54. Buyer’s remorse

Take a deep breath, good people. I am, I’m afraid, going to be writing about Justin Bieber again. Sorry.

Somewhere out there, the world's most evil stylist is laughing quietly to herself.

Somewhere out there, the world’s most evil stylist is laughing quietly to herself.

To tell the truth, I’m not going to be writing about him at all. I’m going to be writing about his sweaty vest.

Somewhere out there, the world's most evil stylist is shrieking like a banshee.

Somewhere out there, the world’s most evil stylist is shrieking like a banshee.

I wrote about hobbies yesterday, and how I’m not really into them. One of the hobbies that I’m not really into is collecting things. This is probably a mistake, albeit one I am comfortable with. It’s a mistake because sometimes, in the hands of an astute collector, a cheap and cheerful little knickknack can end up being worth a great deal of money.

Coke memorabilia. Baseball cards. Superman comics. There’s a whole world of tat out there that can end up being vastly, if curiously, valuable. There’s a GI Joe action figure out there worth $200 000, and a matchbox car worth $500 000. Which pale to insignificance next to the Lady Di beanie baby, a steal at $2 000 000.

Why not just buy a real car and stand further away from it?

Why not just buy a real car and stand further away from it?

This is not, by any measure, easy money. Firstly, you need to go out and buy a random cheap toy. Then you have to put it away. Forever. You can’t even take it out of the packaging. Just take it home, lock it in a safe, and take it out again thirty years later. You’ll need quite a big safe, though, because for every $500 000 Matchbox car, there must be tens of thousands of toys worth nothing.

And it’s not just toys. You can do this with collectible spoons, porcelain, stamps, and a hundred other things. What you cannot do it with, I would venture to guess, is Justin Bieber’s sweaty vest. The incomparable young man was out here recently. He sweated. And he left his vest behind.

Don't worry, we're keeping it warm for him.

Don’t worry, we’re keeping it warm for him.

Some worthy soul just spent R32 600 on it. That’s about $3 200. But well worth the price, because there was a pair of drumsticks thrown in. And a picture. And the wonderful part of all of this is that it was bought on auction. There is, it would seem, more than one person out there willing to pay top dollar for a teenage boy’s soiled undergarments. Which is not worrying at all.

These people are doing things the wrong way round. To score big in the world of collecting, you look around and try to predict which pieces of popular culture are going to catch hold of the public’s imagination. Then you buy it cheap, preserve it, and wait for the price to go up.

An instant classic. It's gonna be worth millions!

An instant classic. It’s gonna be worth millions!

I can’t help but think that the opposite is going to happen here. The poor sausage who bought this one-of-a kind masterpiece is now going to sit back and watch its value plummet. Bieber has already started to unravel. The cracks are starting to show. He’s abandoning pet monkeys in international airports and turning up late for shows. He’s not the next Elvis.

In ten years’ time, the man who bought this (yes, it was a man. Nothing dodgy there. I’m sure he just admires his dance moves) is going to be shuffling uncomfortably and looking down at his shoes when he invites his mates round for a drink and they ask about the yellowing wife-beater vest in the frame behind his bar. Or, more likely, he will pop down to his Bieber-dungeon for the first time in years, stop at the bottom of the stairs, look around, and think “What the hell was this all about?”

What he will not do is look up at the wall of his bedroom, heart racing as he relives the adrenalin rush of that magical auction-winning day, clench his hands into fists and say “Yes. Yes! YES! IT’S MINE! IT’S STILL MINE!”



When I was about ten years old, my mother sent me off to school with ten Rand to spend in the tuck-shop. For a ten-year-old back then, ten Rand was a lot of money. I came home with a pet leech. I was beside myself with joy. A leech! And it was all mine! I’d beaten out a bunch of other kids and taken home the prize!

The next day I had to feed it. As I sat there watching it pulse greedily as it sucked the blood from my arm, I had my first experience of buyer’s remorse. I can’t really tell you exactly what I felt that day. I just knew that the magic was gone, just like my ten rand, and having a leech was kinda sucky.

I couldn't even housetrain it.

I couldn’t even housetrain it.

Someone can tell you exactly how I felt that day. Somewhere in Johannesburg, a man is sitting alone in a brightly lit room, staring forlornly up at a dirty vest and some drumsticks hanging up on his wall. He knows. And he’ll know for a very long time. He can’t go and set the vest free in his garden pond, now can he?


35 thoughts on “54. Buyer’s remorse

  1. holmesr64 says:

    Edna Mode is laughing maniacally…

  2. safariguru says:

    I ( being the dedicated Mother I am ) accompanied by two daughters to the Justin Bieber Concert in Cape Town. They loved it… and yes, he is a good performer, but after having 60 000 teen-age girls screaming all around me as only teenage girls can, for 2 hours – it took me a week to get my hearing back

  3. albertine says:

    Isn’t a blog a kind of collection?

