Despite the fact that I spent Friday morning on my ass and earned only $10 does not dishearten me on this sunny Saturday morning. Everyone was at work yesterday, but today is ripe, I can feel it! I made another post on Craigslist advertising my sale to stir up the beehives of sale hunters everywhere. This will be the day. I screwed up my metaphor and created a beehive full of sale hunters. Here we go:
8:30am- I am set up and ready to go as advertised. I am also very, very tired.
8:37am- A young couple stops by and checks out the vacuum I have now marked down to $5. “5 bucks, no way,” the guy says. I tell him there’s something wrong with it but I’m not sure what, so it’s priced as an extremely low-risk investment. I tell him it ‘sort of’ works, which is entirely true. He asks for a demonstration, which I deny. I think the demonstration of a $5 vacuum is its existence in physical space. If it doesn’t work he can turn it into a planter and it’s still worth the money. Before leaving, the couple sees a picture of two foxes that my mother-in-law donated to the sale:
The guy shows it to the girl and then they both laugh. I can’t tell if this is an inside joke between them (remember that time, with THE FOXES?!) or if they’re mocking me. Probably the latter. Now I wish the guy had purchased the vacuum and that it didn’t work.
8:40am- A woman pulls up to the sale and parks her car on the wrong side of the street, with one of her tires up on my lawn. It looks like she’s delivering a heart transplant and is running very late. But I recognize the style. She’s a real garage saler. When she sees a sale, she stops. There’s no performing a safe and slow u-turn and parking like a civilized human being. It’s first-come first-served in the garage sale world, and the second you’re taking your sweet-ass time parking, someone else is walking away with a perfectly good three-legged table. She doesn’t buy anything.
8:51am- The young couple returns, and the guy ogles the vacuum some more. I tell him I will give him the demonstration after all. We go inside, I plug it in, and show him how it ‘sort of’ works. It does pick up 1/3 of the debris a normal vacuum would, but it also makes a hideous, unearthly screaming sound, like a Transformer with its arm caught in a car crusher. He buys it for $5 and I am happy. My wife is angry that I sold a $200 vacuum for $5, but I explain that I didn’t just sell the vacuum, I got rid of a problem, and was paid to do it. Now that stupid thing is in that guy’s house, spewing dust in the air and shrieking, and he’ll think twice before laughing at a stranger’s cute animal picture.
9:05am- I’m tempted to bring out some of my bicycles, or perhaps a videogame system, just to entice people to stop by the sale. Then I’ll inform them, “Oh, those aren’t for sale. Sorry.” But it’ll be too late! They’ll be caught in my web of salesmanship, which consists largely of nodding and telling people I will accept any amount offered.
This is sort of a quintessential garage sale item. It’s a welcome mat in great shape, but it’s about as far from Christmas as you can get. I’m offering it for $1, which I think is a great price because it’s like new. Put it outside your back door, where no one cares how seasonal your wiping mat is! Or better yet, put it outside your front door for a hilarious gag. Just fucking buy it.
9:07am- A woman buys a book for $1, but more importantly my wife brings out the big gun- a traveler’s acoustic guitar. It’s the perfect instrument for a wandering hippie who could never afford the $80 we’re asking for it, but it’ll get people to stop.
9:16am- As I sit and literally twiddle my thumbs, I realize that when a yard sale is unsuccessful it’s just you sitting among your own junk, wishing you had never purchased any of it in the first place. Who needs anything, really?
9:20am- My friend Owen brings over a box of DVDs to sell and I promptly buy three of them, bringing my earnings back to zero. But I now own American Beauty, Seven, and L.A. Confidential, and it’s not like you can find those movies at every single place that has ever sold movies! I realize (out loud) after buying them that it’s a veritable tour de force of Kevin Spacey. My wife is incensed. And not the perfumey kind.
9:40am- A man is walking door-to-door putting up pizza flyers. He browses the sale, and I mentally decide there’s no way I’m letting a poor guy whose job is hanging pizza flyers buy any of my garbage. After he leaves I realize that he didn’t hang a pizza flyer on our door. Guess he made the same decision I did after looking over the sale.
Is your satanic ritual missing the perfect pitcher to pour sacrificial blood on the altar? Well, look no more! This is another donated item to our sale, and I just realized how immensely creeptastic it is. Why did they try to make it look like it was made from dinosaur skin? If this thing hasn’t been used in some dark rite I’ll eat that goddamn Christmas welcome mat.
9:50am- Literally no sooner do I realize how creepy the above pitcher is when a woman stops at the sale, makes her way directly to that pitcher, looks it (and only it) over, and then leaves without saying a word. Close, but just not evil enough. Dammit.
