We’ve added a few pieces to the curiosity cabinet since that inaugural late summer day when I learned that press board is weaker than Champaign bottles. Again, I’d like to emphasize that this is a casual hobby for me (and don’t think I don’t know how damning the phrase “casual hobby” is). I don’t necessarily go out of my way to find items to add to the cabinet. I just kind of get them. And I say that out of abject fear that you will judge my collecting acumen and find me wanting.
So, in my continuing quest to attempt to atone for years of collecting mass market silliness, here’s what I’ve found fascinating enough in the past few months to shove into a cabinet and forget about:
Budweiser Clydesdale Ribbon
This came into the collection as a result of my wife and daughter visiting the stables one day while I was at work. They met a caretaker who invited them on an impromptu tour behind the scenes and then gave the ribbon to my daughter as a souvenir. I’m pretty sure he was hitting on my wife, but that’s totally worth it to get this ribbon into the cabinet.
Christiani’s Vegetable Worm Syrup Bottle
According to the label, the syrup is for the “eradication of worms in children and adults.” The bottle has a stopper, but it’s degraded over time so that whatever was inside has evaporated, leaving a disgusting and somehow simultaneously aesthetically pleasing black residue all over the interior.
I couldn’t find anything about this company in the two seconds of research I did online, so all I know is what’s on the bottle, that it hails from D.C., and that its product is guaranteed by them under the Food and Drugs Act, June 30, 1906. And even though the company doesn’t appear online, the snake oil that is worm syrup does. And my Google history is now repulsive.
I got the botle from my mother-in-law, who picked it up at a junk shop and then gave it to me when she saw my interest. Why I would want such a thing is obvious, but I’m a little bit suspicious why something like this would catch her fancy.
Anyway, while I was down South Carolina way, I nabbed a clump from a cemetery. This one. Figured the dead wouldn’t miss it. Although a quieter, wiser part of my brain knows that one of them has been clawing its way up the East Coast ever since my theft to wreak terrible vengeance on me. But life’s already a ticking clock, so the joke’s on him.
Boneyard Beach Shell
Of course, it wasn’t until I got home and looked at my pictures that I saw the sign posted that prohibited such an act. Some day the mountain might get me, but the law never will.
Black Widow Carcass
This addition to the cabinet is courtesy of the sandbox in my nieces’ and nephew’s backyard, so I guess this story could have had a real unhappy ending. And yes, a dead black widow in a Tupperware container in my living room is my definition of a “happy ending.” For the record, I had an awesome joke here that my wife made me take out.
Also for the record, I consider this a practice black widow, as whatever lessons I learn from preserving it will go into doing a better job on the next one. And there will be a next one.
I didn’t hold onto it on purpose. It just kept popping up. I’d find it while mowing the lawn and toss it to the side. Or see it in the bushes while hunting for black widows and throw it out into the street. But I can’t shake it, so it’s earned a place in the cabinet of curiosities.
So not only did he have a horrible life, he sucks at haunting.
Grave Dirt from Night of the Living Dead Cemetery
When I left after my one visit to this Pennsylvania site, I came away with only pictures and the vague sense of a loop being closed. When Joey left, I ended up with a vial of soil trod upon by George Romero.
It’s really creepy to write the words “I ended” in a sentence about a graveyard.
Like everything else in my life, I don’t know where this cabinet of curiosities is going. If it’s anything like this post, absolutely nowhere. Sorry. I’ve already passed my half-hour limit for trying to figure out how to wrap articles up. Plus, it's snowing, and I want to go make a snowman.