Summer is the season
for baseball, barbecues, and swimming. But, in my
neighborhood, it's also time to spend Saturday mornings
behind an aluminum table, in the place usually reserved
for the car or a dog, selling items for a quarter that you
wouldn't wish on communist third world countries. I
decided to have a garage sale the day I opened my closet
and was nearly killed by an avalanche of five-year-old
maternity clothes and a Cabbage Patch doll.
I spent a week cleaning out multitudes
of baby paraphernalia, and instructed my husband to sort
through his dowry of rusty treasures stored in the garage
since our wedding. I organized the contents of my
household into three piles: used (baby accessories,
birthing books, and support hose); never-been-used
(electric breast pump, Thigh Master, and cookbooks with
recipes that require more than five ingredients): and
will-never-be-used-again (size seven jeans, sewing
machine, and anything my husband repaired). <continued
My husband's pile consisted of an
electric exit sign, he found three years ago in a
dumpster, and a pair of crutches. I knew then it would be
up to me to sell our castoffs and increase the storage
space in our home.
I woke up early on Saturday morning and
arranged my belongings on the driveway by dawn. Then I sat
in a beach chair, and waited, thinking this was the best
idea I ever had because soon my closets would be
uncluttered and I wouldn't be risking my life every time I
needed a sweater. I closed my eyes and dreamed about the
extra storage space, and cash, in my future.
"Excuse me, " my reverie was broken by a
woman waving my son's first rattle. "How much is this?"
A vision of my son, playing the with it
in his bassinet, flashed through my mind.
"I'm not sure how that got out here, " I
said as I snatched it out of her hand and tossed it to
safety behind the lawn mower, "it's not for sale."
I settled back into my chair to relax
until a group of woman came up the driveway and surrounded
my daughter's crib like buzzards after the kill.
"How much is it?" one of them asked.
I pictured my daughter asleep and
sucking her thumb safely beneath the covers . "Sorry, it's
just a display," I propped the crutches up on the side and
threw an outfit dating back to the Nixon administration
over the top.
The morning got worse when negotiations
with a six-year old, about a Barbie Camper, grew more
intense than the Middle East peace process; and I sold my
daughter's ballet slippers and sobbed for 15 minutes over
the matching leotard. I decided to quit when I sprained my
back trying to hide boxes of baby clothes behind the
waterheater without recreating the Kent State riot in my
I closed the garage door, stumbled into
the house, and collapsed on the couch. When I reached into
my pocket and pulled out a handful of money, I wondered
what my husband would say when he found the children's
belongings hidden all over the garage.
At least I had more closet space, I
thought as I crammed the money back into my pocket, but
that was the toughest eight dollars I ever made.
Debbie Farmer is a nationally syndicated humor columnist.
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