"I love this thing. Please tell me where it came from, how you acquired it, what you know of its history." I get these requests all the time. I sell antique furniture and while most transactions, most customers, are quick and easy, there are others who want to be courted.
It isn't that they want to know before
they've purchased the piece. They always ask for the story after the fact. It's bought, it's paid for, and then they want more.
"Where did you find it," "tell me about its former home." I look back at my ad information and it's all there. French c. 1880s, art nouveau, oak, container purchase. It's there, but they need more than black and white words in a sales listing.
They prefer "French, from the late 1800s, purchased at an estate auction just outside of Paris. Hand picked by a lifelong collector who's only in business because he loves antiques. Packed snugly in a container for shipping before crossing the Atlantic and making its way up the wide Mississippi from the Port of New Orleans."
They don't want to hear of the stinking pollution of the shipyard at the Port of Houston, or the grubby nastiness of the containers arriving reeking of chemicals used to kill insects. They don't want to know that the furniture is bought in bulk by pickers in Europe, that the pickers have no more interest in a particular piece than I have in what shoes you're wearing. It's business, purely, but I'm not in the business of selling furniture as much as I'm in the business of selling romance.
Romance, that elusive, don't-look-at-me-or-I'll-vanish feeling that a certain type of person will experience in certain situations. I say "type of person" as if I'm detached from that, but I am one. I'm one of those seduced by the romance of living, the feeling I get watching the sun rise over the lake on a summer morning, or dancing in the moonlight on a crisp autumn night.
I am captivated by the romance of ordinary life, of my home and the things in it, of the way the sun comes through the stained glass and spills across the floor. Romance is going to sleep in my mother's mahogany four poster piled high with featherbeds and down comforters. Romance is sharing an early morning moment with my sweetheart in the garden as the seeds are sprouting tender green and that moist heavy feeling's in the air.
If you are like me, you can find yourself enchanted, bewitched by the scent of a cup of coffee, by the look of the cream swirling into the dark of it. You may stop your car on a city street in fall, jumping out to stand beneath the sublime crimson glow of a sugar maple in the afternoon sun. Maybe you are mesmerized by the foam wash of waves hitting the beach, by the smoky nightclub sound of a jazz saxophone.
Are you this way? I am, despite such desperate times. And from my customers, I'm getting these requests more often of late. I wonder if people are looking inward, to the small, splendid moments of life closer to home, to the seduction of the spirit which will invariably occur if we stop for just a moment and really pay attention to the world around us.
My people, my customers, they want to be seduced and so I tell them stories. Does it hurt anything in the end? I never tell tales about country of origin or age, that would be terrible and the romance of it isn't in the facts after all. But does it matter, when they want a little fantasy, if I spin an enchanting tale?
I reassure myself that it's okay because the world's dangerously short on romance these days. My story doesn't make the sale, it only adds a little after the fact, a little lagniappe
, as my Louisiana friend used to say. It's like gift wrap and a ribbon: the gift is unchanged, but the experience is enriched just the same.
Labels: 30 day writing assignment, feeling alive, gifts, lagniappe, romance, seduction