Yard Sale!

Handmade sign and toddler: the only promotional devices God intended.

Handmade sign and adorable toddler: the only promotional devices God intended. And by “God”, I mean my beautiful wife. Who else?

Say what you will about the suburbs (no wait, allow me: they are pretend nowhere towns filled with soulless, greedy honkeys who like to pay a lot for coffee at space/time intervals approximating every third city block), the burbs really can’t be beat for rolling out bang-up quality yard sales.  This is owed to the simple fact that these greedy honkeys have a knack for acquiring a lot of shit they have absolutely no use for nor any appreciation of the value of said shit.  The suburban yard sale is sort of like a modernization of  American Indian potlach in which the wealthiest chiefs demonstrate both their power and benevolence by just giving  lot of valuable shit away, only add a cup of Starbucks and minus the underlying mission statement.   Why, in the near decade I’ve spent in the suburbs, my partner Kate and I have scored enough premium stuff at yard sales, we are sometimes both dazzled and at times slightly dazed at the pickin’s, if you will.  Amongst the bounty:

  • Uber-girly pink and purple plastic play house valued at triple digits, purchased for a mere ten spot.  It kills the grass wherever it stands, but I do my best thinking there.
  • Ginormous coffee urn from the Kennedy administration, mint-in-box.  It now claims a place of honor on my closet shelf for only 3 bucks.
  • Enough pink cotton fabric (festooned with psychedelic 70’s style animals) to make a hash tent for 6 little girls.  Price: 1 measly dollar.
  • Deluxe Scrabble game (with lazy susan, tiny timer, “official” score pad, letter bag embroidered w/Scrabble logo, the very existence of which ratchets up the ghetto cache of our letter-filled Crown Royal pouch to Cabrini Greens proportions).  Price: 1 mind-blowing dollar.  We know for a fact the game was played only once because the “official” score pad had recorded only one game: an apparently epic battle between “Denise” and “Yulie”.    Final score: Denise, 285; Yulie, 305 in only 12 rounds of play.  I guess they found Scrabble too easy and went on to ostensibly more challenging fare, like playing Machiavellian mind chess with actual human beings for game pieces.
  • More vinyl copies of Carole King’s Tapestry than you can shake a quarter at!

The average household income here in Charlemagne Oaks (name changed to prevent possible angry honkey retaliation) is $106,352.  (Jewel Shoppers here have been known to bundle up their brittle bones against the arctic chill inherent in the excavation of Smuckers Crustables from the freezer section in honest-to-golly-gee-floor-length fur coats.)   The Hellraisin household has yet to dent 35K, unless you were to factor in the sum total value of the stuff we’ve practically stolen from our neighbors, in which case, then yes, 35 K has probably been scratched.  Considering we’ve been riding on the back of this town like a cootie-consuming bird for three years this month, we decided to have our own yard sale as our way of giving back to the community.  Charlemagne Oaks, we love you!  Buy our shit!

Typically, the yard sale experience is a four step process: you set up, you sit, you sell, you put the shit you didn’t sell on the curb.  But to boil it down to its core elements would be robbing posterity of the richly rewarding experience that was Our Particular Yard Sale, so here it is, in easy-to-reference time line format:

  • 9:30 Set up is complete.  Great pains were taken on Kate’s part to ensure that our merchandise was attractively displayed and organized for ease of browsing.  What’s more, considerable “behind the scenes” work was done by the both of us to ensure said merchandise was suitable for our clientele.    Judging from the objects our neighbors have discarded at their own yard sales, we surmised that we were selling to a demographic that has no use for anything that kills grass in the yard, inspires imagination, challenges verbal abilities, caffeinates family reunions, or features the backing vocals of one James Taylor.  This process forced us to realize many of our earthly possessions did not fit though such fine-screen filter.  Items like the Padre Pio rosary key chain, the banjo I will never learn to play, and Kate’s own hand-crocheted Wicked Witch of the West/Flying Monkey matched set were deemed frankly Too Weird for Charlemagne Oaks.  Thankfully, contributions from Kate’s friend Sara and Sara’s in-laws prevented Our Particular Yard Sale from being a cavalcade of ghastlies.
We love you, Charlemagne Oaks!  Buy our shit!

We love you, Charlemagne Oaks! Buy our shit!

