Saturday, May 27, 2006

Garage Sales

I got up early this morning and girded my loins for a day of mass-garage sale shopping. I don't know what 'girded my loins' actually means but I use it synonymously with 'steeled myself' or 'prepared for battle' or 'geared up for the task at hand.'

Anyway, this is the big garage sale weekend, right? Who knows what treasures await me out there if I just get up and about early enough before all the hoarders come and get it all?

The problem was, there weren't very many garage sales to be had! I drove and drove! With gasoline at $3.25 and higher per gallon, this is already a losing proposition! Everytime I saw a likely garage sale sign it turned out to be one of those "Vote for Steve for Chairperson" placards. The H street corridor is also rife with signs that say, "MERCY! No more traffic, please!" because of course that tiny little residential tree lined street is one of the few thoroughfares between the freeway and downtown, so it is always clogged with rude commuters in a big hurry and determined to mow down anyone in their way, pedestrians be damned.

So I think those MERCY! signs are a good thing, but there sure were a lot of them today when what I really wanted were some garage sale signs! Finally I spotted a garage sale that apparently didn't bother with signage. I can kind of see why, because they didn't have anything priced, it was still in boxes and, well, the whole thing was lackadaisical. There were some crunched lamp shades, piles of dyke clothing, and several oversized black stereo components the likes of which have not been manufactured since about 1975.

And what is up with people selling their shoes? Do they really think some total stranger is going to come along and, at 4 bucks a pair, relieve them of 20 pairs of size 8 downtrodden, scuffed, down at heel, worn out burnt out crappy shoes? The homeless get a free pair of sneakers at all the shelters, so even THEY would not want these shoes. Even the thrift store sells it's shoes for 2 bucks a pair for the really nice ones with some life left in them. This one stack of shoes had obviously been crushed under the weight of other tons of shoes for at least 25 years judging from the style of them.

THROW THEM OUT, PEOPLE! Do NOT attempt to make a buck off of used-UP stuff. Used is fine. Used is good. Used-UP is ridiculous! You already GOT your money's worth out of those shoes back in 1982 so just toss them in the dumpster, please.

Also, what is up with people selling the kinds of things that you can get BRAND NEW at the 98 cent store for $1.50-$2.00? Like ice cube trays that are dirty, scratched, and started life out as poor imitation Tupperware? These are NOT COLLECTIBLE ITEMS, folks. THROW THEM OUT. They are biodegrading as we speak.

I found and followed some signs for a "Garage Sale Palooza" that was touted to be a neighborhood-wide event!!! with lots of hot-pink exclamation points, only to find that it was just three houses and just three paltry little tables of junk. Like a little stereo boombox missing it's speakers and with one of the tape drives not working for sale for 10 bucks. Boxes of video tapes without labels or covers on them...obviously home-taped jobs...that the guy wanted 4 dollars each for. Okay. I can go to the giant mega-bin at Walmart and get Mexican Movies for 5 bucks still in the wrapper so why would I want your old glitched up jobs?

For that matter, why would anyone? Why would anyone want your polyester muumuus? Your torn and faded and warped to your exact bulbous body shape jeans with designer flower power pockets? Your scary looking guinea pig cage with the stench of death clinging to it and the bag of shavings only half used as part of the deal?

Get rid of this stuff. For FREE. Don't try to make a buck off of it. Just let it go. Throw it away. No one wants it.

Finally, ready to head for home I cut across a small street that would take me back out onto J street and out of the neighborhoods, I happened upon a little garage sale that looked promising. Tons of stuff and run by two grey-haired ladies who told me they were late in getting started but to just rummage through the boxes and help myself.

I got a box of rose stationary, a packet of paper "Roylies"--the Royal Doily for teacups and a wonderful set of old thick soft cotton pillowcases that had never been completed. The lady had been embroidering all her life but when she got Alzheimer's she would sit and pick out all the stitches so her daughters had hidden all her things. I have a real passion for those old pillow case sets. They come to gether in one continuous tube, for those who don't know, and you could leave them that way as a single bolster cover but you are really supposed to finish them and then cut them in half to make two pillowcases. They just don't make cotton that thick and creamy anymore. I snatch those up anytime I find them.

I chatted quite a while with the ladies who were sisters and had lost both their parents to Alzheimer's. It was all I could do to stop myself from asking if there were any teapots or linen things still in the house that might be for sale, but I decided not to push my luck.

I think the key to garage sales is to only go to the ones run by Oldsters. I came away with 3 little treasures for under 2 bucks and had an interesting conversational exchange in the bargain! Let other people flock to the ones with the Pottery Barn half-burnt candle stubs that some young housewife is selling for 5 bucks, I want the old treasures that are worth the hunt.

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