Sunday, April 02, 2006

WWPD (What Would Pete Do)?

I realize now that I’ve reached a sort of critical mass with my stuff.
There’s just one too many things on the blink, to the extent that I now have to kick, joggle, whack, shake or rattle several key pieces of equipment to get them to work.
This list includes – but is in no way limited to – my VCR (a series of sharp taps on the side with the remote to make the wavy lines subside) the right front headlamp on my car (a fairly firm kick up the side – pause – repeat as necessary ‘til the light comes on) the hard drive on my computer (I sort of gently whack the sides – dislodges dust I’m thinking) and my dishwasher, which after prolonged tinkering I’ve managed to stop (for the time being) from leaking all over the kitchen floor. Most of the time.
There’s more – plenty more – but whatever inborn obsolescence was built into my stuff, for whatever reason, everything seems to have decided to poop out at once.
I wish I was more like Pete Dougherty – erstwhile companion of coked-out supermodel Kate Moss, himself a disaster in a Rat Pack-style pork pie hat, careening from drug bust to drug bust, caroming off the sides of police officers, reporters and minders from New York to London, smoking his crack, snorting his horse, and just for a little variety one assumes, regularly getting pissed as a fart.
The guy’s an immature mess, which makes the name of his band so absolutely perfect it almost beggars the imagination – certainly one has to proffer a tip of the hat, or at least a salute with the crack pipe – being known as the frontman for ‘Babyshambles’.
But Pete now has a new addiction, one I get and one I wish I had the guts to mainline – buying old Jaguars, parking them illegally and then buying replacements when they get towed away.
For about $2000.00, Dougherty purchases beat up old Jags and drives them around until they fall apart, he does, or the London parking authority makes the decision for him. In a ritual reminiscent of hair-washing, instead of lathering rinsing and repeating, he buys, drives, parks and leaves, starting the cycle all over again at a rate that likely exceeds his schedule of hair-washing… or at least based on paparazzi photos, so it would seem.
A plan so simple it just might work.
I have dreams of doing the dishes just once more, then quietly and stealthily defenestrating my Eaton Viking dishwasher up and over in the dead of night.
Leaving Sylvia my car by the side of the road, (in the bike and taxi lane tee hee!) then running to catch the Red Rocket (Toronto has a great public transit system, so who really needs an automobile?) leaving the car, wonky headlight and steadily encroaching puddle of oil for someone else to deal with.
Don’t get me started on the VCR – long may it corrode in some far away landfill.
Everybody says we live in a disposable society, but how many people have the Pete Dougherty guts to actually throw things away?
About two years ago I wrote about a piece of cardboard I wanted to hang onto against the advice of a tidy boyfriend who wanted to throw it away (along with a raft of other things – let’s face it, the guy was clearly OC) since I wasn’t using it. Not at that minute I wasn’t, but come on. It was a nice, clean, beautifully flat (the secret to good cardboard) unmarked, glossy, shiny piece of perfect pristine cardboard. The type of cardboard you could only have prayed your mother would hang onto so you could use it for a million different craft projects; (when instead you really only usually got the kind of crappy card that came back with your father’s shirts from the dry cleaners) glue, paste, sparkles, stickers, poster paint, beads, bits of tinsel, felt, leaves, buttons – why anything would stick to it. And beautify it. The possibilities were endless. They still are.
Which is why I still have the cardboard, and the boyfriend, as I indicated back then, not so much.
But that’s only the beginning. I delight in wearing clothes I wore in high school – and not only for the thrill of still fitting into them. It’s true what they said: everything really does come around again and I’m one of those people who aren’t standing around moaning about their old platform shoes: I’m ready for virtually any fashion comeback from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.
Jackets with shoulder pads? Check. Skinny-ankle stone-wash Guess jeans? Check. Below the knee hippie boho granny skirts with matching tapestry vests? Check. Giant disco-era earrings? Check, check, and check!
I still feel sick about the pair of Frye boots I wore circa 1975 that I’m positive my father threw into a garage sale (along with my stuffed dog, pony books, board games – and heaven knows how much pieces of pristine cardboard) back in the 80’s when I wasn’t looking – and a similar pair of Frye boots (‘Campus’ style in ‘Banana’) that will now cost you in the neighbourhood of $253.00 – and that’s American – and before tax and shipping charges, so who’s sorry now?
(My father – the garage sale guy – is dead, so actually, we’re sorry on a lot of levels.)
I have a slight magazine habit that I’m trying desperately to quit. But how can I throw away a 1999 Allure with a photo of Heather Locklear on the cover (she and Richie Sambora, still so happy!) when there’s an article inside about the PERFECT ab exercises? I mean, when is an article about perfect ab exercises ever going to come along again? Or a turn of the century Cosmo with tips on how to REALLY please a man? That stuff is radio-active, once in a lifetime gold people!
But the laundry room in my condo has a sort of take a penny, leave a penny book and magazine swap area, and just when I think I know all I really need to know about Brangelina, along comes laundry day and in between cycles, I’m not only reading, I’m taking. And not leaving on the return trip either.
What would Pete Dougherty do? (After getting stoned I mean.) Why he’d throw it all away… and get more!
This is the part I have to remember as I fear filling garbage bags with treasures from the wardrobe fashion forgot… divesting of at least half of the paperbacks I readily admit I will never read…. and shipping any Vanity Fair published before the 43rd President of the United States took up politics (and I mean pre-Governor of Texas days) down to the laundry room to torture some other misbegotten packrat with more storage space and less sense: there’s plenty more stuff where that came from. More vintage clothing stores, more out of print bookshops, more second hand cars and smirky smug salesmen to sell them.
I have a new role model who seems to have got half the equation right – he’s adept at getting rid of stuff. But I worry about the other half. The re-acquiring habit.
Here’s where I can help: I could kick, joggle, whack or shake Pete Dougherty out of his built-in obsolescence, until he was so rattled he’d never touch another drug again so long as he lived.
And then we could pull together all my old magazines and books and fabric and beads and stuff… and do a little craft project together. A little scrapbooking maybe. I know where we could get a nice pristine piece of cardboard if needs be…
That’s what Jane would do.
So it’s all good.

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