OF NEWNESS AND PATINA
By Susan Orlins on February 16, 2012
I have these two nice quilted throw pillows on my bed; they used to be all smooth, marred only by a dot of black ink from when I dropped a pen on one. Then I washed the covers. They came out spanking white, but wrinkly.
The pillows now remind me of what I’d encounter at a really clean boarding house, like the one I stayed at when I was in my twenties and visited Saratoga Springs, where I went to bet id="mce_marker"0 and hang out with my buddy, a journalist, who wrote about horse racing with such success that his name became a verb.
I like the boarding house image of clean, unpretentious and used. Now that my quilted pillows are freshly-washed and well-worn looking, I favor them even more than when they were new and smooth.
I have a record of attraction to worn things. Before Kindle, back when I read paperback books, they appealed to me far more after I roughed them up with: dog-ears, notes in the margins and swollen pages from the times I read them in my hot tub.
Inanimate objects that show indications of wear represent history and take on lifelike dimensions. Regarding my books, most volumes reside on my shelves with spines unbroken. Because I am a slow reader, I have trouble getting into a story and often abandon a novel early on. Thus, those ragged books I’ve completed stand like trophies in my den.
Last year I wrote about my disdain for new clothes, so stiff and unfamiliar. And how relieved I feel when a new car gets its first ding, because I no longer need to worry about it getting its first ding.
People, too, acquire patina, don’t they? I apply my appreciation of patina to my face, especially to the crinkles around my eyes that signal how much I like to laugh. As for my jowls and everything else, well, I’m working on patina appreciation.
And take the case of those with whom you have or seek romantic relationships. My first boyfriend after my divorce was a journalist with crooked teeth, who could make good omelettes. After he and I parted, I was always on the lookout for someone new with crooked teeth (as well as a gift for scrambling eggs).
For as long as I can remember I’ve been attracted to what others might call imperfections, like chipped teeth and scars (case in point Howard Goldman, kindergarten, Samuel Gompers Elementary School, 1950).
And the relationships themselves acquire a worn aspect. When I first met my second ex, Steve, he didn’t like to go out to restaurants as much as I did. He preferred to stay home and read the paper. I barely read the paper.
Over the years with Steve, the paper became like a tantalizing confection, with which I now reward myself after a hard day of work. And I disdain restaurants.Funny thing is, though Steve still reads the newspaper, he seems to go out all the time.
What, if any, of my patina patter rings a bell with you?
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