There's just something about 'The Sound of Music'

The Baltimore Sun

It won't be long before my kitchen walls are alive with the sound of music.

About a month ago, I wandered into a wallpaper store in downtown Catonsville, killing time while my son took a music lesson across the street. I figured it was a nice warm shop in which I could browse without ever feeling compelled to buy anything.

After all, there are no impulse-shoppers in the wallpaper category - who pops into a wallpaper store on a whim and comes out with 15 double rolls? When it comes to wallpaper, people typically look, look some more, and finally return to the store to look some more. I figured I could safely enjoy every Tuesday afternoon in this store for weeks without spending a dime.

Unbeknownst to me, the wallpaper shop's management had gotten wise to the heat-seeking, nonpaying browser phenomenon and converted some of its space to an antiques/collectibles shop. I ambled around and started noticing teapots, etched platters and all sorts of stuff that looks surprisingly fetching displayed on crocheted doilies. The kind of stuff one might normally put out for Goodwill pickup.

Week after week, I managed to browse without buying. Until the day I spied, tucked in a back corner, a rack with five collectible plates featuring scenes from The Sound of Music.

I must admit, heretofore I was the kind of person who used to laugh at the ads in women's magazines for collectibles. I would routinely point them out to my children while waiting in the pediatrician's or dentist's office, flipping to the page with the adorable Little Miss Muffet figurine exquisitely adorned in a frilly outfit on her matching tuffet, and say: "Here's something I definitely do not want for Christmas!" Or, more to the point, "Make sure not to buy this for me, ever."

But there's just something about The Sound of Music.

Maybe it is the memory of my grandmother taking me to see it over and over when I was 6 years old, or of the record I played incessantly until I had memorized all the lyrics, including the challenging "The Lonely Goatherd."

I was inexplicably drawn to the kitschy plates.

It wasn't a full set, but the plates I saw depicted my favorite things, as it were. I didn't buy them, but returned home to tell my family that I had seen a vision of my upcoming birthday gift. I wanted those plates.

"Um, where will we put them?" my husband asked tactfully.

"We'll decorate the kitchen with them!" I announced.

Right now, all over Maryland, professional decorators are cringing, thanking their lucky stars that they never had a client impulsively decide to make Sound of Music plates the focal point of a high-traffic area in an otherwise tasteful home.

I was undeterred. I had confidence in confidence, you see, so I went right back to the wallpaper-antique shop the next week with my checkbook in hand.

But the plates were gone. I almost cried in the store, but I knew in my heart that if I just climbed every mountain and forded every stream, I would find my dream. And I did, that afternoon, on eBay.

A full set of Sound of Music plates! I went to the "buy it now" offering and just plunked down my PayPal cash.

When the plates arrived, I was a bit dismayed to see that one plate in the series was missing, and a South Pacific plate was in its stead. Let me tell you, I wanted to wash that plate right out of my hair. But the seller and I conferred, and he found and bid on the missing single plate for my set on eBay. I paid him the shipping and now my set - and I daresay my life - are complete.

Small and white, clean and bright, every morning they'll greet me.

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