Ah yes ... spring is here. Well ... it's near. At least I think it is. Anyway, back to "spring is here." Springtime. Spring forward. Spring into action. Spring cleaning. Spring "bored"?
More spring cleaning. Spring, spring, spring. Yippie!!!
Pulling weeds, planting flowers, mowing the lawn ... er ... make that cleaning the lawn first, then mowing the lawn (Our dog, Cocoa, drops her own version of "cocoa" bits on our lawn enough to rival the mine fields of '60s-era Saigon). But aside from all that, and giving the car a good ol' washing, I associate springtime with garage sales. Yes, I do! Oh, yeah. Nothing like a good ol' American neighborhood garage sale to kick off the spring season, I always say.
Garage sales. What fun! What a way to clean the house. What a way to socialize. What a way to make a few bucks. What a big pain in the ass!!!
Garage sales. When we lived in Pensacola, Fla., everyone had a garage sale. Not just once or twice, but three or four times a year. Everyone. In Pensacola in particular, having a garage sale was indiscriminate of professional stature and well-being. Lawyers, doctors, CEOs, CFOs, dishwashers, floor cleaners, it didn't matter. Come one, come all.
Garage sales have a mind of their own too. They're also without prejudice. Sure are. They brutalize all home owners. All homeowners of any race or religious belief. Garage sales don't care. Yup. Regardless of profession, creed or color, garage sales assume a life of their own and punish us all the same.
First, they make you sweat. All that "stuff" doesn't put itself on the lawn and driveway, you know. Then they build you up. "Hey look, Honey! Just look at the money we're gonna make. Oh boy!" Sure, just enough money to buy a bottle of cheap booze to gush down your throat and then pour over your head as you smash your head against the garage door wondering what possibly could have possessed you to have such a self-abusive exhibit of treasure-cum-trash in the first place. And believe me, at that point, there ain't no bottle big enough anyway. Then, garage sales humiliate you. Beat you down and embarrass you. Selling clothing for 25 cents. What a big lift. What an ego booster.
Well, we never had a garage sale in Pensacola. Nor did we have one in Salisbury, Maryland. No, no, no. We wanted to save that distinctive honor for Carson City. You betcha! So, two years ago, we did it. Uh huh ... We did it, alright. "Oh boy, Honey, just look at all the money we're gonna make!"
See, we lived in a house in Maryland that was more than 800 square feet larger than the one we live in now. Over 3,300 square feet of what I call "elastic" house in Maryland. Elastic house. Know why I call it elastic house? Because we grew into it for the same reason an overweight person wears elastic pants -- to growwww into them and still feel like they can fit into their clothes. It's like "Hey, look at this. I can wear my elastic pants and not feel like I weigh 300 pounds! Wow!"
So for us in Maryland, that proclamation became, "Hey, look at this. We can save lots and lots of stuff and never have to worry about the waistline of our house bursting over its beltline! Wow!" And that worked, until we moved into our smaller house in Carson City. Mommy!!!!!!!!!!!!! We still can't walk into our garage without an injury.
Well, back to our garage sale. One week before this highly anticipated "Woodstock" of garage sales was to take place, we pulled it all out. Boxes and boxes of coffee cups. Coffee cups from all over the country, dishes, pots, pans, pasta makers, coffeemakers, radios, books, CDs, videos, DVDs, LP records, men's clothes, women's clothes, children's clothes, toys, games, lawn and garden equipment. A real Noah's Ark of ... of ... well ... of crap. Of the good type mind you, but crap nonetheless.
But even though we didn't want it anymore, why wouldn't other people want our stuff? We expected other people to want our stuff. And why not??? It was once our stuff. Ours. Doesn't that mean something? Wouldn't it mean something to someone else? But then another headache would later surface for us: What to do with the stuff that wouldn't sell? Charity, of course, but hey, at that time we still had dollar signs flashing neon in our eyes.
And the things you put up with. The second customer we had that morning (our first customers, a young couple, sorta crept up on us at 4:30 in the morning while we were setting up, with a "Whatcha got?" greeting). At that time of the day, what we had was a lack of sleep. Nothing more.
Anyway, back to our second customer. This guy buys a 75-cent saw and hands me a $100 bill. Folks, it was 7 o'clock in the morning! I've been told by retailers at later times of the day that they couldn't even change a $20 bill, let alone a hundred. Even the U.S. Postal Services have turned back a twenty on me before.
So John DiMambro is supposed to have change for a hundred skin at 7 in the morning? You bet! Yessir! Ha ... ha ... I had it with me. I was told of such lecherous reptiles. So I reached into my pocket and pulled out the change. Neah, neah, n'neah neah!!! And sometime later another person - this time a woman - pulled out a hundred for a $2.00 purchase. Damn the torpedoes, man, I still had the change.
At yet another time, some cool cat started to engage me in a conversation like he wanted to be my next best friend, but I noticed he had a copy of the "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman" video I was selling for $1 in his hand. Then, after five minutes of conversation, I can feel the crescendo coming. The drum sticks were now rolling over the snare, building in volume ... louder, louder ... a few punctuated beats more ... building, building ... and then a cymbal crash. "Would you take 50 cents for this?" My mind couldn't take it anymore. I was beaten down. Humiliated. Embarrassed. Left on the side of the road a broken-down, beaten and disgraced man. "Sure," I said. "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman." Have fun, you cheap tin can of a man. I hope it's better for you than it was for me.
My wife and I called it quits. My daughter was smart. She stayed in the house most of the time. Just as well. I couldn't bear for her to see me laid out to rest like a sword-fallen, modern-day conquistador. My wife told me that she caught some women actually switching price tags on my daughter's kiddie clothes, and called them on the pavement on it, too. Switching price stickers for a difference of 50 cents to a dollar???
When that morning was over, so was our willpower. We were exhausted, more in mind than in body. We gave all that was left over to charities, and felt good about it, too. Am I glad we experienced it all? Sure. Will we do it again? Let me put it to you this way: I'd rather have my toes drilled, wired, and then fastened to a boulder overlooking Lake Tahoe as I hang upside down from a height of 1,000 feet or more. And then drop.
n John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.