  4. Melinafrica says:

    No way to make a quick buck, especially off of the biebs. He came out to Dubai pretty recently and I bought one of the more expensive tickets thinking I’d sell it again for at least double… he decided to make a second show the following day. I literally could not give that ticket away (I tried), probably couldn’t have paid to get it taken off of me.

    Serves me right, I guess.

  5. Lehst says:

    haha, your blog is definitely a good read. i like the harsh, yet comedic, reality check.
    anyways, I have to agree that the sort of “collecting” you are talking about is definitely something I don’t really understand. I love to collect toys, but honestly it’s because I truly love them and playing with them. There’s also that sense of satisfaction when you manage to get a complete set, or compete for a hot item. But as for thinking of what value they will have to others, its generally a moot point for me since I intend to keep what I collect forever.

    • 23thorns says:

      I can’t collect anything, not even the things I value. I can’t even look after my car-keys, let alone a valuable piece of the world’s heritage.

      • Lehst says:

        xD well, to each their own. I do know people that don’t care to preserve endless amounts of material things and would rather spend time going out or actually -doing- something. lol

  6. narf77 says:

    I feel somewhat remiss commenting about someone so young Mr 23Thorns…the boy is still in nappies! (at least that’s what he looks like he is wearing underneath those purple pants…) We have leeches here to Mr 23Thorns…we don’t bid on them…we just “win” them and wake up thinking that the dog has killed the supine body of our loved one by the amount of blood that can leak out after a decent leech feed. That’s a lot of money to shell out for some teenaged testosterone isn’t it? I think I will keep my readies under the bed in my moth eaten sock until Steve goes on that much promised fishing trip and I can take up pallet collecting where I left off…

    • 23thorns says:

      You just need to learn to negotiate. Hide his coveted “spoon-wood” away, and don’t return it until you have hammered out some sort of pallet collecting agreement.

      • narf77 says:

        Negotiate?…With a man that came from Liverpool?!!! I think not Mr 23Thorns…I think it’s time to bring out the big guns…”EARL…HERE BOY!” 😉 If you can train a dog to hunt truffles, you can train a dog to hunt pallets! Bezial already finds eggs from our wayfaring hens…

      • 23thorns says:

        For herself or for you?

  7. Dylan Hearn says:

    I feel sorry for the guy. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand his music or the way his antics garner more attention than something more worthy, but he’s been badly let down by those around him. In the years where he should be developing a sense of identity and responsibility, he’s been allowed to do whatever he wants. Whenever he gets into a mess – which seems to be happening more often lately – somebody clears it up for him. He has no idea of the true consequences of his actions. I see this ending badly, the poor kid.

    • 23thorns says:

      I’ve always been fascinated by this. It is highly illegal to put your child to work in a factory, but for years we have all sat back and watched kids like Bieber being sacrificed, sometimes quite literally, on the altar of fame. We know it will end badly. We know we are watching the theft of a childhood and the destruction of a life, but we all sit back and no-one raises an eyebrow.

  8. Jocelyn Hers says:

    What , you’re not a Belieber? Sanity has prevailed.
    There is another form of collector who is unconcerned with monetary value. Their criteria is “It Will Come in Useful” and there are more about than one thinks.

  9. billgncs says:

    collect what you love, everything else depends on the “greater fool theory” – finding someone to pay more than you did.

  10. Lyn says:

    It really is quite sad that Justin Bieber has a problem with incontinence. He must do…he has to be wearing a diaper under those pants. No one in their right mind would wear pants that baggy. What? Oh…yes, I take your point 😀

    • 23thorns says:

      They’re not baggy. Look at the rest of them from the knees down; it’s like they are spraypainted onto his legs. These are, quite simply, the best pants in the world. They should have a name. How about “dignity pants”.

  11. Mary Southon says:

    Love the shot of Bieber from behind. It looks like he’s wearing a heavily used Depends. Can’t stop laughing!!! Thank you!

  12. sisteranan says:

    i dunno about setting it free, but leave the vest long enuf and it’ll probably be walking away under its own power…

    • 23thorns says:

      I wonder if something like that rots? Imagine looking up and seeing your “investment” consuming itself in a motley green cloud of mould.

  13. Ashana M says:

    He could. It might even get up and walk. If it’s like most other teenage boys’ sweaty vests, it could even be persuaded to send a text message and eat a cheeseburger.

  14. cindy knoke says:

    Hilarious. What is wrong with the Bieber nard?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s