Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Garage Sale

In Beverly Hills they call it an Estate Sale where crazed hunters/gatherer connoisseurs go looking for a missing Vermeer or Picasso vase.

In my neighborhood it’s called a Yard Sale and the best you can hope for is a Kincaid poster among three-legged tables and broken toasters.

Why do all clothes look like schmattas laid out on lawn? The most expensive shirt seems like it came from a 99 cent store. I suppose context is all. Thrift stores, at least, put them on hangers.

Part of the fun, I’m told, is the haggling. Having spent over fifty years behind a counter I have a low threshold for bargaining. It’s a good thing I wasn’t born in Tangiers or Tijuana. The marketplace is not my kind of place. Name the price and I’ll either buy it or walk away. The last time I protested the price of anything was In Heidelberg, Germany when we bought a doll and I told the vender it was too cheap.

I imagine there are two sorts of people who go Saturday sailing. The weekend explorer searching for a nugget of El Dorado buried in the flotsam; a signed folio by Shakespeare or perhaps a page from the Gutenberg Bible, inscribed by an apostle. Also included in this group are the collectors obsessed with orange juice squeezers or salt & pepper shakers.

The other is the one-time shopper searching for a specific need like a half-moon end table or ergometrically designed computer chair. Or they may be in search of that wayward yellow sock which escaped from a washing machine last year and inched its way across the street. Garage sales are a great source for single socks. Actually I have a thing for un-matched socks. One yellow, one white will do fine though people might talk if they found my body with asymmetrical footsies; so I’ve narrowed my spectrum from navy blue to black to brown.

The whole notion of putting out one’s wares for sale seems to me a noble way of re-cycling for some small change…which could add up to serious money. It’s an underground economy for some folk…selling stuff that fell off the back of a truck. At this stage of life, buying anything ranks low on my list. We are in liquidating mode. When we pass an estate/garage/yard sale we say factiously, It could be important but drive on.

The one notable item I ever picked up occurred over 27 years ago when I first moved in with Peggy. We were cruising around Santa Monica and she was telling me about a book she had read and greatly admired. It was Aldo Leopold’s, Sand County Almanac. She noticed a yard sale up ahead and suggested we check it out, as if there had only been a few dozen books ever written. We spotted a pile and sure enough, there it was, Sand County Almanac. I knew then I was with a woman of remarkable powers.

1 comment:

  1. One of my happiest memories was on an anniversary a million years ago when my first wife and I were both heavy smokers. My son 6 and my daughter 4 opened their piggy banks and took out 5 cents each and went down the street to a garage sale in search of an anniversary present for their loving parents.

    They returned about 30 minutes later and in unison said "Happy Anniversary" and handed us the ugliest ash tray imaginable that on the side in gold letters read " Happy Anniversary Bernie and Pearl."