I go to thrift stores in search of designer dresses priced by people who think Betsey Johnson makes packaged desserts. I go to find garments that are almost too hip for me to pull of- like a blue suede tunic with fringe around the plunging neck line. I do not go thrifting to meet men. But if anyone in New York City is going to get picked up in a Goodwill, of course it’s going to be me.
I earn my living by being friendly and approachable. Sometimes I forget to turn this off. Therefore I am often asked for directions, drawn into random conversations, and asked for my opinions in dressing rooms. The last one is the weirdest. Does the overweight woman really think I’m going to tell her the truth (that she should go up a size) when she asks me what I think of the dress she’s tried on? Maybe she asks me because she knows I will lie: “Perfect for a wedding.” Does the middle-aged woman really think I have a valid opinion on the beige sweater she is trying on? “Looks cozy,” I say aloud, leaving my true thought, “and shapeless” to myself.
One Sunday morning I’m browsing the racks of the Goodwill on the Upper West Side when I hear a man’s voice, “What do you think of this jacket?”
I turn to see a guy around my age wearing a bright blue jacket with the name STEVE embroidered on the breast pocket. “Is your name ‘Steve’?” I ask.
“No. It’s Peter,” he replies.
“Well, it would be cool if your name was actually STEVE.” Were he a woman my reply would have most likely been, “Looks great!” but since he’s a man…in Goodwill…asking a pretty girl for fashion advice…I feel invited to be something of a sassy-pants. Besides, my true thought is it’s a dorky looking jacket.
While I’m not a fan of dorky jackets, the same is not so true of dorky men. Especially when they’re kind of cute, which Peter is. Besides, there’s something bizarre but intriguing about a man who makes a move at Goodwill. Shortly after, “So I told you my name, you should tell me yours”, a conversation about grad school, and a confession that he’s about to move to the neighborhood, Peter leaves Goodwill. He’s purchased the dorky jacket and procured my phone number. He’s been told if he wears the jacket on a date, I’ll immediately walk out. He thinks I’m kidding.
Alas, the moral of this story is “Don’t meet men at Goodwill.” Shocking, I know. Peter asks me out to a movie. My least favorite first date option. On the plus side, he doesn’t wear the jacket. We meet at the theater, with barely enough time for a conversation before we are sitting in silence in front of the big screen. This is not how you get to know someone. In the middle of the movie, Peter puts his hand on my leg. This is not how you get to know someone, and it’s certainly not how you attract someone. I remove his hand and think, At least he paid for the movie.
Perhaps I should have left right after the movie, but then I wouldn’t have a great ending to the story. I give him some benefit of the doubt, he didn’t persist being handsy, and we go get coffee. Over a chai latte it becomes more and more clear we have little in common. He’s dull. My wit may attract him (doubtful, probably just my legs) but it leaves him in the dust. I’m now looking for my exit.
He finishes his drink and aims his cup at the garbage can by the door. “Do you think I can make the shot?” he asks.
“Do you play basketball?” I counter.
“Hm, no. I don’t think you’ll make it.”
“Well let’s make this interesting,” he says, “If I make it, you give me a kiss.”
“Ok,” I say, hedging my bets, “And if you don’t make it, I leave.”
“Go big or go home.”
He didn’t make the shot. True to my word, I walked out of the café. Perfect exit. I never saw him again.
I’ll still look for love in Goodwill, but only in the shoe selection.