Saturday, October 05, 2013
Years ago I used to write a regular newspaper feature on people and their collections. Among the memorable: a good-natured guy who collected urinals, a sweet woman with an awe-inspiring collection of interesting teapots, and the man in Westlake who became an expert in big mechanical music boxes.
Some of my ambitious colleagues regarded this as a waste of time and newsprint. (Newsroom types aren't shy about sharing their views.) I'll admit that this astonished me at first. I'd always loved feature stories, and in a way, the less event-oriented and the more personal-story oriented they were, the better. You can learn a lot about someone through the objects that attract him. Our stuff becomes, in a way, a portrait of our selves.
Eventually, even I tired of the series, though, because I started seeing a common theme. In many cases, folks who were really obsessive about certain types of collections were clearly -- even admittedly -- trying to fill some endless need. There was a difference between those who casually acquired interesting objects and the more hard-core types, who tended to have disciplined and impressive collections. The hard-core types began to seem, to me at least, a bit damaged. Every story started to sound the same.
Clearly, I'm a collector, too, though in neither a disciplined nor obsessive way. And I'd like to think that the stuff around my house says something good about the people who live here. I leave you to your own conclusions.