He saw me first.
He was digging through a crate a few feet away.
“I’ve looked through everything, so if there’s something you’re looking for I can probably tell you if it’s there” he said.
I told him about my Purple Rain record conundrum and we bonded over the fact that our town is basically sold out of all things Prince – except for commemorative magazines (one glance at my local newsstand and it’s clear that those are multiplying like gremlins.) This fed into a conversation about how it’s hard to find good soul music in Victoria. Our thrift shop adventures. Hip hop. Record shopping in LA. The best places to eat in Harlem. Music, music and more music.
I told him I’d gone to see the Miles Davis movie while was playing at the local repertory theatre.
“What was the crowd like?” he asked.
“What you’d expect. A theatre full of white haired senior citizens, one elderly black man and a hippie guy eating lentil stew out of a tupperware container.”
He then told me that he’d found an unopened copy of Guns and Roses’ Appetite for Destruction on vinyl for a $2 at a thrift store recently.
“I have so many questions for the previous owner of this record, starting with WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?” I replied.
That’s around the time that I noticed that he was kind of cute. White guy. Horn-rimmed glasses. Small nose stud. Denim vest. Black baseball cap. It was clear that he was trying to cultivate a 1980’s Beastie Boys vibe and I wasn’t hating it.
I was in awe. It’s so rare that I meet anyone in this town, let alone someone with common interests that I can immediately jump into a conversation with without it feeling weird. This guy seemed cool – or at the very least, extremely musically literate.
I’m sure my face looked like the emoji with the heart eyes.
He confessed, “it’s kind of embarrassing, but I like to collect new age CD’s. There’s so many of them here and some of them are really cool if you actually listen to them. Weird, but good.”
“Hey, no judgement” I replied. “If it makes you feel any better, I collect ken dolls of 90’s celebrities. I have an MC Hammer doll that sits on my desk.”
“No way. I have that exact doll – STILL IN IT’S ORIGINAL PACKAGING!”
Clearly, this man was my soulmate.
That’s when my phone buzzed and I saw that my Mom was looking for me in the store. (She’s my #1 thrift shopping sidekick.)
I floated over to the other side of the store, found my mom, and floated back towards the cash register where he was getting ready to pay for a stack of new age CDs.
“Enjoy your CDs!” I said.
“Thanks! Hey, you won’t believe what I found!”
I looked down to see a copy of a Little Sambo book (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can read up on the history here.) On the cover was an illustration of a small white child, leading a small black child on what appeared to be a leash.
“OH DEAR LORD” I gasped.
At first I assumed he was going to turn the book in to the staff so they could take it off the shelves. That’s what I would have done. But, then he spoke.
“Isn’t it awesome?! I collect all of this shit. I have a whole room of black face stuff at home. I love it!” he said.
My face turned from heart eyes to whatever emoticon signifies “OH HELL NO.”
“Nice meeting you!” he said as he strolled out the door and into the night.
People always ask me what it’s like to be 35 and single.
I think Alanis Morissette said it best when she sang, “It’s like meeting the man of your dreams, then meeting his collection of super racist artifacts.”