Debtors can pawn just about anything at Monte de Piedad, and that means that just about everything under the sun’s for sale there. I’ve snared some wondrous treasures from Monte de Piedad: ancient carved wooden doors which now separate the library from the living room, dining room chairs, a genuine Oriental rug, some garden statuary, and a couple of masks, all charged to American Express. But just as important are the idle moments of wondering about the circumstance that might’ve landed a curiosity on the store’s floor. An old Comptomer. A Smith-Corona. Old power tools and odd assortments of priceless valuables and junk. After all, how much money might one expect to borrow by pawning a wrench that might retail, brand new, for $3? What desperate times had befallen the original owner?
Rounding the corner towards the door, one time my eye caught something even more startling: a vibrator. Oster, in fact. One of those personal kinds, usually displayed in print ads with some woman rubbing the appliance along her cheekbone. How did the vibrator end up at Monte de Piedad? Did some lonesome soul pawn it to buy Day of the King toys for her children? Had its utility been superseded? Had it been hocked by someone who felt threatened by it? Is there someone in the neighborhood now bereft of his or her vibrator, mourning its loss, knowing that it’s now for sale to anyone with the yen for a used vibrator? Who would buy a used vibrator anyway?