Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

What I discovered while poppin’ tags in Tuscaloosa

After spending most of the weekend curled up in the fetal position watching Jean Luc Godard’s film collection and questioning the meaning of solitude and love, I had a sudden thought. It’s time to get out. I had been tucked away envying the ease of those French women with their stripy shirts and slowly burning cigarettes and all I wanted to do was go shopping. This meant partaking in that activity Americans refer to as “thrifting.”

I don’t ever feel like thrifting is something you can do on a whim; you must prepare yourself for the hours of sifting through semi-questionable items of clothing and strange ornamental goods from the depths of grandma’s china cabinet. It means committing yourself to first wandering down each isle in a slightly overwhelmed state whilst you take everything in before even attempting to consider what will fit.

It means going in with a vague list of items you might want to pick up and coming out instead with a bright gold fanny-pack covered in gold and black moons and stars, a fanny-pack only suitable to be worn at a space convention or perhaps an impromptu hippy rainbow gathering the the middle of the Nevada desert. But I had to have it. Just in case. Who knows when I might need to quickly pull together an outfit for a NASA field trip or a psychedelic parade round the light of a fire.

To equip for this, I thought it also might be appropriate to kit myself out with a few country-style shirts to remember this place by. And – by way of reasoning – in case my spontaneous rave is also accompanied by a travelling line-dancing unit. Be prepared for anything. This was the message I seemed to be getting from the thrift store. New possibilities and scenarios were popping into my head every few minutes.

But whilst moving ever deeper into the wardrobe of fancy-dress ideas, things began to get curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say. I was indeed falling further and further into the rabbit-hole, with the only visible light landing on a shelf full of homecoming queen trophies. Just below this was another shelf full of old football and basketball trophies. Some were quite well intact, with red and blue ribbons attached to their sides. Others looked a little worse for wear, the gold spray fading to reveal the true grey of the plastic pillars underneath.

As I glared in slight alarm at these trophies, a number of questions began to appear in my head. One: Who had all these awards once belonged to, and where were these owners now? Clearly not on the football field. Two: Why had they been drawn to give away such items?

And finally – and most importantly: who did they honestly believe would want to buy them as a reincarnation of their former glory? A glory that had long ago faded with achievements and now disinterest of the person who received them. I could draw no definitive conclusions but came to the vague reasoning that these people could no longer look at the reminder of their long-past glory but couldn’t quite bring themselves to throw out the evidence. Instead they entertained some unlikely hope that someone else could draw a least a semblance of the happiness from these trophies that they themselves had once received.

Loaded with goods I got back in the car, contemplating this strange place of death and rebirth.

More to the point, I now own at least one pair of shoes without holes in the bottom. And they were a bargain.

Lucy Cheseldine is an English international student studying English literature. Her column runs biweekly.

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