Saturday, October 11, 2008
we had a yard sale today. I spent 25 bucks on an ad in the local paper, then took an ad on Craigslist. I know Craigslist is legit, but it is hard not to think that an ad for a yard sale there will bring people interested in Star Trek-themed threesomes or some such, because didn't I know the code??? happily, it appears only yard sale enthusiasts came by. and sure that enthusiasts they are. I set the time for 8-12, but I knew someone would appear by 7:30. which was the case, if not earlier. I was still hauling stuff out. the ads listed books (a modest thinning), furniture, clothing and, what the heck, outsider art. meaning that which I myself created. I weeded some of my more egregious paintings, honest experiments, and just piled them up. wouldn't you know it, one of the 1st people to arrive asked to see the outsider art. fairly speaking, I do not think you can consciously create outsider art, you have to be oblivious to that idea. so to use the term, I was applying marketing rather than a description. I like my visual work, tho cognizant of its limitations. and as I noted, this was not my A stuff. the woman looked thru the pile of stuff with interest and by gum selected 5. when she asked the price I said a dollar a piece. so that is my first sale, woo hoo. Beth got rid of a lot of jewelry. most of the people who came were older folk for whom yard sales apparently are a regular entertainment. one woman was interested in a silver whatsis. almost everything was selling for a buck but that does not mean that one should not be cautious. she asked if we had toothpaste. I think the letters H=U=H-N appeared on my forehead, because she directly explained that she wanted the toothpaste to polish the item. if it polished up okay, she would divest herself of that dollar. I fetched toothpaste and she said, oh, Tom's of Maine, that might not work. and I nodded knowingly and said, probably not abrasive enough, and she said yeah. but luckily it did indeed polish the item, and she bought it, and several other things. by 9:00 it seemed like the game was up. it was a brisk but electrifyingly bright and intense autumn morning. one man bought largely of the poetry books. I only got rid of ones that had been succeeded by collected editions, or a few books that I had multiple copies of, and a few stinkers (nothing by you, Dear Writing Reader). one other guy bought poetry books. it is a reassuring pleasure to see poetry books find an audience. a man asked how much for my stamp collection. Beth said 10 bucks, the guy said, would you take 8. Beth said no, so the guy turned away. a while later he handed her 10 bucks. I think of the bartering scene in Life of Brian, the formal code. there is a chance that my collection could have been worth something at one time. I had a number of older stamps that I found (age 10) amongst family papers and stuff. and my friend in high school gave me his collection, which he claimed contained some international rarities. last spring we investigated the possibility of selling this marvelous collection (realize that in my infinite 10 year old wisdom, I might have a time or 2, used Scotch Tape to affix my stamps in my album, but still), only to be told that there was ZERO market for stamps outside of a precious few. we pulled back a number of items, a table that belonged to Beth's father, a chair of my father. I had a book, that was in my parents' collection, that was about the hurricane of 1938 in the northeast. this was a devastating storm that arrived without warning. a car pulled up and an elderly man got out with difficulty from the passenger side. the driver jolted me by superficially resembling my oldest brother. I will only allude to familial rupture here, tho perhaps that is a reference. the guy was taking his father out for a run at some yard sales and what not. let us just say that the aforementioned rupture had some little to do with sons and fathers, and expect no foot notes. this elderly man picked up the hurricane book. I knew it would be of interest. I said, I am sure you remember that hurricane. I did not say it loud enough, even tho my father was deaf, but the son said, oh yes, he remembers. I mentioned that my father drove home from work in that storm, drove a co-worker home. he remembered driving along Storrow Drive in Cambridge, alongside the Charles River, and seeing trees being flattened in the wind. the man asked for the price and I took his dollar. Beth did not realize that this book was in our collection, and wanted the book, but saw the value it held for the old man. a pleasant chatty woman poked thru the goods and conversed with us. the mailman had just delivered the mail, in which was a letter from Christian Children's Fund (we sponsor a child). Beth mentioned that the US now has THREE CCF offices, the only 1st world country that partakes of CCF (which is shameful, is it not?). Beth explained that she was not christian, but appreciated the work CCF does. the woman said, I'm not Christian either, I am a Catholic. which effectively shows how a fundamentalist concept of Christianity has absconded with the norm. a woman and young daughter looked at a bed that we had. I slept in it as a child and it was not new to me. Erin also slept in it, when he was still of plausible size to fit it. it was the sort of thing we wanted rid of, it just takes space, and which did not seem likely to move. but the woman was excited to find it, what with the economy, etc. she wanted to come back with her husband, which happily happened. he wanted to put it together to make sure the pieces all worked. situation proved green. they packed the springs on the roof of their car, yikes, tied it with electrical cord, and presumably got it home. earlier a car arrived with a couple and a young woman with, perhaps, Downs syndrome. she was very direct, and entertained by everything. she wore a highly decorated bicycle helmet. at the same time an older man arrived on his bicycle. he too looked thru things while wearing his helmet. Beth asked, are you here for the bookcase? the young woman's father was pleased to find a book on mechanical drawing, and handed me a dollar. the young woman said to me loudly, he's a real wise guy, and laughed. the man gave me a quick look to see how I took her behavivour. so that is how the front part of the day went. and yes, we recouped the price of the ad. the sale precluded our going to Lowell, where there was a gathering of poets and presses. I hope to hear a report.