YARD SAAAAAAAAALING! TAKES ME AWWAAAAAAAAY!
It’s nice outside! And that can only mean one thing: People are gonna put a bunch of crap on their lawn and I’m gonna buy it!
Yesterday was my birthday, and since it’s coming up on finals week and Annie has inhuman amounts of homework to do most every weeknight, we compromised by commemorating my fearless escape from Mum’s uterus by spending the morning on a laid-back bargain hunt, gallivanting from ratty lawn to sad garage in search of smelly books, action figures with wiggly limbs, cartoon-emblazoned coffee mugs that decrease in ironic amusement with each usage, unlabeled VHS tapes with guaranteed tracking issues, and what have you. We even went so far as to purchase a local newspaper, circling sales that sounded promising and entering the locations into Google Maps to print up a sensible and reasonably circuitous route. In past excursions of this sort, I’ve eschewed planning in favor of just tooling around town and stopping whenever we saw old people squinting at things on wood-paneled folding tables, but Annie likes to have a plan, and as long as I don’t have be terribly involved in this stage of the trip, that’s A-OK with me. We went to bed, secure in the knowledge that all we had to do tomorrow was get up, print out our plans, and embark.
We arose a smidge later than planned, but we still were able to hit all our destinations in a timely manner. I took my trusty camera along, with the intent of posting pictures of the yard sales, but once I got out there I felt weird about it, especially when there weren’t many people milling around, which generally there weren’t. It’s pretty early in the yard sale season, which for me is a prime time to go out and look at them, as the crowds are scant and the weather is agreeable, and I like neither people nor heat. The plan is to do a lot of yard saling this year, so maybe as the season progresses and I become less conspicuous in the crowd I’ll snap a few exciting photos of the unkempt yards and unwanted belongings of strangers. As it stands today, you’re only getting pictures of what we actually bought, and that, you greedy simpering pigs, will have to suffice.
Google Maps assigned a letter to each of our intended destinations, so rather than post the addresses of random families online, I’ll simply refer to each sale by their letter, our apartment being “A”, and being that we didn’t seem to be selling our own unwanted belongings back to ourselves this morning, we opted to go right on to Destination B, located just down the road in Old Town not a mile away. Quite frankly, I don’t even remember what the deal was with the place, but apparently it didn’t look promising, as we promptly pulled a uey and set off for our next destination.
It’s not that I’m averse to stopping at sketchy-looking yard sales. It really isn’t. Otherwise, I would have stopped taking part in this particular pastime long ago. Granted, there will always be yard sales that you glance at and drive on by, whistling nervously and avoiding eye contact, or perfectly non-creepy yard sales that you bypass due to an obvious overabundance of baby stuff, but encountering weird people and looking at their filthy crap is half the fun. All the same, you want the first yard sale of the day to be, if not ideal, then at least approachable. You can’t ease into the hunt with a yard sale that consists of a 400-pound noseless man in a Bratz tee-shirt with a swastika tattooed on his forehead sitting in front of a TV tray with a rusty meat thermometer and a Billy Ocean cassette on it. I’m not saying that’s what we found waiting for us at Destination B, but whatever it was, we didn’t like it, so we pressed on.
We decided that we’d stop at any unplanned yard sales that we happened to encounter en route to our notated destinations, and immediately following Destination B we came across a more welcoming (and more populated, which always helps) yard sale, though we found nothing of immediate interest and decided to take our leave of Old Town and hit the interstate.
Destination C in Bangor was pleasantly shaded and moderately populated, mostly with elderly people and a middle aged woman who kept asking the proprietor about a really broken-looking pair of electric hair clippers. A half-decent assortment of things, but nothing I really wanted, and the yard sale guy gave me an unsettling and implacable sense of deja vu, although Annie said he was perfectly nice. She is collecting Choose Your Own Adventures and found one she didn’t have, purchasing it for fifty cents, which is kind of steep for a yard sale paperback but we’re not known to haggle. On my part, I simply can’t do it. For some it’s an essential yard sale hunting skill, and it’s not like it isn’t a widely accepted and expected aspect of the experience, but it just strikes me as rude for some reason. Haggling scares me. A wheeler and dealer I am not. Annie can do it if pressed, but really, what else is one going to do with fifty cents? A dollar or more would have been a problem.
