First of all, thank you all for the lovely comments on the Pictures from Home post. I've more or less thanked everyone personally, but I'm still a bit overwhelmed (in a good way) at all the kind words that made winter here seem much, much warmer.
Secondly, and brace yourselves:
I know what you're thinking, so I'll just get right to it: Yes, I think that is an ACTUAL baby crocodile. No, it is not firsthand, I certainly would not buy firsthand skins or furs and I do not AT ALL condone killing of endangered/exotic animals for their furs or leathers or taxidermy (although I admit I have a double standard with the cow) and would not have bought this if it had not been neglected in a vintage shop.
Now that that's off my chest, a story. On our last night in town, Dhany and I were poncing around the unlikely neighbourhood of West Hampsted when we came upon a shop that I believe is called Social Industries.
It had a nice mix of new brands like Obey and vintage goods and pretty little necklaces and scrabble rings that were very charming, but nothing quite caught my eye, until, while waiting for Dhany to try on a pair of jeans, I spotted this bag. I may actually have squealed in horror upon seeing it, and then gingerly picked it up in my hands. It was unbelievable, what looked like a baby crocodile that had been posed as if its upper legs were resting on its belly.
It was quite simply the weirdest thing I had ever seen in my life. I held it in disbelief, trying to fathom what I had in my hands, when the very pleasant young lady behind the counter came up behind me and said, "I know, it's strange, isn't it? We've had it here for ages and everyone is quite shocked by it."
"Is it real?" I asked her, further stunned by the 12pound price tag. 12pounds? For a real crocodile? Being at the lower end of the income spectrum in life, I would not know a real leather from Adam, with the possible exception of snake.
"I don't know," she admitted. "A lady just came and gave it away. I believe it's from the '30s, but it looks real, doesn't it?"
Truly, it did. Dhany came out of the dressing room and I shocked him with the grisly find, but the truth was, I wasn't quite finding it so grisly any more. Instead, cradling it, I was in wonder at the fact that it had lasted so long, and I felt quite sad that it was now relegated to the corner of some shop where it was gasped at and ignored and surely, just wanted a home where it was going to be used and appreciated.
I imagined it sitting, dusty and forgotten in a corner of some rich woman's house as she disdainfully looked at it and sighed, "This old thing. Tsk. Wonder what I ever saw in it. It's surely bound for the Salvation Army."
And the longer Dhany wandered about looking at jeans, and the longer I walked up and down the shop holding the bag, the more and more oddly attached I grew to it, feeling, in my heart, that this poor little creature was somehow meant to be mine.
Have you ever had that feeling in shops? It's deadly for your wallet. I had it when I saw my camel-print circle skirt on Dear Golden Vintage and I know there's no going back.
The rest is history.
I've since brought it back to campus and had friends alternately ooh and gag over it, but I don't care. I've grown to appreciate the rich brown, the intricate series of clasps, the way the (fake?) leather feels in my hands and of course, how different and interesting it looks from anything I've ever owned.
I haven't used it yet, but when I finally carry it with a cute dress or skirt, whether people are grossed out and disturbed or not, I know I'll feel ridiculously happy, even if it's for the shallow, inexplicable reason that I've given a little, once-loved piece of art a new home.