Thursday, December 5, 2013
On The Edge
By J.P. Devine
Never mind the cicadas. They only come every l7 years.
Forget Earth warming, climate change, Benghazi, the IRS; those are Obama’s problems.
In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, they’re only made of clay; but garage sales, like our love, are here to stay. Unlike our love, however, there is no sweetness there.
From Gardiner to Hallowell, Sidney to Fairfield, we pass them on a Saturday morning. They look like fun, like miniature carnivals or European street fairs, sans the Ferris wheels and carousels.
Look at the smiling faces, the tinkle of their laughter. It’s all fake, an evil facade. Garage sales are the work of Satan.
See the “antique” bird cage. They probably got it at T.J. Maxx in Bangor, and then the bird died.
They’re asking more for it than they paid. Sales, like love, are for the very young. Once you are on the far distant shores of Medicare, garage sales are nothing more than preheart attacks, slipped discs, hernias and headaches.
She, who snubs garage sales and never allows us to stop on weekend mornings, sings quite another tune when it comes to hers. All winter, through the long night storms and dreary ice-bound driveway days, she chortled about our forthcoming spring retirement and final garage sale plans. She has been planning this for years. She genuinely feels that the 20 bucks we’ll get for a mirror will see us through to the nursing home.
Through the year, whenever she’s between books or finished with paper grading, she drags me from room to room, pointing out future sale items. Her favorite lines are “People are looking for these all the time,” and “You can’t find these anymore, and watch how they sell.” Right.
Of course they won’t, or at least nowhere near the price she writes on the little yellow tags she bought at CVS. She’s started hauling out books. She seems to think that just because she paid 25 bucks for a best-selling novel, that someone will pay five or 10 bucks for it. They won’t, I explain. It’s an old book, just an old book to them. People who go to garage sales want überbargains. They won’t pay more than a buck for a book unless it’s autographed by Stephen King or someone dead.
We’ve had garage sales in the past, and they always turn out the same way. The day before, I am dispatched to nail signs on light poles all over the neighborhood. We have already paid to put an ad in the paper that says, “Starts at 9 a.m. No dealers.”
At 7 a.m., the first dealers arrive and sit in their cars blocking the driveway, so that the average Joe Schmoe looking for a dollar best-seller can’t get in. So we have to get up, because Jack won’t stop barking until we do.
Then, in my robe, I open the garage doors and start hauling out the assorted junk I spent the day before setting up.
Throughout the day, providing it doesn’t rain, the hordes of bargain hunters will come and go, including a best friend who gave us an item 10 years ago, and that I will have to rush to grab and hide when I spot him coming up the driveway.
When all are gone, I’ll drag the junk back in, despite her pleas to stay open for one more hour to catch the “latecomers.” The only latecomer is always a large woman in Hello Kitty pajama pants and slippers who comes back to see if we reduced the price on the used slippers. I give them to her free, without mentioning that I could not get all the doggie poop off the bottoms.
As I close the garage doors, she, the Garage Sale Queen for a day, will be sitting in an unsold antique chair, reading a $25 best-seller everyone passed up for the five-dollar tag.
This night we will go out to dinner and spend the $52.87 we made. The 87 cents was for a best seller.