Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hand-Me-Downs to the Third-World

Sometimes while I'm watching the news on TV and they are reporting from a third world country, I'll see ordinary folks wearing the most unexpected clothes. It might be a farmer in Africa wearing an "I Heart NY" shirt or an Indonesian disaster victim wearing a "DisneyWorld" shirt. Where do those clothes come from and how did they get there?

Since moving to a third-world country, I have discovered the answer to this mystery. At least in Micronesia, these clothes are the cast-offs of American Christians! When they are done shirt-bragging to the world of their vacation on St. Croix, they stick the shirt in a bin and ship it off to folks who will never see DisneyWorld, New York City or St. Croix.

Here on Pohnpei, we have SuperSavers, our Christian second-hand clothing store. While burrowing through mounds of t-shirts, I have the pleasure of listening to recordings of mind-numbing "praise" music, translated into Pohnpeian and accompanied by a soulless Casio keyboard. Thank you, all ye American Christians, for spicing up my wardrobe with, among other things, a smoking jacket (!) and a bowling shirt from the Chinese Catholic Club of Honolulu! So far I've resisted the temptation to buy the snowmobile suit ... hmm.

On one recent excursion to SuperSavers, I uncovered a perfectly good, full-sized American flag among the potholders and underwear. I've never owned an American flag, so I bought it for a dollar. There must be something symbolic about finding a US flag in a heap of hand-me-downs in a third-world second-hand store. Perhaps some fundamentalist in the US has become disillusioned with the country? Perhaps it is symbolic of how the US has tossed aside its pride and respectability? Who knows. But now this flag is a curtain in my bedroom. I'm getting tired of looking at it, though.


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