9:55am- A woman calls this dresser cute:
As far as cute things go, I consider this dresser pretty low on my personal list. It’s unpainted and unfinished. In fact, it’s an inanimate object used to store clothes. It makes me wonder… if this dresser is cute to her, what is a newborn fuzzy duckling? Maybe she’s never seen a duckling, or a puppy, or even a sticker of a cartoon princess, and this is how she set her bar of cuteness. I wish I could follow her around and wait until she sees a kitten and her head explodes.
10:10am- I put signs up in the wrong places. I feel it in my bones. We should have been doing some brisk business by now. But it’s not too late. I’m going to go make some new signs, and put them on busier streets! It’s not too late! No, it’s not! Operation: ‘New, Better Signs’ begins.
10:33am- I return from Operation: ‘New, Better Signs’ to discover that my wife has sold $70 worth of stuff. I can’t believe it. Well, I guess we discovered what the real problem is with the sale; it’s the slouchy guy who looks like a recently paroled arsonist overseeing everything. No, that can’t be it. Beginner’s luck.
10:39am- My friend Mitch stops by looking for books to tear up for a comedy sketch. We agree that tearing up a book is serious business, and the book in question should be pretty worthless. Luckily I have some. I look through my books and offer him The Comedy Bible, a book I read before I began doing stand-up, and if there’s one thing I learned from it, it’s to not bother reading The Comedy Bible before embarking on comedy. Mitch says the books have to look a certain way and then leaves.
10:41am- Another amazing coincidence. No sooner does Mitch leave when a man stops by and brings me The Comedy Bible. “Will you negotiate the price?” “Sure.” “How about one dollar?” The book is tagged at $1, and I tell him that. “I know. It was a joke.” The man points to the word ‘comedy’ in the title and gives me a garish grin. Maybe the book will help him.
This is a swing that my mother dropped by for us to sell. It looks fun, you hang it from a tree or awning, and two people can swing away! Problem is, the plastic around the hinges holding the swing to the frame is horribly cracked. Anyone who doesn’t want to immediately fall and get hurt should never ride this swing. Then I remember who I’m dealing with: The Master. Of course my mom donated this goddamn deathtrap to my sale. She knew she’d never sell it, and if she did manage to sell it, she’d be facing a lawsuit a few days later. So she drops this hot potato in my lap. I decide to give it away for free and see if any adventurous kids want it.
10:58am- Got a splinter in my hand. Maybe I’ll die out here.
11:14am- My daydreaming is interrupted by a peculiar squeaky sound. It only takes seconds for the rhythm to solve the mystery for me. Squeaky bed sex. My neighbors directly next door are having a nice late morning Saturday romp, and their window is open. They probably don’t think some sad man is sitting right outside, staring at the sidewalk, but he is! There are no customers, so I just stand there, surrounded by my unsellable junk, waiting them out.
11:25am- Parking spots are slim at this point (not from customers), and a man stops in the street and is clearly torn between my sale and the parallel parking job he’ll have to pull off to browse. He’s scanning my sale from his car. I feel like yelling at him, “Just do it, I won’t watch!” He drives off.
11:31am- A young man comes by and gives the nice thick cutting board I’m selling ($2) a thorough inspection. “How long have you had it?” He asks me. Kind of a peculiar question, and I decide to answer with what I feel is a better answer to a question he has not asked. “It’s never had any meat cut on it.” He nods, satisfied that some roundabout issue has been addressed. He balks at buying it but suggests he’ll come back. “How long will you be out here?” “A few more hours.” This is probably the saddest exchange of the entire sale. A man pretending to return for a $2 cutting board as not to hurt the seller’s feelings.
11:36am- Two meaty bro-dudes walk by and joke to each other about taking the swing. Take it, please. Take it take it take it take it. Of course they don’t.
12:33pm- Am I just loitering now?
12:45pm- I don’t think that guy is coming back for the cutting board.
12:52pm- One downside of having the little acoustic guitar out at the sale is that it’s turned my front yard into a tiny Guitar Center. People can’t help but pick it up and strum out a few chords even though they have no intention of buying it. A man plays it for some time and gives it an incredibly thorough inspection. One might think this was a boat he was about to circumnavigate the Earth in. Finally he gives me his analysis. “The neck’s bent, and there’s a dip down here by the bridge.” Despite these flaws he had no problem playing it for upwards of 15 minutes. I’m tempted to offer him the other guitar at our sale:
You can check the neck on her, straight as an arrow!
1:01pm- You know, yard sales aren’t really that bad. In a way they’re about community. We’re not only getting rid of our old, unwanted things, but we’re doing it by trading and bartering, and meeting our neighbors, and listening to them having sex. Despite all of my complaining I really think it’s been worthwhile. Of course, I’m contemplating this from the air-conditioned office where I’m playing video games while my wife runs the sale.
In the end we made $120. More than enough for this bad boy:
In the words of the British Special Forces group that I now feel I have so much in common with, ‘Who Dares, Wins’. And who knows, maybe this time next year you can score a sweet deal on a gently-used Weber grill in my front yard?