Monday, 12 September 2011
An Unusual Fondness For Elephants
As a woman actively trying to cull her possessions and achieve some sort of transcendent, zen-like, materially detached peace ;), I truly have a problem when it comes to anything embellished with an elephant design or made in the shape of an elephant itself. I loath collections but I have been guilty of buying totally useless items only because they were in the shape of a gaudy, colorful, dazzling elephant.
Take this summer for example. My husband, brother, sister and I went to Oslo. While my husband worked, my brother and sister and I like dutiful Catholics, attended daily mass in St. Olav's which actually was not a duty at all but a serene pleasure as for once William wasn't there wreaking unholy havoc during the sacred celebration of the Eucharist. When mass was finished we got out my brother Sean's laptop and searched out various thrift shops in the vicinity. Unlike North America or the UK, Norway isn't big on thrifting unfortunately but there is the odd shop here and there so each day we walked hours through the city streets in the pouring rain and hit a new one.
When we found them, we would stumble in, dripping water victoriously all over the threshold and go off in search of...treasure. Each day I discovered something elephant related. Each evening I went through buyer's remorse as I agonized over why I had needed a marble elephant shaped ashtray that was heavy enough to double as a murder weapon if the need ever arose. I giggled in alarming hysteria, eyes glazed over as I said in anxious tones..."It's for my guests that smoke! My guests! They'll use it! They will! They'll love it! When they come over and want to smoke, they'll be very happy to see a marble elephant ash tray!" But alas, I convinced nobody. Sean rolled his eyes and asked why any guests that smoked couldn't just butt their cigarettes out in an old beer can like any normal person and I had to concede that he had a point. That and the only guest I have that smokes is in fact Sean.
The next day we again searched out another Fretex (Salvation Army), this time in a more ethnically diverse area of Oslo, where we all searched through piles of garments and after some time paid for those we had chosen. Outside we all smiled at one another and were eager to see what the others had got. Mary-Anne and Sean showed their purchases and then it was my turn. "What did you get Colleen?" Clutching my tiny bag, I can't decide whether to be brazen and confident or self-deprecating... so with a flourish I reach into my bag and pull out a huge necklace with large wooden beads and a massive wooden elephant hanging off it. I try for confidence "It's really cool, isn't it?" They stare at me. Mary-Anne bites her lip. Sean looks at his hands. Awkward silence. Then with what seems a huge collected effort, they both meet my eyes and say "Yes, very nice Colleen!" But I am not fooled by their insincerity, they hate it. I look at it with new eyes. I hate it too. The next few days and purchases remain a blur. Perhaps this is no bad thing. We also enjoyed Vigeland's Sculpture park and the Edvard Munch museum very much. One must throw in a couple cultural delights in the midst of so much mass going and thrift shopping after all.
Have a most lovely day!
Much love, C.