Here’s my personal experience with garage sales: They have something cheap to sell; I buy it; it becomes part of my yard sale in five years, completing a kind of vicious cycle. But, like an addiction, I can’t stay away from a good garage sale.
Some, however, turn out to be not so good, like the one I attended this weekend, a multi-family garage sale crammed with items piled up in some woman’s living room.
I see lots of candles and candle holders, the apparent theme for this sale. Most have old, burned wax on them. A young female holds up an eight-stick candle holder.
“Bernie, look. Bernie – look. Only fifteen dollars.”
Ten feet away, looking blank, Bernie replies, “Fine. If you really think we need it.” I figure he already knows what I know about garage sales, women’s impulses, and crap you don’t need, and is light years ahead of her, but will still be stuck paying for all of them. When she asks permission to buy similar items down the row, I know their marriage is in trouble, perhaps a reclamation project all its own. Citing their marriage as a dumpster fire is a broad brush stroke conclusion, but I’m betting I’ll be right in only a few years.
To break the wax monotony, I’m relieved to spot a set of plastic margarita glasses. But they look like they’ve been run through a dishwasher hundreds of times, and the days of actually being able to see through them are hundreds of hangovers over. A woman approaches the twelve-piece set. Now she’s beaming over her new-found prize. What is it about those margarita glasses I missed?
The next table has a dizzying array of articles dumped on it. The highlight is a $245 tiara next to a Vangelis cassette tape, items that will never be placed side by side again in this universe during my lifetime.
Stacks of used clothing, all nicely folded and grouped, await me on the next table. I don’t want to pick up any article for fear of having to refold it as nicely as the seller did. Going through used clothes always freaks me out. Who knows – these could be John Wayne Gacy’s shorts. Who wants to comb through someone else’s clothes anyway? And what are the chances they’ll have my pants size? Zero.
On the wall above me is a poster print of Dalmations blending into the spotty snowy landscape behind them. This relaxes me. Out of curiosity, I ask how much it costs. The host says it’s not for sale since it’s on her living room wall.
The last table is covered in items bought over the internet: wallets, China dolls, propane tanks, beaded belts, car grill covers, leather caps – anything the seller thinks will eventually sell, if not this weekend, but by the last weekend he’s alive to sell.
I’ve had enough. I have to leave. I’m getting depressed being around so much junk.
On the way out, I spot a sofa by the door. Yet another piece of junk, I keep walking. By the time I get to my car, I stop. Didn’t I see a sign on the sofa that said “25 cents?” They’re kidding, right?
I walk back to see it’s true. But no wonder. It’s old, and I can only imagine how the big stain on the cushions got there. I start to leave when I notice the back of the sofa looks brand new. In mint condition. Hmm-m-m. The entire couch for 25 cents. Where else am I going to find an entire couch for 25 cents?
The owner walks up and says, “But you gotta haul it away today.”
I don’t care. I want it. What a deal. How can I not get it? Then again, it is pretty junky. Oh, come on, it’s not that bad. Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is, and probably not worth more than three dollars.
A guy behind me says, “You thinking of it?”
“Maybe,” I say.
“A dollar,” he says to the sofa owner.
I turn around to see the guy is Bernie. “Two dollars,” I reply.
“Three,” Bernie says.
Nobody can resist a garage sale.