The Kama Sutra Cookbook: The dangers of thrifting and bargain shopping

Michael DeWitt, Jr.

Posted Aug. 11, 2021

By Michael DeWitt, Jr.

Some call it “thrifting.” Others refer to it as “yard-saling.” When it involves my spouse, I call it torture.

My bride of 18 years enjoys Saturday mornings spent hopping from thrift store to yard sale to bargain bin – with just a little antiquing thrown in for extra misery.

The problem? My wife is a browser who doesn’t like to spend money. I am a hopeless consumer with no self-control. I collect cookbooks and old bottles and outdoor magazines and anything rusty—let’s just say that the antique store is not a safe place for me to be unsupervised.

“I’ve got to have that!” I exclaim, at every thrift store or bargain bin we visit.

“You don’t even know what it is!” the spouse argues.

“I don’t care, I still need it!”

“You don’t need that,” the wife tells me, and she will repeat that phrase often throughout the day.

By now, the local store employees know her well, and they don’t even bother to greet her anymore when the bell chimes to announce our entrance—but they love me.

“Come on in, Mr. DeWitt! We’ve got some great new antique fishing gear, some old tools, and a whole stack of National Geographic magazines just for you!”

“Come back when your wife isn’t around,” they whisper. “We’ll save these for you!”

Before you go misjudging the lass as a miser, her primary fault is that, while she appreciates fine antiques like furniture and china, she doesn’t have an appreciation of the more interesting historical treasures that one can find in such places—the vintage 1970s Tupperware that has served a thousand meals, the “whatnots,” the “bric-a-brac,” the classic beer signs that would look great in my man cave. And I have never met a faded yellow Nat Geo magazine that I didn’t rescue and re-home.

Each shopping trip is like an adventure down memory lane, where I am once again a child begging mother to shell out cash for a new toy.

“My Granny used to cook with one of those!” I exclaim at one stop.

“My Momma used to spank me with one of those!” I cry at another.

“I once stole one of those from my Dad’s tacklebox!” I confess.

It’s probably a good thing my spouse has more self-control than I do, because when she does break down and buy something it often has dangerous results.

Bless her heart, it was a used copy of The Kama Sutra. For those of you who go to my church and don’t know, this classic book, originally written in ancient Indian Sanskrit, is a text on sexuality, eroticism, and physical fulfillment. Let’s just say, in front of the children, that it is a vividly detailed, creative and informative how-to guide and leave it at that.  

This one was missing its cover and sealed in a plastic bag for modesty sake. The only page visible was the Table of Contents.

“Look dear, it’s an exotic cookbook,” the wife called to me from across the store. “Didn’t you tell me you wanted to try some different ethnic dishes? I am off this weekend and I can cook you up something special.”

“Honey,” I said after one quick glance. “I don’t think that’s what you think it is.”

“Oh, sure it is. There’s some seafood dishes in here: ‘The Crab’ and ‘The Frog.’ I don’t want to try frog legs, but I’ll cook them for you, and I’ll eat the crab with you.”

“Honey, that book is not what you think it is,” I try to lower my voice, as the store associate comes closer. “Just put it down and let’s look over here at something else.”

“I don’t know, some of this stuff is pretty weird, like this ‘Elephant’ and ‘Butterfly,’ but there are some vegetarian dishes I wouldn’t mind trying, like this ‘Lotus Bloom’ and ‘Split Bamboo.” I don’t know about that ‘Scorpion” or ‘Crouching Tiger’ – sounds spicy—but the ‘Congress of a Cow’ might be good for Sunday dinner when the family is over.”

By this time the nice older lady behind the cash register just sat there listening, with this odd look on her face. She looked like she might have been a fellow Southern Baptist, so I didn’t protest further or bother to enlighten. I just smiled as the wife paid $2.50 and took away her new ‘cookbook’ in a brown paper bag.

I am not sure how all of this will play out, but for safety sake I don’t think I want to hang around the house this weekend.

Perhaps I’ll go thrifting without the wife. I’m sure those nice ladies are still holding some old Tupperware and beer signs, just for me.

Michael M. DeWitt, Jr. is the managing editor of The Hampton County Guardian, an award-winning journalist, columnist and outdoor writer who has been published in South Carolina Wildlife, Sporting Classics, and the author of two books.

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