PURCHASED: Choose Your Own Adventure paperback, “Hyperspace” ($ .50)
Destination D turned out to be a sign at the end of a long scary driveway that said CLOSED. Most infuriating. By the time we reached Destination E, a nonexistent yard sale in the middle of a bewildering trailer park that contrary to the usual was actually disturbing for its cleanliness, we were starting to get a little frustrated, especially when we became momentarily adrift in the midst of a trailer park layout so convoluted it actually had a rotary in the middle of it. Somehow we managed to make our way to Destination F, situated in the heart of what appeared to be a subsidized housing type of place. Nothing much at this one, but one of their (very friendly) neighbors happened to be having a little yard sale as well, and while there I noticed a VHS called “Jurassic Giants”, a tape that is either a crappy dinosaur cartoon or a crappy dinosaur documentary. It’s unclear. On the tape itself, whichever high-class joint manufactured this thing misspelled it “Jurassic Gaints”, which seems like some unholy crossbreeding of “gunts” and “taints”. Needless to say, I purchased it, for a princely fifty cents, and was delighted when the lady who sold it to me mentioned the funny spelling mistake of her own accord. “Jurassic Gaints! That always cracked me up!”. I felt a little bad depriving her of such a failsafe kneeslapper, but I guess we all have to make sacrifices in this life. She was also kind enough to break my ten-dollar bill. As long I’ve I’ve been doing this sort of thing, I still never have any ones or change on me when I go looking for swell lawn deals. Anyway, now both of us had finally bought something, so we could rest easy, secure in the knowledge that if we found nothing else of interest, at least Annie had a moldy kids book and I had “Jurassic Gaints”.
PURCHASED: “Jurassic Gaints” ($.50)
That took care of all of our Bangor destinations, which meant that it was time to head deep into the bowels of Brewer. Brewer could safely be considered Bangor’s ne’er-do-well brother. Not that Bangor’s an angelic A-student or anything, but compared to Brewer he looks like National Honor Society material. Despite that generally accurate stigma, I’ve come to appreciate Brewer over the past year while driving there to work every morning, much as I once developed a certain begrudging fondness for the even stinkier Lewiston while I worked there a couple years back. Something told me there would be better yard sales in Brewer, as I figured the people who lived there would own weirder things. For the most part, this line of thinking proved sound.
On our way to Destination G, which we had a hard time getting to and eventually found completely by happenstance and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we encountered another little surprise yard sale closer to the main drag, and we stopped to check it out. Apart from a nice dinette set that we had no intention of purchasing, it looked to be a bust, but then I found a VHS copy of something called “The Feel Better Friends with Rosenshontz and Pandy”.
Rosenshontz is a kid-oriented folk duo that Annie and I have had some recent and favorable experience with. As some of you know, we recently purchased a used car, and had nothing but problems with it for the first month and a half of ownership (it seems to work fine now, though). The main problem with it was that it quite often wouldn’t start. It would turn over, so it had nothing to do with the battery, but rather frequently just plain wouldn’t start, leaving me stranded in various locations, usually my workplace. Given that we’re currently dependent on one automobile, this wouldn’t do. These problems all took place while under the warranty, so thankfully we didn’t have to pay for any of the repairs, but it was insanely angering, and after the fourth or fifth time it happened I treated myself to an uncharacteristic hissy fit over the phone at first the guy who sold us the car, and then the mechanic who kept failing to fix or even figure out what was wrong with this pile of worthless metal we’d be shelling out for over the next few years. Anyway, whenever we’d take the car back to the garage, they’d let us borrow another car, which was awfully nice of them, as well as the least they could do, and one night on my way home from dropping the shithole car off for the eight zillionth time, I numbly flipped on the radio in the loaner car (a terrible-on-gas but refreshingly easy-to-start Chevy Malibu), and was unexpectedly treated to a rollicking acoustic number about how noses are important (“They’re not there to be good-lookin’/They’re there to let you know what’s cookin’!”. It was being performed live to an appreciative audience of children, which focussed on topics such as tickling, hippos, being scared of the dark, and many other potentially confounding concepts that may chance to cross a whippersnapper’s mind from time to time. Intrigued, I took out the cassette and looked at it. It was an 1981 album yuckily titled “Tickles You” by some group I’d never heard of called Rosenshontz.
