I tell myself we already have too much stuff and we don't need one more thing. (It seems we always need more postcards, however, although I often get the misguided impression that we have enough of those, too.)
But my attitude is silly and wrong. At Brimfield there are many hundreds of dealers selling acres of antiques, vintage items, and crafts. Everybody over the age of 4 is buying, selling, or both. If everyone thought as I did, the whole fair, and maybe the town itself, would collapse and die a horrible economic death. So it's our moral and fiscal duty to not leave empty-handed — just as when we visit an independent bookstore.
Besides, I love antiques, and I only have an opportunity to see so many once or twice a year. While I often do come away empty-handed, it's not for lack of trying. As I quietly roam the fields, I keep an eye out for The Perfect Thing.
The Perfect Thing is antique, unusual, beautiful, and it "speaks" to me, telling me I can't live an entirely happy life without it. Ideally it serves some useful purpose, fits easily in our car and our apartment, and is a good price.
As you can see, it's the marble keystone or ornament from a Victorian mantel; I was calling it an "escutcheon" before I realized that's not what it is. (I just like saying "escutcheon." You might, too — try it.) Some people call these "medallions," but I think those ought to be round or oval. It looks like common Vermont marble to me, but what do I know? I thought it was interesting, and I also felt sorry for it, the rest of its mantel, and the room it was torn from.
Finding The Perfect Thing became much harder after Harris arrived. I can't go antiquing now without automatically envisioning Harris destroying whatever it is I'm looking at. He likes to knock things on the floor and he's good at it. He's ambidextrous. The other day I caught him trying to push a very large, heavy antique pressed-glass canister off the kitchen counter, and we had words. I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect that he is figuring out how to use his shoulders to move heavier things.
So I don't bring home fragile items from Brimfield now. Even silver dents when it hits the floor. Ask me how I know. But this struck me as eminently Harris-proof:
Knowing our luck, if I didn't get it, we'd end up buying some pathetic mess of an "updated" Victorian condo with no ornament left on its wrecked marble mantel, and I'd be kicking myself for all eternity.
It weighs a ton, so I told the dealer I'd return to buy it later, although chances were excellent that I'd get lost trying to find her shop. I'm usually hopelessly lost at Brimfield, but it doesn't matter unless I want to go back and buy something after thinking about it for a few hours and miles. The place is HUGE, every field looks similar, and my global navigation system is often tied up in the Postcard Barn.
The dealer gave me her card, looked me carefully in the eye, and told me, slowly, the name of the field she was in, to look for that name on a black sign from the road, and to go to the very end of the first row. I felt like a 5-year-old — a 5-year-old faced with a challenging task. She also told me about a Brimfield app with maps and dealer locations and so on. I have to get it before the next show.
Her carefulness worked. I walked my husband right to the keystone at the end of our day, and he liked it, too, He lugged it to the car. I have it on our living room mantel, mainly to tease Harris. When I tire of it there, I'll find another spot for it. It will make a nice doorstop, for one thing.
It could also serve as the mother of all paperweights. I need a massive one because Harris likes to throw my papers on the floor and chase the smaller scraps under furniture. The other day, Lion retrieved one with the name and number of an archivist I've been trying to reach by fiddling with his paw under a bookcase. We both knew who put it there.