i once thought my need to go thrifting had something to do with that “gathering” instinct we as women are supposed to possess. then, the idea of finding a needle in the haystack became the response. today, i think it has something to do with the memory of my junior prom. now, you must understand, i was the lanky, poorly dressed she-dork with a bad perm and big eyeglasses that changed into sunglasses when i stepped outside. AP classes, mat maid, flag girl, the girl who sat in the front row during english class, who ate her lunch alone in the library, and the one who was beat up by a girl from the senior class.
that year, i picked an ill-fitting sequin and satin turquoise mermaid dress from dillards to wear to the dance. and what a nightmare. two other girls, one being the head cheerleader and another being the most popular girl in school, wore the exact same dress. my dress hid in the shadows at a table in the furthest corner away from the dance floor and the stage. the wallflower in the shimmery turquoise dress watched through a pair of eyeglasses that kept sliding down her nose as her friends danced and laughed the night away.
she vowed to herself, “never again.”
i discovered a kind of solace when i began shopping at thrift stores. the obvious being that no one would own the same clothes as me. but more importantly, it was part of a creative release that has remained throughout the years. with such an outlet, i transitioned from that insecure geeky phase into a geek who appreciated having that awkward phase.
it was character building.
it is a story worth telling.
which leads me to the point of sharing this tale in the first place. this morning, i read this. it reminded me of my youth and my mother’s curled lip and look of disgust at the second hand clothes i used to bring home.
like most thai women, my mom is very ghost sensitive.
she used to say, “someone died in that dress. ”
“you look hippie.”
“a ghost is in the house because she wants her shirt back.”
“you look junky.”
“i saw a ghost last night. you have to get rid of that [leopard swing] jacket or she will haunt us.”
i always felt her responses were a reaction to how i dressed and not the dress itself. little did i know, there was something cultural in her refusal to go thrifting with me or her smirk of disgust when i modeled around in my psychedelic shift dress with platform shoes.
in retrospect, she must have thought “what kind of ghost would want such a hideous dress?