Wednesday, August 17, 2005

From Riches to Shmattas

Blogroll Me!

Here's another piece I wrote many, many, many years ago, and just dug up. I haven't read it in years, and will be reading as I type it. Hope the humor is still fresh.

From Riches to Shmattas
By: A. Shmatta

Wipe, wipe, wipe. Shine, shine, shine. Polish, polish, polish.

Oh, I'm so tired. Please let me rest awhile. Mrs. Baumgarten continues to rub me over her silver wine cups. Oooo, I'm so black and streaked. How will I ever get white again?

Mrs. Baumgarten tosses me onto the counter the moment the phone rings. She rushes to answer it. "Hullo? Ida Kaplan, how are you? How's Morris? How're the grandchildren?" She rattles on and on, finally giving me a chance to rest. She didn't place me in a very comfortable position however, so I'm lying her all scrunched up.

These days, my home is in the cupboard underneath the kitchen sink (where I can at least stay warm while hanging over the hot water pipes), and I only get washed about once a month. But you should know that not long ago, I was something. I was important! I was a white, cotton, fleece-lined sweatshirt and belonged to Selma, the youngest Baumgarten daughter. And not just any old white, cotton, fleece-lined sweatshirt either; I was a Camp Beverly Hills sweatshirt.

Was I ever thankful when three years ago, someone came into the boutique, ruffled through the rainbow-colored sweatshirts, and salvaged me from the bottom of the pile. Mmm, I don't look so bad, just a bit rumpled, I thought to myself as the teenager unfolded me and held me up against her chest as she looked in the mirror. The body contact felt good -- I'd lacked contact for a few weeks since that lady had finished sewing me in the factory. Was I thrilled when the girl told the saleslady, "Okay, charge this white one to my dad. Here's his credit card."

I was very popular in those days and got lots of compliments from Selma's crowd. "Wow, what a great sweatshirt. Selma, do you think I could borrow your 'sweat' sometime?"

Selma and I became bosom buddies. She took me nearly everywhere she went and I got to see a lot of sights -- the high school gym, the school library, some good movies, and even the back seat of an old, beat-up '69 Chevy. Spain last summer was great and California during spring break was even wilder. Some unpleasant places I came into contact with and dreaded were cluttered gym lockers and the dirty clothes hamper.

I also lived for a while with Brian Green, one of Selma's many boyfriends. He gave her a gold bracelet, and she in turn gave him her favorite sweatshirt -- that's me! Life with Brian wasn't so splendid. I often had to tag along to football games and be left alone on the bleachers. Once in a while, Muffy, Brian's terrier, started up with me. We'd get into some pretty heavy arm wrestling. She thought it was a ball. I didn't!

Lucky for me, the relationship lasted only a couple of months. Brian and Selma broke up and returned each other's love tokens. So, back I was with Selma, a little out of shape and showing a few more wrinkles, but still in style nonetheless.

At first, Selma was excited to have me back, but it soon became evident that there was competition in my life.

On a shopping outing one day, Selma, with me hugging her shoulders, stepped into the same boutique where we had first become acquainted (ie. where she had picked me up). She wasn't looking for anything in particular, but that didn't matter. No sooner were we in the store, than Selma spotted a neon banana-yellow sweatshirt. "Oh, how chic!" she exclaimed. "I just have to buy this Fiorucci. It'll add so much color to my wardrobe."

I hung there, peeking over Selma's shoulder and silently pleading, No, no. You don't want a Fiorucci. Fiorucci isn't in style. Camp Beverly Hills garb is!

Selma voiced her opinion to the saleslady as she pulled out her father's infamous credit card. "I'm going to be the first one in my crowd with a 'Fio' sweatshirt. If the girls see that I have one, they'll all want one too."

The next thing I knew, I was being stuffed into the Boutique La Moda bag, while the Fiorucci sweatshirt took its place around Selma's shoulders. Was I angry and jealous! Selma walked home, swinging the bag freely in her hand, so I was feeling pretty claustrophobic and nauseated within my plastic prison by the time we got home.

Selma laid me and my archrival side by side on her bed and went to call her friends to tell them of her latest purchase. The Fiorucci tried to make conversation with me, but I was in no mood to try to break through the language and cultural barrier.

Selma would still take me with her when she'd go out, but less frequently and to fewer places. I'd sit and wait anxiously in Selma's top dresser drawer for her to choose me, but more often she chose to take "the little bambina who ain't from Pasadena." There was no doubt that Camp Beverly Hills was out and Fiorucci was in!

One day, Selma came into the room, opened the drawer,took me lovingly into her arms and said aloud, "Well, the jig is up. You've just about had it with me. I think I'll donate you to the Hadassah rummage sale. Someone might still be able to make use out of you."

What was I hearing?! Selma, you can't mean it! After all those good times we've had together, you're getting rid of me?

There was no time to plead my case aloud 'cause Selma took me into the kitchen, tossed me over to Mrs. Baumgarten and said, "Here, Ma. You can take this along with your other old clothes to the rummage sale next week," and walked out.

Mrs. Baumgarten turned me over in her hands, examining me closely and said aloud, "Bazaar, shmazaar. They'll have enough stuff to sell. I'm keeping this. It'll be good to use as a shmatta for polishing silver."

Oh, no! How can she do this to me? How can Selma do this to me...?

So...that's the story of my life -- "A sweatshirt today, a shmatta tomorrow."

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