(Note: I’m immersed in police procedure this week, so this column is recycled from a few years ago. I hope it still makes you laugh)
Kate Flora: I’m a confirmed Craigslist junkie. Have been since my students first told me about it. I have a Craigslist couch. A Craigslist coffee table. A Craigslist desk chair. But as a measure of the culture’s pulse, one only has to spend a little time on Craigslist to confirm something we old farts have known for a while: that sometimes the next generation, the computer-savvy, e-mailing, text-messaging generation, often presents as functionally illiterate. Whole rafts of them are out there selling products—often products that I, after working for more than thirty years, can’t afford—yet they cannot spell the names of the things they’re trying to sell. (I don’t think most of these can be blamed on the bane of our existence: autocorrect)
There are, for example, a lot of people out there who are trying to sell their lamps, wine racks, bookshelves, and coffee tables made of a material called rot iron. It doesn’t sound very appealing to me; nor does it sound very stable. Especially when I’m invited to purchase a queen sized bed made out of rot iron. Hardly sounds like it would last through one galloping good marital session. Some of them have items made out of rod iron. A little less unpleasant. One aspiring seller even told me that rod has generally replaced wrought as the proper term. I expect if I inquired of the rest, they’d tell me, as they learned in elementary school phonetic spelling, that as long as they can be understood, it’s fine.
Just as the roadsides everywhere are littered with discarded plastic water bottles, the homes, condos and apartments in the Boston area seem to be littered with small, round, dish-shaped chairs. These Papasan chairs are referred to, by Craigslisties, as Papusums, conjuring up small, ratlike nocturnal animals, papazums, papazans, papasams, and a whole host of other spellings. Every day, between three and ten are offered for sale. Sometimes with ottomans. Ottamuns. Attomans. Attumans. We live, it seems, in the papasan and ottoman empire. One thing is clear–even if their owners don’t know what they’re called–there are enough of them out there that if they banded together, they could take over the world.
Often, Craigslist consumers are invited to purchase products that seem to have lives of their own. One might become the next owner of an “antic MIT desk” for only $100.00. If you are interested in floor level interactions, there are rugs from Central Anatolia where the sizes, colors and motives vary. In a house where the desk is antic and the rugs have motives, you might want to be very careful about also acquiring a Craftsman 10” radio alarm saw. It’s hard enough to get up in the morning without so much worry and commotion.
Perhaps you’re new in town and trying to set up an apartment. Craigslist is the place to go. Everything a homeowner needs is available. Imagine becoming the proud owner of the following: carpet, table, lamp, dust bean, wardrove, dubei, etc. You could augment this with plates, glasses, cuttery, and tones of tuber-wares. Then finish that place by acquiring a “burrow, with attached mirror.” Maybe a house like that would be the perfect place for a Japanies stile bad or, if you’re looking for a more adventurous bad, you might get the queen bed with mattress and hotspring. You could trick this place out with three large droors and that breakfast tray where “one leg needs fixation.”
Some of these household furnishings really do have promise. I was extremely tempted by the “Beautiful White Amour.” I thought it would go nicely in my room where I’ve already placed “very Sheik Slate Top Teak Furniture.” But suppose the amour and the sheik didn’t get along? Would I have to break out my “whine glasses from Pottery Barn?”
Sometimes, dear reader, things do just get too personal. Who would feel comfortable brushing their teeth next to the 24” wide bathroom vanity assembly with sink bowel top included? Or, for that matter, buying Rover that Self-Feeding Dog Bowel? It’s all too much for me. I’ve passed, as well, on the seller who promoted her wares by saying, “This would be nice to have in a nursery if you have a girl instead of a glider.” Honestly, if I gave birth to a glider, no amount of nice furniture could comfort me. Indeed, the idea of these dangerous products is enough to send me to my “armoir, closeth or wardrove” where I’m going to put on my White Petty Coat (formerly the property of a navy man, perhaps) and go out for some air.
Author’s note: Despite my amazing collection of Craigslisties, I have gotten some lovely things from Craigslist, and I’ve met some splendid people, and collected great stories, in my travels.