Tuesday, October 31, 2006

4 Unique Collections and the Stories Behind Them

by Deborah Rosalind Nieto

Since I was about 5 years old, I started collecting hair accessories and stationeries. As I got older, I would use my hair accessories in every occasion even if it meant wearing them on my head all at the same time. People often turned to me to borrow a single ponytail, clip or whatever hair remedy they needed. As for the stationeries, I still have vivid memories of trading some of my collection with other stationery collectors.

While I have graduated from the stationery craze, I have found that I'm no longer the hair guru to whom people run to borrow ponies or clips. Actually it came as a shock to me that my precious chest no longer holds a collection, but, instead, ruins of a golden era in my life. Alright, I'm exaggerating. But it is true that the only remnants of my collection are a few good pieces and some which are seeming rejects from an accessories shop. Thanks to those people who never cared to return what they have borrowed from me. Thanks, too, to my lack of care for my belongings that I would suddenly find an old monkey ponytail in a grimy bookshelf in our garage. Anyway, I decided to take up a different collection. I figured that since I have this great fondness for skirts, I should start collecting them. At least they won't age or wear without being useful.

As I commemorate my childhood collections, I can't help but wonder about the collections that some people in my life have chosen to own. Here are those unique collections and the stories behind them.


1st Collection: Paper napkin

Collector: My cousin

The story behind it: First, let's give my cousin an alias. Well, basing on her fondness for paper napkins, I suppose Restopapyrushoarder is most appropriate. Well, Restopapyrushoarder started collecting napkins when she was about 15 years old. Unfortunately, to the horror of any human being, and to the greater horror of a collector, their apartment got burned, toasting her unrivaled collection to a black crisp. From a precious memorabilia of past dining experiences, they quickly turned to part of a shelter's ruins, not to mention forensic investigators' sample.

Despite the frustration Restopapyrushoarder felt for the loss of hundreds of her precious papyrus, she decided to restart her collection. From fast food chains to 5-star hotels, her paper napkins come literally from various origins.

The bright side: Apart from providing a collection, Restopapyrushoarder's paper napkins make for a great reminder of various experiences. A paper napkin of an airline, for instance, may call to mind a terrible turbulence onboard. A Japanese restaurant's napkin may be a souvenir from a nice adventure of the taste buds. All these are true except that Restopapyrushoarder has never set foot in an airplane, nor does she have the slightest appetite for Japanese food. You see, this kind of collection allowed her to leverage herself. Without having to dine in various eating establishments or check in the most posh hotels, she simply requests her relatives and friends to get a napkin for her anywhere they go. This way, it frees her of possible guilt she may feel from paying for a $100 meal just to get that much coveted napkin.

Downside: Well, this may be costly if you try to take on this collection without using the power of parasitism-- err I mean leverage. Also, basing on the qualities of paper, I have a theory that my cousin Restopapyrushoarder may have problems in the future about preserving her memorabilia as an heirloom for her descendants.

You see, I have recently heard of discussions about preventing precious documents made of paper from being too acidic or further damaged. Perhaps it would be a great idea for Restopapyrushoarder to purchase those paper-saving-liquid formulas selling in the market nowadays. And while she's at it, she could consider purchasing a fireproof glass chest for her papyrus collection.

2nd Collection: Board games and card games

Collector: One of my good friends a.k.a. Gameusfreakus

The story behind it:

Gameusfreakus embarked on his game collection journey when he was 13 years of age. Like most high school students belonging to the male species, he had a fondness for games which eventually turned to addiction. Video games, card games, board games, name it, he makes them part of his daily diet. However, he became even more interested in card games since they were the handiest. The first kind of game cards he got addicted to was Magic game cards, which he played with his friends and classmates. Then, to try other games with different mechanics and concepts, he started to acquire other more card games.

While constantly practicing his gaming rituals with friends, Gameusfreakus got enthralled by the mysteries posed by the movie The Matrix. This pushed him to search the web for a card game which is similar to the said film's theme. While unfortunately, he didn't find one close enough to the concept of The Matrix, he developed a habit of searching for various board and video games on the web. Discovering other more interesting games, he later added board games to his card game collection and the rest is history. Now every year, on his birthday celebration, Gameusfreakus makes it a point to invite his friends over and let them play his games as he acts as the overall moderator.

