I got this dress at a thrift store for one dollar. It's a bridesmaid's dress.
Someone loved it intensely for one day, then tossed it.
Like a Christmas tree, so special... then bam!
It's abandoned on the side of the road, tinsel still clinging to it....

Suburbia: the heart and soul of capitalism, with its identical cookie cutter homes and its perpetual greed machine. Work so you can spend so you can buy so you can sell so you can spend so you can buy so you can sell so you can keep breathing, living, laughing, feeling good about your country. Endless cycles of consumerism that leave people sedated, passive, and slaves to the almighty dollar.

Enter Peggy, the PTA president and captain of the soccer moms. She shops at the JC Penney's white sale and she watches Martha Stewart and her goal for this year is to lose that 15 pounds (oh, and world peace would be good, too).

Peggy eats chocolate when she feels stressed--which is always. She gains weight and, although her husband is having an affair with his secretary (who shops at Neiman Marcus), Peggy wants to please him. She buys exercise videos and ab machines and exercise bikes and abandons them all, one by one, for a sweet bar of Hershey's goodness.

Then there's Jo Anne next door, who works 50+ hours a week to support her children as a single mother. She's done graduate school and part time jobs and everything she's had to do to give her kids a piece of the middle class pie.

But on more than one night Jo's stayed awake, scared she couldn't make the rent or afford next week's groceries. And though she's now got a great paying job, she's still insecure about money. It seems every time Jo gets a paycheck, she spends what she can on shit she doesn't need. A juicer, a second pair of sneakers, jewelry, books--things she'll never use except to validate her place on the economic ladder. She can leave the store with arms full of packages and know she paid for it herself; people who don't have enough money don't buy juicers.

Bob played golf every Saturday with his buddies. He worked hard and played hard and his house became his palace, filled with electronics and mahogany desk sets and fancy beer steins and vintage billiards.

Even though he played the game and followed the rules, recession swallowed Bob up like an afternoon snack and spit him out just as fast. He's lost his job, his 401k and if he wants to make it out with the Ralph Lauren on his back, he'll have to sell what he can. Even the golf clubs.

So you're driving by on a Saturday afternoon and, like all the other good little consumers, your mind is on spending what you've earned all week.

Garage Sale
Today from 8a-1p

Here before you are the Peggys, Jo Annes and Bobs of the world, prostituting their hard-earned possesions.3 All the exercise gizmos and juicers and golf clubs are laid out among the fare. The evening gown she wore on the happiest night of her life and his favorite slippers and her old college typewriter. Memories, family heirlooms, and personal treasures on display for all to see. What's worse, these beautiful possesions are intermingled with the junk and trash that you wouldn't take for free, let alone buy.

No one who buys the slightly used Buns of Steel video will ever know how Peggy worked at her figure. How she sweated for hours and cried and begged her husband to want her again.

No one who buys the juicer will know that its previous owner considered it a step in the right direction and a major accomplishment. They'll suppose she liked freshly squeezed orange juice and has since purchased an even better juicer, which she no doubt will.

And least of all will anyone know that selling his golf clubs is the last thing Bob wanted to do. Someone will come along and haggle his prized possession from him, talking him down from $30 or $20 to $10, driving that last bit of salt in the wound. They'll drive away thinking they got a great deal, happy there's such a thing as free market.

You'll forget that this is a cycle, and that you're part of it, too. You'll buy and buy until you have too much and you're living outside your means and you'll decide to get rid of the inferior possessions to make room for newer, cleaner, more expensive ones. You'll decide that rather than throwing these things away, you might as well try to make a quick buck off of them, so these things you once treasured will be put on your front lawn for all the world to see. And the cycle continues...

1This has been a nodeshell challenge, courtesy of getzburg.
2Marla Singer. Fight Club.
3Rampant mass consumerism is so evil. Hey, can I have a sip of that Frappucino?

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