Friday, December 22, 2006

Marina from Perfume Smellin' Things and Ina of Aromascope have today posted an interesting blog about the first five fragrances they owned and loved, which reminded me of my youthful shopping addiction, and a story...

I was lucky enough to grow up in a lovely (if a little pretentious) college town in New England. One of the advantages of having grown up there in the late 60's and early 70's was that unlike todays "No Child Left Behind (except those whose schools we've criminally underfunded)" the powers that be thought that an actual fully rounded education complete with Art and French and music as well as sports was not only a good idea, it was mandatory. Luckily, there were literally a pool of bright young things from one of those colleges more than willing to teach children as young as 6th grade the intracases of singing or sculpting or using the potters wheel or French. I think it's important that I was exposed to these things: It's inculcated in me the slightly obnoxious idea that there is practically nothing I cannot do if I merely give it enough of a shot. You might not want to be the first person I try brain surgery on, but if you're say the fifth, you'd be golden.

In any case, one of the things that the school would have is Summer School, to which my family packed us kids off. This was more than the usual summer school: yes there were the people there who had flunked math, but there were also those kids from the college who for credit would stage shows, give classes in art, pottery, and fashion design. As you would guess, I took shop.

Did you buy that one for even a minute? Didn't think so. Well, one year they also did field trips. One of which was to New York. To look at galleries in SoHo culminating with a trip to the Met. In one Prince Street gallery was one piece of art that did it: a photo-realistic picture of a page of the New York Times crumpled up. What page you ask? One of the classifieds with an ad for Potamkin Cadillac. So realistic that you had to get right up close to realise that it was not indeed a crumpled wad of the August Times. Since that thrill lasted about 2 seconds and the Apple Store wasn't going to open for another 30 years, my friend Debbie and I ditched and headed to Bloomingdales. We knew that the group would be meeting at the Met and had previously researched our escape; we told one of the other kids what we were doing (one we knew would eventually tell but not think to ask to come along) and made a dash for the Subway.

I'll spare you most of the details of the actual trip, except to write that I found a pea-green Calvin Klein bomber jacket on sale at a ridiculously low price and somehow managed to whinge my way into making management accept an out-of-state check to get it. I got a stern lecture upon my return to the group about the perils of The City. To this day however, I think I would brave snarling wildebeest, land mines and even bad lighting for designer goods at 75% off.

And you wondered how I got this way?

4 comments:

elle said...

Great post! I can totally see you escaping to shop and would have been astounded if you hadn't. It was the only logical, intelligent thing to do.
And what a wonderful school! My two best friends went to a school very similar to that in NJ. I grew up overseas and went to schools where a fully rounded education was also strongly emphasized (although sounds like your school was a hell of a lot more fun) and my darling gay father made damn sure I learned anything they didn't emphasize in arts or music. However, my DH went to a horrific school system in NC. If it didn't have a connection to something practical, like a future in engineering or auto repairs, it got glossed over. He basically had to educate himself once he started undergrad.
Oh, and if your rates are good, I'll put myself 6th in line if I ever need brain surgery (would be helpful to have an operation that reduces my desire to spend).

tmp00 said...

My rates would be excellent, but there's no way I could cut the shopping portion out of anyones brain: my version of the hyppocratic oath: first, do no harm to the shopping.

colombina said...

Tom,

What a pleasure it was to read this post! I wish my school put in my head the same idea: that I could do anything if I give it a shot. Utopian as it might be (in my case), it is still more preferable than "let's be realistic, however hard you try, nothing you do will probably be much of a success". Which is what my school put in my head, unintentionally, I am sure. It couldn't help itself, it was lost and confused in the chaos of the emerging market economy that followed the fall of USSR. :-)

I don't know why I am rambling so this morning...

As soon as your practice opens, I'd like to be 7th in the line, Dr. Tmp00.

tmp00 said...

In many ways it was a good school system. I wish that the schools here weren't cutting classes in art and the humanities. I really believe that they can help kids to learn to, well, learn. To not look at it as a chore.