Monday, June 13, 2011

Lalapalooza Garage Sale

Some ambled slowly as they carefully eyed every detail of each item.  Others briskly power-walked looking for specifics.  Some grabbed up odds and ends without second guessing the cost.  Others scrutinized the price tag trying to decide if a dollar was an atrocious amount to pay for a used alarm clock labeled "still works."

Oh, how I loved watching people shop at my "Lallapalooza Garage Sale" (as advertised) last Saturday!  They were tall.  They were short.  They were black, brown, white, and kind of beige-y.  Some were serious and determined in search of specific items.  "Do you have any tools?"  "Are you selling that freezer?"  Others were simply out hunting for treasure on a beautiful blue-sky morning.  "Look, Sue!  I used to have one of these back in high school!"  They were the ones that I loved the most.  They had stories to tell.

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"I hate the way they have dumbed-down elementary school readers these days," she said shaking her head.  Thumbing through some vintage reading books (from the 40's) she told me that her parents and grandparents had passed down some of their old school books.  

"They were written on almost a high school level!" she informed me.  

"Don't I know it!" I agreed.  I have a strict policy against arguing with paying customers.  
"Didn't kids used to learn to read using the King James Bible?" I continued. 

"Yes, they did!  There was none of that 'See Jane run.  Run, Jane, Run' business," she said getting more and more worked up about the idiocy of our elementary readers.

"Mm.  Mm.  Mm," I said implying agreement as I shook my head and sauntered off towards the garage sale housewares department.  I am a big fan of Dick, Jane, Tip, and Mitten.  Run, Carolyn, run!

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"These probably won't fit me!" she exclaimed handing me 3 bucks for my mint condition white cotton crop pants.

"Well..." I responded smiling.  It was all I could say.  By the looks of her girth, she was definitely NOT going to fit into them.   I wanted to say, "I'm celebrating the fact that they are too big for me now."  I mentally filtered the remark down to silence after factoring in two knowns: 1.) I didn't want to offend her, and 2.) a sale is a sale is a sale.  The pants were only $3.  They will become her Incentive Crop Pants.  If they had been $5, I would have tried to let her down gently.

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I didn't have a chance to speak with the lady who walked away bearing my mom's cheesy monkey-climbing-a-palm-tree candlestick.  I fought the urge to run after her to ask what drew her to it.  Why not the plain brass candlesticks marked "$1.00 for both?"  For her dollar, all she got was that one quirky candlestick.  Thoughts raced through my mind at lightening speed.  Was she buying it as a gag gift that would imply disrespect to my mother's taste...I mean...I can make fun of the thing, but a total stranger?!  Did she collect monkeys?  Palm trees?  Was it a rare find because it was the combination of a monkey AND a palm tree?  As she rounded the fence out of sight, I felt a lump in my throat.  Last August, I pried it from Mom's fingers assuring her that there was simply no place in her Raider Ranch apartment that would do justice to the monkey-climbing-a-palm-tree candlestick.  Saturday, I was sad to see it go.

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I will not soon forget the smiling man who thanked me ten times for selling the Nikon 35mm film camera to him for $30.  We chatted for a moment about whether or not film could still be purchased.  I honestly didn't know.  He said that he wanted to teach his daughter how to "pull focus," a term that was new to me, and to develop film in a dark room, a skill new to him.  "This will be our thing to do together!  A father-daughter hobby," said he beaming at the prospect of bonding with his little girl.  I was touched by his longing to be a great dad.  What a lucky girl is his daughter, indeed.
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I was actually offended by the people who walked quickly through my garage with its neatly arranged tables stacked with both colorful and interesting what-nots leaving just as quickly with empty hands.  "I don't see anything.  Do you?" met with the response "Me neither" caught me cold.  I thought that I had exchanged knowing looks with the hip, cool 20-something couple who commented on the paint-by-number puppy paintings marked a measly $5 each.  When they walked out bearing only Reed's stinky, frazzled old Tom's (didn't the 50 cent tag tip you off...), I felt that I had been dissed by Martha Stewart.  Hmm!  I guess that you can't judge a seemingly cool couple by their vintage clothing and spiky hair.

There were many judgement calls made in the wink of an eye.  "Will you take less for this?"  Hmm.  Will I?  Good question.  It's only 9:00AM.  You are probably the only person on the planet who sees the value of this item.  But, there is a certain glint in your eye that is shouting, "Sucker!  I can double my money back on ebay!"  "Come back at 3:00, and we'll wheel and deal!" was my reply.  "Mommy!  Look!  It's a sword that is also a bubble wand!  It's only a quarter!"  The twinkle in the young child's eye.  The tired single-mother with a toddler on her hip.  "Hey, Sweetie!  You win the prize for cutest thing I've ever seen!  The prize?  A sword that's also a bubble wand!" I said wishing I could also throw in the child's college tuition.  "Really?!  Free?!  For me?!  Mommy, the lady said I could have it!!!  Is that OK?!"  Smiling, she and I exchange a look.  I was raised by a single mother who counted her pennies.  I get it.

At 5:00 on Saturday, I declared emphatically that I would NEVER, EVER HAVE ANOTHER GARAGE SALE.  Today as I remember the people, the stories, I am thinking that in another 5 years or so, I may need to go through the rest of the stuff in the attic.  When it comes to garage sales, the treasure is the parade of people.

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