Thoughts on Collecting Things

This weekend I went to Baltimore Comic Con.  I don’t collect comic books nor do I know anything about them.  I had found a handful of raggy comic books in a thrift store last week, and it sparked the possibility of a new love affair.  I could love comic books.  I could collect them, yes.  However, after attending Comic Con, I’m breaking it off. 

It’s not the comics.  Those are great– those slim volumes, drawn by hand, inky hues of red and yellow and blue.   It’s the people.  It’s the ones that showered especially for this occasion and came out of their lairs.  They have no sense of space.  They have no equilibrium.  They do not walk; rather, they oaf, elbows-out, mouths-open.  And some of the more clever ones wear capes.

I stuck to the dollar boxes.  I wasn’t looking for the first appearance of Spiderman or anything.  Now and then I’d hear someone near me gasp at a table, pulling out some numbered issue they needed.   It would be endearing when it was the little kids digging through the boxes, pulling out wow, Batman, but mostly it was thirtysomethings flipping through every box on the table methologically, coming down the table like a train, and if I happened to be in their way, they would stand on top of me, mouth-breathing, waiting to get in that box.   I would be embarrassed being in their way, holding in my hand some worthless, stupid, girl comic, something like, oh, Real Ghostbusters’ Slimer.

Okay, that is a girl comic. It’s pink and Slimer is holding a canary. But look at him. He’s pretty damn cute, right? I kept the cover turned around, scared I might be looked down on by geeks. Sigh. I’m just not made for comic book collecting. Oh yeah, there were artists and panels and maybe a famous comic book writer was there too. I dunno. I skipped out early to have quesadillas for lunch. As I was walking out, I saw a woman in a trenchcoat, glasses, and sporting a mousy ponytail, with two huge bags of Harry Potter action figures, gushing over them, and she said, “I didn’t say I was going to keep them all in the boxes.”

But look, I’m not knocking on these people, or looking down on them. I am in no place to judge. I’ve been collecting things my entire life. Some medically inclined people call this hoarding. My first collection was business cards. I wasn’t yet tall enough to reach the counters where they kept them, but I’d ask my parents to get a business card for me, and I’d put it in my photo album. It was a pretty sad collection. Buddy Johnson, the car salesman’s business card, or John Atkins, the manager of the Little Caesar’s Pizza. Sometimes I’d take three or four copies of a business card just to pad my collection.

I moved onto trading cards, to Michael Jackson memorabillia, to records. And now I’m collecting toys, but I have always collected something. And there were a lot of things I tried to collect, but failed. Like rocks, most kids have a stint where they collect interesting-looking rocks because they are so easily obtained. I even tried collecting comic books. I always felt insecure about it however. I wasn’t interested in the cooler X-Men or Spiderman. I knew the Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers comic book in my hand was lame from the way the clerk looked at me as I shamefully handed him a wadded three dollars.

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