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The Lip-Synching Mariachi Thrift Store Cowboy

November 12, 2007

I had the afternoon off this Saturday.

And I don’t mean just from work. It’s been a LONG time since I had an afternoon to myself… one that did not entail driving to the ends of the earth for swimming, therapy, basketball games, allergy shots, birthday parties, or anything else… one that did not feature me dropping onto the couch in an exhausted heap after living in the car from 7:30am to 2:30pm… one that did not single-handedly drive up the price of gas from the sheer volume of our consumption.

I was excited.

In my former life, I spent hours and hours on my weekend afternoons doing what my friend Heather calls “junkin'”. I must admit, I am a thrift store addict. Along the same lines as my addiction to Garage Sale bargain hunting, I find thrift stores almost irresistible, and I haven’t been to a single one since Memorial Day weekend!

There’s a required method to this thrift store shopping excursion, too. I used to try to sneak in an hour here and there. My Hubby used to come with me, but he would grow bored after the hour I had promised turned into two to three, and be unable to hang while I sifted and sorted through every rack in the place. He didn’t understand that I had a *need* to examine every single item on every single rack so that I could avoid missing out on that ONE bargain that might be whispering my name.

The kids? Same thing. I really need an uninterrupted four-hour block of time, so I have learned that I have to go ONLY when I can go alone, or with a similarly unencumbered girlfriend who has the thrift-store sickness, too.

So, I was alone. All set for hours and hours of delightful digging, hoping to find the bargain to end all bargains… or at least a cheap pair of jeans. I drove to the thrift store that’s close to our house. It’s not my favorite, but I can usually find some good stuff there. It was a Saturday, 50% off day, so the parking lot was packed, full of folks doing the same thing I was. Keep in mind that went with a specific goal in mind–to find the bargains of the century.

What I did not bargain for was that I would also get the laugh of a lifetime. If you’re familiar with thrift stores, you know that most are not high-end department stores. They’re a little grungy, tend to smell pervasively like mothballs, and they leave funky gray marks on your fingers from the hangers. While I love them with a passion, I always feel like I need to wash my hands afterwards. So you wouldn’t really expect that they would hire entertainment, like the piano guy at Nordstrom. Oh, but entertainment they HAD, right out in front.

I walked towards the entrance, the sound of Mariachi music thumping in my ears. I know that sounds funny, like maybe it should have been rap or something, but it was so loud that it was actually thumping. As I turned the corner to head inside, I saw the oldest, most sun-ripened gentleman, in a cowboy hat, tight jeans and boots, that I have ever seen playing Mariachi music. Come to think of it, I’ve never actually seen a guy like this playing Mariachi music. Most of the time, the Mariachi players have a suit with lots of sequins, and a big sombrero on. And there’s not usually just one of them.

So I paused, just for a moment, to take note of the big urn he had set conspicuously in front of him. Again, I know “urn” is an interesting choice of words. It wasn’t a Tip Jar, or a goldfish bowl, or an oversized vase. It wasn’t a basket, or a paper bag with the word “Tips” written in Sharpie on the side, or even a rusted coffee can. It didn’t fit any other kind of tip jar I’d ever seen. It was an urn… like the kind you put ashes in after someone has been cremated. And it was spray-painted gold… with little flecks missing here and there.

O… K…

So I turned a little bit more, right before I headed in the door, just because I thought his voice was really quite good. He turned towards me and smiled… and stopped singing… just for a second… while the voice of the Mariachi guy continued. It took my brain a second to process, but then I noticed that after he started singing again, the amplifier was pointed the other direction and the Mariachi guy’s voice was coming out of that. Even though this guy’s lips were still moving…

The sound was coming straight from the amplifier.

Surely it could not be. I had just come for an afternoon of cheap retail therapy and I got a whole show. A lip-synching old cowboy; lip-synching to Mariachi music in tight jeans, boots and a cowboy hat; with a funeral urn for a tip jar; in front of the neighborhood Thrift Store.

It was the biggest bargain of all. Cheap entertainment, a good laugh, and quite a few great new-to-me clothing items for less than $50. It was the best four hours I’ve spent in a long time. I felt light when I left. And the lip-synching, cowboy-boot wearing, Mariachi-music playing, funeral-urn tip-jar having guy was still going strong.

As I headed for my car, bags in hand, I dropped a couple of bucks in his urn and gave him a smile…

Just for making me laugh.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2007 11:00 am

    I am secretely a fan of thrift shops. Admittedly, I have a shirt that I paid a buck for 8 years ago that is my all time favorite summer shirt to throw on on the weekends. My favorite pair of shorts are thrift shop alumni. It’s interesting to spend time with freshly dry-cleaned family members in country clubs wearing my chic-ness. In fact, up till recently in my life I never thought that “Thrift Shop” had any sort of taboo linked to it….until… the fateful day when the kiddos came to our house the first time for a full summer and I innocently expected them to have packed bags in hand….this was the beginnings of my great learning experience. I shopped carefully at thrift shops for the coolest outfits to hurriedly dress these little bairns in, and much to my dismay, like a dog with a yucky bone, they rejected all of it. So, I go alone or with my sister who also has a love for the adventure! Sometimes I have to pack a snack to take along….

  2. November 12, 2007 12:23 pm

    I have never really been a fan of Thrift Store Shopping, or any kind of shopping for that matter. If you called me and asked me to go to the mall I would have to ask what it was that you were looking for, specifically. If you responded that you just wanted to go “shop” I would make some excuse not to go. I cannot stand wandering up and down aisles and in and out of stores in search of nothing in particular. Maybe there is a direct correlation between the amount of disposable income I have and my lack of enthusiasm for shopping.

  3. November 12, 2007 3:21 pm

    That’s great. The entertainment was well worth the couple of bucks!

  4. November 12, 2007 9:22 pm

    I have not really been a fan of thrift stores, but i LOVE flee markets. The difference? NO CLUE lol. Now, given the mood, I do love to browse everything…

    Glad you got some entertainment.. That must have been quiet the site to behold!

  5. November 13, 2007 8:27 am

    OMG! Hilarious!

  6. November 13, 2007 9:10 am

    OK now THAT was hilarious! I can just see it now… thanks for the great post and for bringing a smile to my face!

  7. November 13, 2007 2:28 pm

    You see with humor. That is good for us readers!

  8. goodwillswfl permalink
    November 28, 2007 7:07 am

    Great post. As someone who works for a thrift store thank you!!! Goodwill’s stores are relatively clean and neat with good dressing rooms (at least here in Southwest Florida).

  9. mich permalink
    December 1, 2007 7:46 am

    I’m too lazy to go out, lol. I search the web for a Bargains Directory instead.

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