There are certain things I never wanted to do more than once in my life: Get married, go through “the change,” contract meningitis, have a tooth pulled, visit Branson, Mo., and put on a garage sale.
I’m batting a thousand where marriage, menopause, meningitis and molars are concerned.
Unfortunately, a family wedding forced me to return to Branson. But with God, the minister and 12 blood relatives as my witnesses, I vowed never to go back.
That, of course, leaves the garage sale.
On a hot Saturday in the summer of 1995, a day that would live in infamy if I hadn’t completely blocked the date from my mind, we had our first-ever garage sale.
Five minutes after it was over, I flung my weary body on the brown and orange floral sofa bed we couldn’t GIVE away and said to my husband, “If I ever suggest we do this again, you have my permission to shoot me as I clearly will have gone mad and should be put down like a rabid dog! I’ll put it in writing, so you don’t go to jail.”
“But, we made $400!” he said, fanning a wad of sweaty bills that had come from God knows where.
“Great,” I replied. “That will almost pay my chiropractor and psychiatrist’s bills!”
Let’s face it, folks. Having a garage sale is hard work, physically and mentally.
First, there’s the hunting and gathering, scouring every nook and cranny of your house to find something to sell.
For most people, this is a piece of cake. For me, it’s like being put on a rack and waterboarded naked while being force-fed raw liver and Yanni music.
“We can’t sell that tablecloth,” I’d say. “That was the one Aunt Enid gave us for our wedding, remember?”
“But it’s still in the box,” my husband would counter. “And you loathe damask!”
(OK, clearly this is a hypothetical conversation. The day my husband utters the word “damask” — or “loathe,” for that matter — pigs will sprout wings and fly to the Ozark hills.)
My point is, I tend to have a hard time letting things go.
Take clothes, for instance. The rule of thumb is, if you haven’t worn it in a year, give it away. But the rule doesn’t take into account the three different sizes of clothing hanging in my closet: The size I am now, the smaller size I want to be and the larger size I wore months ago. You can’t apply a stupid one-year rule to a yo-yo dieter. Ask Oprah. I’m sure she’ll back me up.
Eventually, something shifts in my brain and I go from not wanting to sell anything into full-tilt EVERYTHING MUST GO liquidation mode.
“You’re going to sell the casserole dish?” my spouse would say. “You just used it last night!”
“I don’t care,” I’d snap, throwing it in the box. “We need more kitchen stuff. People love it. Besides, I loathe casseroles. They’re laden with carbs.”
So, we amass our white elephant inventory, arrange it on long metal tables and can’t park in our garage for days. We test all those stupid electronic gadgets I bought for Christmas — like the whirlpool foot spa and shiatsu massage cushion — to see if they still work.
Then, I place the ad in the paper (omigod, we’re committed) and make signs for the yard and street corners, attaching Mylar balloons to attract attention.
I worry that, after all that exhausting work, nobody will come. But they do. And an hour early, to boot!
Then, there’s the bartering, the bane of the garage sale holder’s existence.
“Will you take five bucks for this?” someone will ask.
“For the shiatsu massage cushion, are you kidding?” I reply. “I paid $79.99 for that thing last Christmas and it’s been used twice. Twenty bucks. Firm.”
“How about seven?,” they’ll counter.
“Oh, alright,” I’ll sigh, feeling like a schmuck.
It continues like that all day. The garage heats up like a sauna, my lower lumbar aches, and seven hours later I’m making my husband promise to commit euthanasia if I ever say the words “garage sale” again.
But stuff happens, like 15 years of accumulation and a kitchen remodel that requires the prompt purging of the attic (don’t ask).
Which is why we are having a garage sale in a couple of weeks. I’m dreading it so much I’m thinking about putting it all out on the curb and going to Branson instead.
— Cathy Hamilton is a 54-year-old empty nester, wife, mother and author. She can be reached at 832-6319.