid 1970s, back in the day when Playboy really could be read for the articles. They were amazing.

It wasn't so much the sexy that made an impression on me - though I'll admit straight up that some of those women were nice to look at, even if in real life they are now all my mother's age, at least - it was something else. Finding all those (relatively) ancient porn magazines was a magical moment of serendipity, a gift from the universe.

I wondered about who had thrown these away and why. Why would the kind of person who would collect nearly ten years' worth of Playboys get rid of them. Had his wife found them - or I dunno, her husband - and objected? Had he thrown them away joyfully, to make room for a new love in his life, or had he grown old and forgetful of what had made them worth keeping in the first place? Or had he died, and the magazines left on the road by the children and siblings who survived him, a memento of their loved one they did not chose to keep.

Of course, that's what's really fun about being a scrounger. Sometimes, like all those stripped books, it's a matter of finding something cool and useful. Sometimes, however, like the x-rays or the playboys or the tiny glass dove with a broken wing I once found, it's the stories. What are these things, where did they come from, who left them behind, and why?

I'd like to invite you all to tell me the stories of things you've found, or a totally made-up story about something found by someone.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Brilliant! I actually like it, and you shouldn't say bad things about it. I'm going to make a post to draw everyone's attention to it!