Monday, January 9, 2012
The strippers and the sewing book
Often at an estate sale I find myself mulling over some combo of the usual questions: How could people live like this? Why didn't their family want to keep this deeply personal item? What accounts for this fascination with Hummels? And what, exactly, is that smell...?
Sometimes I'll open up a book and something interesting and unrelated will fall into my lap. Then the question becomes, How did this end up in here...?
Like, how did this strip club table card end up inside this 1961 edition of the classic Better Homes & Gardens Sewing Book?
It's challenging, but fun, to try to fathom a scenario that'll explain it. Here's one version: Back in the early ’60s, a Don Draper-ish husband takes a business trip to L.A., joins some fellow execs for a "meeting" at Al Deitch's Body Shop on the Sunset Strip. Drink their two-drink minimum and then some. Don decides to keep the card on the table as a souvenir, stuffs it in the pocket of his gray flannel suit and promptly forgets about it (so much alcohol—how did they remember anything?). Days, maybe weeks later, the wife is about to take Don's suit to the cleaners but checks his pockets first—it is an unwritten hausfrau law that any cash a husband neglects to remove from his pocket before depositing laundry on floor immediately becomes the property of the hausfrau. But instead of a few loose bills to add to her mad money fund, she finds the fulsome Kim and lovely Lolita. What happens next?
1) She freaks out on husband, brandishing the evidence and later, after she's calmed down, thinks "Hmm. This would make a great bookmark."
2) Husband never left it in his pocket; he brought it home specifically as a souvenir for his very understanding wife who happens to be an amateur artist. He thinks she might find inspiration for her Vargas-and-Walter T. Foster inspired work in the figures of Kim and Lolita. Instead, she uses it as a bookmark.
3) There was never any business trip. Husband and wife were vacationing together in L.A. Decide to trawl the clubs of the Sunset Strip, and perhaps pick up an interested third party. Wife cherishes card, a memento of awesome love vacays she used to take with husband, before they had kids, and the kids grew up, and they grew apart, and she became a prisoner of her capacious craft room. Decides to use it as a bookmark.
Seriously, this could go on for hours, for days, years and would we ever hit on the truth? What was Really Going On in that modest split-level ranch? All theories are welcome.