Bright side: Obviously, besides serving as a collection, Gameusfreakus' games provide for a great venue for socialization and an interesting way to analyze other people's behaviors. For instance, a guy who bangs his head on the table every time he makes a bad move in a game may give you a hint that he's utterly disturbed and, therefore, must be avoided. A lady who remains her poise despite consecutive losses may either have a praiseworthy calmness or a callous limbic system.

Another advantage of having a game collection is there is no way that your guests would become bored while hanging out with you. You even become their ultimate game guru as how Gameusfreakus' friends see him.

Downside: This hobby is definitely costly except if you were a grandson of a game shop owner. Well, Gameusfreakus happens to be financially challenged like most of us. But this, in my opinion, is something he has turned into an advantage since you can expect him to study each game's angles to know if it's worth every penny. Upon knowing that a game won't give him a financial headache, he spends his well-earned money on a game worth adding to his collection.

Another downside in becoming a game collector is that you cannot fully appreciate your collection by placing them in shelves and admiring them from afar. You need to play them and unfortunately, in Gameusfreakus' case, he has to be around other human beings to be able to experience the full benefit of each of his games.

3rd Collection: Barbie's clothes

Collector: Another friend I know a.k.a. R2Design2

The story behind it: Well, due to discrepancies in our schedules, I haven't seized the chance to ask R2Design2 as to the events leading to her chic obsession. Yet basing on the fact that she comes from a family of artists, mostly women at that, she may have found that channeling her artistic tendencies to clothes may best extract her creative juices. Then, she couples this talent with the desire to design fashionable clothes for the women in her clan, that is, in a less costly way--by making Barbie her mannequin or, simply, a guinea pig.

Well, whatever may be R2Design2's reasons for collecting Barbie's clothes, I must say that it is one fun and artistic collection. Mind you, R2Design2 does not merely acquire one Barbie outfit after another; she actually creates her own Barbie's clothes by hand. Not that she lives in the Stone Age or is planning to mutate into a Stepford wife, but art really is her ultimate passion. I have a theory that when she was a newborn baby, R2Design2 didn't crave for her mother's milk, but instead, bawled for paint brushes and pastel crayons to study their physics in preparation for her art-riddled journey.

Up to this day, there is no confirmed news as to whether R2Design2 plans to create clothes for Bratz dolls or not. With the popularity of Bratz dolls among little girls, should R2Design2 decide to create clothes for them, she may turn her simple hobby to a profitable living.

Bright side: Besides the creativity fostered in R2Design2 by making her own collection, she may experiment by making miniature versions of clothes she wants to wear herself. This is less costly to make and although she ends up hating the product of her work, she does not have to feel guilty with the wasted clothing as Barbie may still slip it on.

Also, the activity of making Barbie's clothes may teach R2Design2 to recycle materials such as scraps of cloth, beads, threads and other materials which may be used for clothing. As a fashion designer wannabe, making these clothes is even more useful to her since she gets to hone her skills and think up of better ideas for later projects. Her collection itself may serve as her portfolio when finding a company to work for.

Downside: Well, sooner or later, R2Design2 may run out of scraps of cloth to use for her projects. It is definitely not practical to buy a whole yard of cloth just for Barbie's clothing. I guess she has to know the right sources from which she may buy or ask for scraps of cloth. Also, as absurd as it may sound, this collection adds up to her pile of laundry every week. That is assuming that she washes her collection regularly.

4th Collection: Bones of animals

Collector: My previous student a.k.a. Goryhandsstuffynose

The story behind it: Goryhandsstuffynose does not actually collect the entire skeletal system of each animal he encounters. He only keeps those bones he gets from his food. Say, for instance, he eats chicken soup tonight, he keeps the chicken bones straight from his dish.

Goryhandsstuffynose's reasons for starting this unthinkable collection may be weird, but I could only wish I know them. Let's just hope he thinks of animal rights before considering to debone his own dog.

Bright side: Well, besides being a cheap hobby, the only advantage I see in this collection is that Goryhandsstuffynose probably looks forward to every meal he eats, except, of course, if no bones are present in the dish or he has already that part of that certain animal's skeletal system. Oh, there's another possible advantage of this collection. Goryhandsstuffynose may scare even the toughest guys away by saying with all conviction that he is a bone collector.

Downside: I don't know exactly how Goryhandsstuffynose preserves his biodegradable collection but I'm sure he's going through so much trouble. I have no idea if he should worry about the bones getting extremely brittle sooner or later, or mind the horrible thought that some household pests may devour his collection should he fail to give the bones a proper container.

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