Never Buy a Bookshelf from a Pawn Shop

Five years ago, we bought a very old house that has a lot of character. When I say that it has character, what I really mean that it needs a lot of attention. When I say “attention”, what I really mean is “repairs”. In addition to needing a lot of fixing up, most old houses suffer from a serious lack of storage space. Our kitchen, for example, has barely enough cupboard space to store a salt shaker.

One day, my husband and I decided that enough was enough. We needed a place to put our cooking supplies (when I say “cooking supplies”, what I really mean is “my husband’s cooking supplies and my boxes of macaroni and cheese”). We were driving through the very worst area of town, when we saw a bookshelf for sale in front of a pawn shop type of business. The gentleman (I use the term loosely) who owned the store (I use that term loosely as well) assured us that the shelf was handcrafted by Mennonites out of the finest and most expensive wood. Well, we might not be the brightest crayons on the block (get it?), but we’re also not stupid. Regardless, desperate for more storage space, we pretended that, yes, pine is very fine and very expensive, so could we please buy that shelf. We paid the man (being the gentleman that he was, he took cash only, of course) and we loaded up our new treasure.

As a side note, let me just say that after I scrubbed things like squashed bugs (complete with blood spatters … GROSS!) off of the shelf, it looked very nice indeed … and very ready to house our foodstuffs.

Of course, only a childless couple would buy an open bookshelf upon which to store cooking supplies. Fast forward a few years. Enter my daughter.

My daughter is particularly mischievous. I know that a lot of toddlers are trouble, but she is trouble with a capital “T” … and a capital “R” … and a capital “O” … and, well, you get the point. I have no clue where she gets it from. Really. I don’t. It clearly must run in her father’s side of the family, because I was always a little angel. Always. (You’re not reading this, right Mom?)

Recently, my daughter has discovered an amazing ability. She can unscrew lids. Suddenly, nothing is sacred. And her favourite new past time? Grabbing the the spice bottles off of our handcrafted-by-Mennonites shelf, taking the lids off, and emptying them out on the floor. Of course, she doesn’t just dump them. That would be too boring. She dances around with the open bottles, waving them with incredible grace and flair, watching in awe as spices float through the air like confetti and land all over the dining room.

The first time she did this, I was in the kitchen making dinner (okay, okay … by “dinner”, I mean a box of mac and cheese). When I peeked into the dining room and saw her dancing with the basil, I almost had a heart attack.

Being the calm sort of person that I am, I yelled, “WHAT ON THE EARTH ARE YOU DOING, YOU LITTLE BUM???”

With a cheerful smile, my daughter looked at me, proudly pointed to the floor, and said, “Mess!” Then she ran into the kitchen and grabbed the broom.

I smacked her bottom soundly, cleaned up the mess myself, and returned to my, er, cooking. A few minutes later, I peeked in again. There was Evelyn, dancing around with the marjoram, green flakes softly falling like snow. Once again, I disciplined her and cleaned up.

During dinner preparations the next day, she got into the Mrs. Dash. And then it was the marjoram again.

The day after that, having finally realized that emptying the spice jars equals discipline, Evelyn decided to move on to something much more fun and challenging. She figured out how to open the cookie tins.

The moral of the story? Never buy a bookshelf from a pawn shop. It only leads to trouble.

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