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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

mood: amazed | drink: lemonade


Last weekend, for only the second time in my life, I held a garage sale. (One of the many perks of living in California is that you can do that in January.)

By all accounts (including my count of the dollar bill stack) it was a rip-roaring success. The stash of nuggets Boy and I have been hoarding for our next big vacation just got a bit fatter.

It’s amazing, really, what people will buy. Bright blue synthetic clip-in hair pieces? Check. Box full of random bits and bobs having to do with curtain hanging? Check. Your dog’s old food bowl stand? Check. A lab coat with the nametag “Dr. Seemore Bush, Gynecologist”? Check.

(The latter item was purchased for 50 cents by two very serious older gentlemen. The garage sale got very quiet during that transaction while everyone standing about averted eyes and tried very hard not to laugh. There was much speculation later about the old guys terrorizing the nursing home that night with their new purchase.)

Then there was the 50-ish dude with Elvis sunglasses and purple sideburns who bought, among other things, my Tomb Raider action figure (still in original packaging) and a pair of purple fairy wings (to match his sideburns?).

Over the years I’ve been given many, many, many a blankbook/journal/writing tablet. So many, in fact, that I would be hard pressed to ever fill them all up. So I sorted through them all, kept a few favorites, and piled the rest into a garage sale box.

Unbeknownst to me, in one orange-suede covered blankbook there was one page with a half-finished poem on it. A tremulous older woman brought it to me and said, “What should I do about this?” I took the book from her and gently ripped the page out, then handed it back to her. “There,” I said, “Good as new.”

“Oh dear, oh dear,” she muttered. “I want to give this to my granddaughter, but now I don’t think I can if there’s a page missing!”

I rolled my eyes and tried not to say, “LADY, IT’S ONLY 50 CENTS.”

Fortunately my sister, who is much better equipped with people skills, stepped in and took over for me. (Paranoid hippie lady did NOT, however, purchase said journal.)

All-in-all though, it was a fabulous day. Boy and I got rid of so much unnecessary baggage, and other people were more than happy to hand over their quarters and pocket lint for it all. The one-man’s-trash principle was in full effect.

We also got to meet quite a few of our new neighbors, some of whom were understandably confused about our “Moving Sale” sign. “Are you moving out already?” they wanted to know. So we explained that this was a moving-IN sale.

My favorite new neighbor was a Einstein-haired old guy (what was with all the old guys hanging out on Saturday, anyway?) who spent at least 45 minutes going through every single book we had for sale (about 6 boxes worth). Eventually he bought two books for two dollars, and then as he was driving away in his Toyota, he stopped and yelled out the window, “Did you guys buy the place?” “Yeah!” I shouted back.

“Well, welcome to the neighborhood. It’s not always this nice,” he said, gesturing to the sunny blue sky, “so don’t get used to it.” Then he zoomed off, white hair flying.

Old guys are the best. Especially the Russian guy who came back twice and dropped about $50 total. On his second trip, he held up a dish drainer and said, “How much for this?” “25 cents,” I said.

“Ok. How much this?” he pointed to a wine rack. “You can have that for a dollar.” I said.

“You make good deals,” he said. “How much are you?”

I shot back, “Oh, trust me, you couldn’t afford it.”

“Hah. I bet you are right,” he said.

Flirtatious old geezer.

The moral of the story is this: Garage sales rock. You should always get my sister to organize your sale for you. And be sure to invite lots of friends to come over and hang out on the sidewalk, just to sit there and see what happens.

-Lo, flush with spare change.

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