James Callahan Illustration
Stuff. We all have too much of it, but most of us want more of it anyway.
Enter Richmond Freecycle: The ultimate online swap meet for junk lovers, an e-mail listserv modeled on similar groups all over the country, where clearing the attic — while simultaneously filling the garage — gets a digital assist.
But Freecycle may have another purpose: social barometer. Remember how Beanie Babies used to ignite near-riots at Hallmark stores? Now they're free.
Skeptical that those unfortunate 1980s fashions really are back? Doubt no more. Dozens of posts request the closet contents of former Flock of Seagulls and Cindy Lauper fans.
But Freecycle also offers other nuggets that require deeper analysis than can be applied by an armchair sociologist. Beware, because spelling can be a little unorthodox in these dark corners.
Take one recent post from "jimbo500." "Wanted: broken plastic tote — willow lawn" the post reads. "missing lid: ok, thanx."
Then there's the bizarre, where even the most daring anthropologist might prefer to look away: "wanted: male manequin," writes "lady_graymyst in Glen Allen, "for averaged size male. Thanks."
And then there's the inadvertently explicit, like "Brandi," who offers her used "beast pump" to some lucky new mom.
Or what about gift ideas for the absolutely hopeless romantic: "Offer: Victoria's Secret Dream Angels Divine perfume" writes "ddpottery," who provides a must-read disclaimer. "This is a full bottle of perfume that I don't care for. To be honest, I think it might be bad/rancid ... but I'm not sure. It's not that old. Maybe it's just my nose."