  • 10:30 A pair of shoes and a jacket are sold to a couple whose accents betray a place of origin far, far south of Charlemagne Oaks.  We do our best to appear gracious and not in the least disappointed.
  • 10:45 I retrieve my copy of Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury from the house and resume reading the “June Second, 1910” chapter.  This is the amazing stream-of-consciousness prelude to the suicide of Quentin Compson in which Faulkner ruminates on matters concerning race, class, madness, and the very fabric of time.  Did I say “amazing”?  I meant “almost freaking god-like”.  They sure don’t make fall-down-drunk genius authors like they used to, that’s for sure.
  • 10:50 Never fails: open a book and someone’s up in your grill in no time.  A woman and her two children (again, clearly not C.O. natives, of questionable citizenship) snag the Song Burst game and the doll high chair, a 3 dollar purchase which I suspect may have been a ruse designed to break a twenty.
  • 11:00 I resume reading, Kate begins some light yard work, and Mabel does her best to prevent us from accomplishing even those modest endeavors.  Lately, her most  effective diversionary tactic has been “butt shakin'”:

Foreground: butt shakin'.  Background: grass-killing playhouse.
Foreground: butt shakin’. Background: grass-killing playhouse.
  • 11:30 I tally up a little over 6 dollars in take-home and begin to wonder (very loudly, and in Kate’s general direction) where we went wrong.  The merchandise was, again, impeccably screened.  Who can resist premium items like the 6 quart crockpot–big enough to cook a fucking goose, used only once?  Or the Tony Bennett CD (new, in shrink wrap, shoplifted by Mabel herself), free to a good home?  Or the pink sweater festooned with beach-themed decorative elements, studded with eye-catching bead work, and batter-dipped in sequins?  It’s from The Quacker Factory, for chrissake!  Kate, standing ankle-deep in vegetative carnage, and regarding me with something that looks a lot like death in her eyes, admits to me that no, she did not post a notice on Craigslist, that the only attention-getting resources we have our disposal are our signs, our adorable toddler, and my hollering.
  • 11:37 We create a new sign that says “Untold Treasures Await You At 3rd Street.”
  • 11:39 The neighbor attempts to bond with his son in the dwindling hours of  his custody by unleashing what looks and sounds like a remote-control fart on wheels.  This greased flatulence tears around the parking lot adjacent to our house, and distracts Mabel from distracting us from distracting ourselves from the failure of Our Particular Yard Sale.
  • 12:40 The socio-economic clouds part!  Our Particular Yard Sale is finally and at last graced by the presence of two actual Charlemagne Oaks pedigree-holders.   The first, a  woman sporting the  Kate Gosselin Hackle-back hairdo (the Official Hairdo of Charlemagne Oaks)  inspects a Little Tikes playground implement without the slightest dip of her chin, taking what looked suspiciously like a down-the-nose view of our 10 dollar offering.  Before we can even explain duct tape to her, she flees like a startled doe, making a  excuse that her husband “would have to okay” a purchase of this magnitude and high-jumps into an SUV whose Bluebook value rivals my annual income.   The second, a man with  Rod Blagojevitch hair cross-examines Kate on the truthfulness of her claim that a set of bamboo blinds ($5 each!) –sealed in their original package–had never been used.  He pays $8 for the both and leaves us with a disparaging comment about “Sunday Yard Sales.”
  • 12:41-12:59 Faced with rejection, deception, exploitation, and insult, Kate and I do what any 2 members of a pissed off  minority would do: we turn on each other.  We channel our pain into a debate over the theological ramifications of the Sunday Yard Sale, verbally slapping each other like a couple of drag queens wielding fists full of curtain call roses.
  • 1:00 The neighbor’s remote control fart car apparently malfunctions, punctuating our argument with a  literal bang.  Smoke sweeps across our yard, and with it, a revelation is ushered in the startled hush.
  • 1:01-3:00 I decide that the “giving back” done by Our Particular Yard Sale is not to be done in the distribution of bang-up cheap material offerings, but rather in a sort of spirit of Xmas kind of way.  We will give C.O. what it lacks most of all: Diversity.  According to the 2000 Census, white people comprise 93.92% of the population of Charlemagne Oaks.  There are apparently no gay people here, either, (or anywhere else, if you believe the Census), so I take it upon myself  to go inside, place the stereo speakers on the sill of an open window and blast the danceable sounds of diversity (Stevie Wonder, Sylvester, Los Lobos, Ani DiFranco and TV On The Radio) out into the neighborhood.  Charlemagne Oaks, we love you!  Shake your straight honkey asses!
Apparently too expensive at any price.

Apparently too expensive at any price.

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4 Responses to “Yard Sale!”

  1. kelly Says:

    “playing Machiavellian mind chess with actual human beings”

    Oh yeah. I wouldn’t put it past Denise and Yulie. What a great image.

    This is butt-shakin’ hilarious, Melinda.

  2. Lesley Says:

    I’ll take hope, peace and love for 75 cents please.

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