Oy Vey. Let me repeat that for emphasis........Oy vey, oy vey, Groan. Gasp, Screech, Sob. These words are issuing forth to you from the tattered fragments of a creature who once , quite recently, was some kind of functioning human being. No more. I fear I will never be the same since enduring and surviving my first and definitely last waking nightmare innocently referred to as a "Yard Sale".
Holy Moly, OMG and, to quote my father a non-Jewish Jew, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph". The Human race is truly insane. The idea that people willingly subject themselves to such horror......some even more than once........is totally beyond my comprehension. And, not only are the presenters of these events totally bonkers, but, from my observations, so are the attendees.
To properly explain my position I have to go back a few weeks and describe the tortures I, the proposed Seller, have endured. First, I was led through my house by a hired "Organizer" whose purpose was to help me select and part with things........something I have never been able to do. I started collecting my treasures when I was young and was constantly putting things like interesting pebbles in my pockets. I later graduated to saving my pennies to buy things.....one of the first of which was the most gorgeously realistic toy revolver/cap shooter for which I surrendered my entire savings of 25 cents. I would still have it to this day were it not for the fact that my Mother was getting worried about my fondness for deadly weapons and was not particularly thrilled by my ambition to grow up to be a Cowboy (or an Indian or possibly a common criminal) and she somehow surreptitiously disposed of my gun and collapsing knife collection when I turned my addiction to Photos of the Big Bands and Frank Sinatra. But I digress......
I was able to collect a lot of great art during my years as a starving artist since all of us were poor as churchmice and the only presents we could give each other were pieces of our own creativity. And, during my 20 years of traveling the world I managed to bring home mementos of my trips......sometimes a thing as simple as a particularly lovely stone from the beach below Taormina, Sicily, and other times a gorgeous majolica platter from Ravello, Italy or salad servers carved from an ox horn in Bali. Then there were the mementos inherited from my family which alone could fill the Superdome.......and every crumb was precious to me, so imagine my horror when Ms. Organizer began to seize items from my shelves, stuff them into boxes and say heartless things like, "You don't need this." The anguish was intense or worse.
However, after a while I began to tune into the charm of reducing the clutter so that one could actually SEE the things that remained on my shelves. I managed to join in the gathering process, even though I suspected I might sneak back during the night and rescue a few of the items I still coveted. After all, they were still in boxes stacked in every room in the house plus the front porch covered in a tarpaulin,,,,,not the pleasantest way to live....but it would just be till Saturday.......right?
Except that, after crawling thru channels between stacks of boxes for days, the weekend arrived with rain forecast so the whole thing had to be postponed for week, whereupon there were another 7 days of crawling and another rainy weekend. And the following week was Thanksgiving, so that weekend (which was sunny) was out.
Each nite during these three weeks was spent not in restful sleep, but in anxiety and worry, plotting how to construct display tables out of the scrap drywall and lumber in my garage, how I was physically going to drag boxes and lumber around when I was incapable of picking up a 20 lb bag of birdseed anymore and, worse, yet, how was I going to price these precious artifacts so people would not have to sell a child or 2 to afford them. The nites may have been the worst.
And then came a weekend which was dubious weatherwise, but not actually forecast to rain on Saturday at any rate. So I called all of the people who had earnestly promised they would gladly help me when the big day finally came and found that, amazingly, things had come up and none of them could help me, gosh darn it and so sorry. So I had to hire Ms. Organizer for the day and she couldn't get there in time to set up the tables, but she would help unpack the boxes and display the mdse. Well, to trim a few pages from this endless epic, let me just say that by the time the first customers arrived we were still in the process and my back and assorted joints were threatening mutiny if I didn't lie down at once. To which I laughed and kept unpacking wildly, managing to display my gorgeous precious objects in such a way as to make them look like the most quintessential JUNK. Seeing them cast down there thusly, even I didn't want them.
And then there was the horror of the customers............one arrived with a Jewelers' loupe and proceeded to examine the bottoms of everything looking for valuable hallmarks I guess, looking for the Romanoff jewels, while wearing an expression of total disdain. He picked up a lovely carved stone box from Alaska and sneered, "how much?" "Three dollars", I quavered, whereupon he cast it back down and stomped off
to his car. Meanwhile a strange waif with hair painted /dyed 3 colors was slouching up the drive peering through puffy half-closed eyes. I did not want to speculate on what her night had been spent doing. This one idly picked up 2 or 3 things, replaced them on different tables and slouched off. At this point I could hardly care, having collapsed into a handy garden chair, carefully guarding my bag of ones, fives and tens, withdrawn from the bank under the impression that someone might offer me more than a quarter for something. And so it went. Finally a few people bought something for a dollar or even two Wow. I could hardly cram it into my pocket fast enough in case they changed their mind.
But amazingly enough, something that I had put on display for decoration but never expected to attract any interest were a bunch of my late partner's colorful abstract paintings which I had bought from her son fearing he would simply trash them. Quite a few of our few attendees were very interested and asked for prices. Cosmic joke. Before her death I had bought my favorite from her for $600. For once I decided to be smart about this. Most of the canvases were large, about 40 by 60, some were medium, 40 x45, and a few were smaller. A few were modestly framed, the rest just on stretchers. They would enhance any wall they got near...............I decided I wanted them on someone's walls if I had to give them away so I quoted between $15 and $30 and, wonder of wonders, one lovely lady who was an artist herself bought 3 as gifts for her family members. Another young couple wistfully singled out 2 or 3 and said they would come back. Damn......I wish I had given them the paintings right then, but I goofed. Ah, well, at least 3 of Peggy's lovelies will brighten some rooms somewhere. (I have hung as many here as I have walls for).
About 3 pm I had had it and so we staggered around and repacked everything into the boxes and returned them to the front porch from which they will go to some charity. I paid Ms. Organizer for her help and ended up only about $50 in the red.........a cheap lesson at twice the price. I spent the rest of the day and the subsequent week lying in my reclining chair panting quietly, wiping beads of perspiration from my forehead and being grateful that I was able to escape from hell after only 1 day.......the others on my block did it all again on Sunday!
As I said at the beginning......people are undoubtedly insane..............but not me.
The New Yorker covers: March 17, 1934
7 hours ago