Monday, May 21, 2007

This Dress Is A Zebra Print

The other day I walked into a vintage clothing store filled with cats. There were at least ten of them, living around the massive piles of clothes, clothes packed in so tightly that you could barely see anything. The place was located in a rough part of town; two of the windows were knocked out of the place like gaping teeth that had been boarded up with box remnants. When I walked in using a very tiny side entrance, I was greeted by a fake kitty meowing, an alarm system of sorts, and several of the real kitties swirling like eddies around my feet. I fell in love then and there, but my companions were less than enamored by the smell of cat urine and mounds of old clothing. A tiny woman came out of the back room and told us that there would be more clothes next week. Where, whispered one of my companions, would she put it? She had a kind sweet face and when she returned to the back to sort more clothes, she talked into the eerie silence of the store to the kitties, telling them about each garment and how she planned to mark it. Hi Fluffy, she said, this dress is a zebra print from the sixties, I overheard her say in a lilting voice that could break your heart.
There's an old joke about two types of children -- the one that gets the pony for Christmas and starts looking around, saying, There's a pony in here so there's got to be some shit somewhere and the other kid who gets a load of shit for Christmas and says, There's so much shit that there's got to be a pony in here! As is the wont in fairytales, I felt as if I'd stumbled someplace magical when I went into that store. I bought some earrings, and she told me that she'd have some shorts from the sixties out for display next week, although there was nothing about the store that lent itself to the kind of clarity associated with the word display. "They're homemade," she said. "You won't find anything in the world like them." Of that, I was certain. I walked out of the store into the gritty street where my companions had already set up camp, driven out by the cat smell. "Did you find something you liked?" asked one of them. "I always do," I said, but this time, unlike so many times before, I meant it.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Writing is a process of dealing without knowing, a forcing of what and how." Donald Barthelme
Cocktail Hour
Drinking short story suggestion: "Parker's Back" Flannery O'Connor (one of my very favorites)
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday! Go Pistons!


TV Guide said...

Only two episodes of the Sopranos left!

A.J. Soprano said...

As you probably know by now, Michelle, I'm in a psychiatric hospital because I tried to kill myself. The rope I tied to the cinder block was too long and the rubber band I used for the platic bag over my head wasn't tight enough. Besides, my dad is a pretty good swimmer. I think I should've taken my shrink's advice and written a short story to clarify my thoughts, but the world had turned to shit, the center cannot hold as that boring English professor said quoting that boring W.B. Yeats guy. So now I've dropped out of college for the second time. I think I self=medicated too much with the pot and I wish my mother hadn't told my shrink that I acted like an animal on my Confirmation day by smoking pot in the garage. It could be genetic. I think my father does drugs. When my buds, the two Jasons--Parisi and Gervasi--got into it with the African guy in front of the frat house, calling him a nigger and a terroist and then kicked the crap out of him it sort of depressed me. I don't think the Lexapro is working very well. I've been on Valium here. I like Dr. Vogel, though. He's a very nice shrink and I don't even think of him as being gay. Thanks for all your support of the Sopranos, Michelle, there are only two episodes left.

Susan Miller said...

Ah yes, a wonderful character.

Rodney Dangerfield said...

It looks like a leopard print in that photo, Michelle, if you know what I mean. Or some kind of cat. You can't get me to say pussy, if you know what I mean.

Pythia3 said...

Ah, Michelle, it's been a while, I know . . . and it's good to be back! This store sounds amazing! Right up my alley (of course, pun intended!)I would love to experience it.
Hope to talk to you soon - my life is a white canvas right now - the beauty and lightness of whiteness! xo

rush limbaugh said...

i know this lady that runs this junk store. I think we are on the same meds.

Charles Gramlich said...

This is the kind of place you half expect to find gone when you return. Not as if it has closed up, but as if it had never actually been. In this reality at least.

Paul said...


the walking man said...

I thought for a minute what store you were talking about but seeing as i haven't bought any clothes for myself since the 60's I guess not.

There is a cool paint store between 9 mile and 8 mile on Van Dyke all the paint you want for six bcks a gallon. They buy al the mis mixed paint and discontinued paints from sears and all the other stores and if you take a color sample in they will mix you as close as they can your color, even if it means opening 50 gallons to take a bit of this and a bit of that to mix.

If you want to see how they do, come check out the old lady's kitchen. But what your tale of the Cat kingdom reminded me of was in this store their is a Rotwieller, that is unusually friendly for a watch dog and he won't leave you alone. You have to kick his ROCK down the crowded aisleways for him to chase and bring back. This is OK fun for the first few minutes but if they need to open a hundred cans to get your color it could go on for an hour.

If you quit kicking the damn rock the dog comes and not real gently pushes your leg with his nose.

So it's either the musty smell of cat urine or the dog snot on your clothes, what quaint stores we have in this area.

realbigwings said...

Great photo; I love the expression and gesture, lovely yet tough.
~I'd last about half a minute in a store like that. I love kitties and they love me, but they still kill me all the same.

Dan said...

What a sweet story Michelle. That woman wants you to come back. Maybe you should. I'll bet the kitties enjoyed your company as well. I would have loved petting every one of them. Hugs and kisses to you for being so sweet.

holden said...

Great post--do I ever say anything else? I did once or twice, you know.

You usually try to avoid animals, but you manage to find the nicest, sanest cat lady this side of my mom. Love the part about display cases being too clear a metaphor for the place. Not to mention you are brilliant with your final lines like that, using things we take for granted, such as a simple greetings and goodbyes, and bring them to a focus like you do. You lead us from darkness to shade and maybe the light, if we do a little work ourselves!

Claustrophobic is a good word for that abyss, a prayer candle from a friend my only light to scratch the letters in the wall by.

And you know it, downtown.
FLSRCnmayB-e2. More work to do.

holden said...

if I were a goddamn hammer, I tell ya...

Morgan O'Cadillac said...

I got to talking about writing
again because that works for her

she has a poem by bukowski called trapped
tatooed to her back
in old english letters
shadowed and barely ledgible
but I can read anything

she already drank theirs,
and hers
and now she wants me
to drive her home
without her ride
and home I drove
as she undressed enough
with the street lights burning
her hair in my hand
orange firefly trails
shadows chasing light across her back
highlighting and closing each line
each word I could never hate

we drove home
I knew that
poem by heart
but there wasn't enough
orange streaking stars
across the dead city night
to read each other

maybe she'd not miss a thing
if I didn't call her
my love

or maybe I wouldn't miss a thing
I never called love

until I got her home
we were trapped

just like that

Cheri said...

The quote at the end of your post was just what I needed. =D

I've been thrifting since my best friend could drive, and with each piece of clothing that we've bought, we've also gotten someone else's history with that garment.

Now my mother and I go, but we buy furniture and glass instead.

Pinckney said...

Good morning from North Carolina, Michelle. I'm greatly enjoying your blog.