My wife’s obsessed with antiques. I’m pretty sure I’ve already written about how she spends hours in antique shops wherever we travel. I hate to make sweeping statements, but there’s one position I just have to take: There is nothing more boring than wasting hours in an antique shop if you’re not into antiques. My wife goes on and on with the shop owner using insider antique lingo for no particular reason while I putter around the store, yawning, looking at items I have no interest in looking at, asking myself how such a dirty plate could be this expensive.
It’s different than going to a lingerie store (which I don’t) in that you can look wherever you want without feeling embarrassed. That’s the one saving grace of an antique shop. Still, it’s interminably boring.
I felt an ominous premonition when we entered the antique store in Kyoto. The old woman tending shop had a creepy look in her eyes. She looked like the witch in Handsel and Gretel. Her ghostly presence tinged the air. It was like she lived deep in the forest in a home made of rice flour crackers and pickled beets. “I’ll hang back,” I decided. “Doesn’t seem like there’s anything worth looking at anyway.”
But my boredom got the best of me. I’ve picked up more antiques knowledge than I realize from being around my wife, and there was this one plate right in front of me. “It’s probably from the late 19th century and the design isn’t half bad,” I mumbled to myself. I drew closer to it (why didn’t I stop!) and picked it up, looking it over. Just then I felt a zinging electric sensation down my back. No sooner did I become aware of this unpleasant feeling than my hand slipped and the plate fell to the floor, shattering to pieces.
“It’s no problem,” the old woman cackled through a smile. “Don’t worry yourself over it. What’s broken is broken.” But her eyes told a very different story. Her mouth smiled, but her eyes did not. There are many who can perform this peculiar, loaded laugh in Old Kyoto. Reluctantly I paid for it, including the nine other plates that it had come bundled with in a set. I had to do it.
I got a good scolding from my wife later that day. “Why’d you do that?”
“But but but… it was telekinesis!” I insisted. “The old woman shocked me with an electric wave and made me drop it!”
Of course she didn’t go along with it. We still use those nine plates around the house. And they’re not half bad… but that’s besides the point.