Saturday, August 04, 2007


Whether you call ’em garage sales, yard sales, tag sales, or rummage sales, the act of rounding up your Useless Shit, applying price tags to it, and then trying to sell it off to Random Strangers is familiar to most homeowners.

With luck, and depending on the nature of your particular Useless Shit, you can clear several hundred dollars at a garage sale. Sometimes more. That’s like found money...and you get to clear your house out of a lot of crap that is just taking up space. Some people enjoy garage sales so much, they spend a goodly chunk of their lives engaged in them, either as buyers or sellers. These are the True Believers, and their creed is simple: One man’s dross is another’s gold.

And sometimes, you even get a story or two out of it.

We now jump in the Wayback Machine d'Elisson, with controls set for sometime in the early fall of 1988. At the time, we resided in Glastonbury, Connecticut, hard by the east bank of the Connecticut River just south of Hartford...and we were getting ready to move to Trumbull, a town sixty miles downstate, so that I could start a new job.

It was the perfect time for a Garage Sale. Money in hand, and less crap to shove in the moving van.

And thus it was that we gathered up our Superfluous Belongings and set them up in - where else? - the garage. It took a few hours to decide what we were going to jettison and to apply price tags.

When it came time for the sale, people started arriving right away. The early birds, as always, tended to be people who were semi-professional Garage Sale aficionados. They wanted first crack at the merchandise; the odd treasure would be a less likely find once things had been picked over. These are the ones who make shamelessly low offers: if you have a $20 price tag on a particular object, they’ll offer $2 without batting an eye. Fuck’m.

Among the items we disposed of were several men’s suits, all 100% wool, that I had had made in Hong Kong several years prior. They were beginning to show signs of age, but not enough to dissuade the bargain-hunters. The rest of the stuff? Not especially memorable, alas. Some superannuated furniture...old toys...dishes...who the hell knows? Junk, all junk.

Over the next few hours, the assortment of Superfluous Belongings gradually dwindled away. Even Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm got into the act, putting some of their own Useless Crap up for sale in the hopes of realizing some bubblegum money.

And then a car full of women from East Hartford pulled up. They looked through the remaining merchandise, pausing occasionally to lob out a lowball offer for a miscellaneous item in some bizarre European-sounding accent. After about fifteen minutes of this, they decided on a few items, paid, and got into their car to leave.

As they prepared to back down the driveway, I walked up to the driver, a minimally attractive lady in her early forties (for so she appeared to me), and said, “You have an interesting accent. Where are you ladies from?”

She responded, “Poland. Say, my friend here (at this, she inclined her head toward a companion in the front passenger’s seat, who grinned lasciviously) would like to break the seventh Commandment with you.”

Hrmmm...which one was that, anyway? I counted ’em off mentally...murder was six, seven was, what? Thou shalt not steal? Naw, that didn’t make sense. Ah! “Thou shalt not commit adultery!” That’s the ticket!

“Er, ahh...thanks, but...another time, perhaps. ’Bye, now!”

Which may explain why SWMBO insists on being present when we have Garage Sales...

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