Although I like to feign an ambivalence and superiority about having “stuff” and placing worth in objects; at my core, I think I am a very materialistic person. Now, people don’t like to throw out the “m” word unless it is used as a derogatory statement, and even fewer people would want to be called it. However, I will gladly call myself a materialistic person. I am materialistic. I love material things. Love them. So I realize that this probably evokes images of a a wealthy elitist. You are probably imagining that I am snotty and only wear brand name clothing or that I use my DVD collection as a status symbol within my group of friends. Maybe you think that I use dollar bills to light fires in my fireplace and take baths in champagne. Not true–I am not Scrooge McDuck and don’t swim in gold pieces. When I say I am materialistic, I mean this at the most basic level—I like material objects and have a desire to own them (although, after watching Hoarders, the number of possessions in my house has been cut back considerably). I think stuff is cool. And, if said stuff is old, then I am practically drooling over it—regardless of value (it could be worth $1 and I would love it just as much).
I remember going to auctions with my mom and just marveling at the items for sale. Boxes of books, old games, kitchen ware, and furniture sets would be displayed on the smooth concrete floor of the flower house in the local county fairgrounds. Other times, we would go to antique stores. These were like the Holy Grail of stuff for me (“You chose wisely”). Here, we could see all of the awesome pieces. Furniture with specific purposes (like a seat to take off your shoes and hang your hat), old glassware, yellowed maps, and dated decorations beckoned to me like sirens to sailors. To this day, I absolutely love going to auctions or antique stores. I soak it all in—I try to imagine the lives of the people who owned these items. Nine times out of ten, I don’t buy a thing; but I so love to go. I adore just looking at these things, this stuff. I am very much a materialistic person, and I am OK with that. It should be no surprise, then, that American Pickers is one of my new favorite shows.
If I had a dream job (aside from writing about my Netflix queue, of course), I would love to be a picker. Now, before I saw American Pickers, I didn’t even know what this was. According to AP, a picker is someone who is on the search for items to buy in order to sell at an antique store. Usually, the pickers travel the “back roads” of America, looking through barns, sheds, and old buildings for cool, old objects to purchase. I previously thought this lifestyle was just considered quirky, but after watching this show, I know better. Mike and Frank are two pickers who own an antique store in Iowa. Together, with their “home base” assistant, Danielle, they search out undiscovered treasures that are buried under layers of dust and cobwebs.
At this point, it’s fairly clear that I love the show. I do. I love the scenery. As Frank and Mike drive through the countryside on their pilgrimage, I am reminded of home. It makes me feel pleasantly nostalgic to see the drooping barns, the gravel roads, and the elderly farmers in their bib overalls. I am enthralled as they delve into the dilapidated buildings—as plumes of dust billow up I can almost smell the musty smell in the dark barns. I found myself holding my breath in hopes that they find something wickedly awesome in these forgotten places (OK, I will be the first to admit, I probably need to get out more if this is the most exciting thing I have watched in a while). I anxiously await to see what they pay for items and what they are valued at. Although, just to be a bit critical here, I would like to see more of the items actually appraised, and not just take Mike and Frank’s word on what they are worth.
American Pickers, being a History Channel show, offers additional information to place some of the items in historical context. Using the same technique as VH1’s Pop-Up Videos, American Pickers provides informative text and pieces of trivia as the show toodles along. While this isn’t entirely necessary, I actually find these tidbits interesting and helps put the item into perspective.
If I had to say what American Pickers was missing, it would be the restored items. In the show, the two pickers explain that often, collectors want to restore the items themselves (which may be one reason why the audience is rarely shown the finished product). However, I want to see what these dusty, dirty items look like once they are returned to their original glory. Just think of it as an Extreme Makeover for junk and antiques.
So, being the materialistic person that I am; I adore this show. I daydream about finding cool stuff in barns. I know that being a picker is probably not as much fun as it looks to me on this show. I can tell it is a lot of work for an uncertain income. And I am sure it would be frustrating to look through several people’s barns to find nothing. But a materialistic girl can dream, can’t she?
Until next time! Enjoy your day!
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