I've never been one to turn down something free.
It's in my blood. My dad, a man who never drinks alcohol, is such a fan of anything free that he cannot be taken to open-bar weddings because he otherwise would end up attempting to crowd-surf the processional. It's the same reason he has been asked on more than one occasion not to return to a buffet restaurant — and why the shed is full of broken, unmatched tchotchkes for possible future projects. When it comes to free, there can be no quantity control. If it's free, the answer is always yes.
I am not a hoarder. My dream in life is to live in a Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia full time. My husband is at risk of losing me to any man who offers to whisk me away to a home no larger than 200 square feet. Even more so if that minimalist Fabio whispers in my ear, "And I don't have anything in storage." Pure chills.
I don't engage in retail therapy; I engage in trash day therapy. Beep beep beep, that baby backs up; I love to watch it lift and dump.
But even though I don't go looking to own, if something free is offered to me, I can't say no. Sure, that pizza has been sitting out all day in 107-degree heat, but you're offering it to me free, so... Sure, your kid with strep throat just hacked into the bowl of ice cream you are now offering me, but it's free, so... Sure, those dollar-store sunglasses don't have any lenses anymore, but you're offering them to me free, so...
And this is how I have recently become the owner of a 60-pound broken, rusted chandelier. But unlike the free stuff I usually acquire, this one I love.
I'm not typically a chandelier person. Though there is something to marvel at in the grand rooms of Las Vegas, the general opulence makes me uncomfortable. But this beast looks as if it came from a different time — as if it stepped straight out of "The Phantom of the Opera." And the rust and broken glass only feed into that image.
To be fair, when you get something free, it's usually because the giver doesn't want to deal with the consequence of eating the day-old pizza or the hacked-on is-that-caramel-or-is-that-phlegm sundae or the self-blinding of using broken sunglasses. But I'm pretty sure the only possible negative consequence of owning the chandelier is bad juju. When I walked away from the photography studio I had acquired it from during a going-out-of-business sale, the photographer said, "Just make sure you get it before it gets you." Uh, sure. Whatever that means.
Since I brought it home, four burly men have tried to lift it, and four burly men have had their arms slashed open by the broken glass. When my friend was trying to hang it on a tree in my backyard, it swung back and knocked him off his ladder. And now that it is positioned on the tree — hanging over a picnic table by the lake — I have seen, on two separate occasions, a snake slithering across and around its chain.
My husband hates it. He says it's creepy. Haunted, even. But he seems to be forgetting the important fact that it was free. Sure, we may have welcomed what could turn out to be a portal to the netherworld into our yard, but at least we didn't have to pay for it. I bet there are folks at this very moment engaging in some really expensive demon seances. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had to move to the opening in the earth that spewed out its wretched and terrible demons. We got our bad-juju bringer at a bargain!
I like it. I've strung the rusted, broken beast of a chandelier with solar lights that make it light up at night. During the day, it sways proudly from our biggest tree, making for a romantic scene with the table beneath. But you may want to compliment the chandelier before you sit under it. Tell it that it's pretty or something — lest all 60 pounds of it fall on your head, possibly bringing the tree down with it.
Hey, at least I didn't have to pay for the thing that may send someone to the hospital.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.