My attitude gradually changed from “first they sell me a car that doesn’t start, now I have to listen to this crap” to “well, it is kind of catchy, if asinine” to “this is the only music I want to listen to for the rest of my life”. Annie pretty much loved it right off the bat. All the tunes are catchy, well-written, and even poignant at times. Their song “Hippopotamus Rock” is, seriously, one of my favorite songs of all time. I doubt you’d be able to download it or even buy it off iTunes, so I don’t know how you’re gonna get to hear it, but trust me, it rules.
Though we badly wanted to own it, we didn’t feel right taking the Rosenshontz tape when we eventually returned the loaner car and reunited with Ol’ Unreliable, fearing that the tape belonged to one of the garage employees’ kids, but now we have a taped copy of completely new-to-us Rosenshontz songs! Replete with Pandy, whoever the frig that is! All for, yet again, fifty cents!
PURCHASED: Rosenshontz and Pandy VHS ($.50)
So we get to Destination G, and not only is there more stuff to look through than we’ve found anywhere else, but a couple of little boys have set up a lemonade stand! Yay, kids still do this! Annie managed to sucker a dollar out of me so we could buy two glasses of reasonably cold lemonade. I overheard one of the boys saying to the other that “I think we have a googol dollars now” shortly thereafter. Apparently they’d been busier earlier in the day.
After flinging the remainder of my drink into the boys’ faces upon discovering that the lemonade wasn’t freshly squeezed, I looked through some boxes and was happy to come across a few Nintendo Gamecube games. Not surprisingly, they were geared towards the younger set, but then again we don’t come to Nintendo games for their mature, adult-oriented nature. Of the three for sale, I settled on a game based on the Pixar movie “The Incredibles”. It could be a complete piece of crap for all I know, but three bucks for a Gamecube game is very reasonable indeed. Within mere minutes, Brewer had already soundly trumped Bangor’s meager yard sale offerings, to say nothing of Old Town. We will most assuredly be including Brewer in our pilgrimages going forward.
PURCHASED: Two (2) cups of lemonade ($1.00), “The Incredibles” GC game ($3.00)
It’s not really interesting enough to show a picture of.
Destination H was the last on our list, and it was contained in a garage that Annie correctly accused of smelling like “powder and disability”. A depressing affair, consisting of wares so bland that I can barely remember enough to fudge a description, save a sturdy-looking ice scraper that I briefly contemplated and a plastic bin filled with CDs, every one of which was released in 1997. Paula Cole, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Sarah Maclahclachlachcan. That type of thing. A briefly diverting retrospect of the not-especially-dynamic music of the late ’90s, to be sure, but nothing we cared to own. We had to buy something, though, because we were the only people there, and the woman running it looked sad. You run into these situations sometimes, and you have to either wait for someone else to show up and make a break for it, or try to find something cheap that you don’t hate. Thankfully, I found an elastic-bound bundle of four rewritable blank CD-Rs for a dollar, which isn’t a bad deal at all, and I make CDs for the car all the time so I was rather happy to find these. There’s always something kind of disappointing about buying something that’s actually useful at a yard sale, but it was either that or Savage Garden.
PURCHASED: Four (4) rewritable CD-Rs ($1.00)
Again, no way am I wasting bandwidth on a picture of that.
So that was it for our Google Maps route, but shortly after departing for home, we saw a florescent sign affixed to a telephone pole advertising a big yard sale at the Brewer Middle School. I’d seen an ad in the paper advertising this but for some reason hadn’t included it in our route, so we followed the signs to the school. There were a lot of cars parked there, which seemed a decent sign, and we went inside.
You know those moments when you’re yard saling or even just looking through stuff at Goodwill or Salvation Army, and your eyes light on something, and in one heavenly moment every second you’ve wasted in thrift stores pawing through Johnny Mathis Christmas records and D.A.R.E. tee-shirts and broken Go-bots and musty Harlequin romances and board games with pieces missing is immediately and perfectly justified? You actually find a treasure, a thing that reminds you why you love looking through old, cheap, pre-owned junk. It’s easy to make mistakes when you throw things away. We’ve all taken a tee-shirt to Goodwill that we’ve later sorely missed when we remember how comfy it was to wear to bed, or in desperate moments sold a favorite CD or DVD to Bullmoose. In places like the gymnasium of the Brewer Middle School, home of the Brewer Witches, the softball team for whom this sale was intended to benefit, here is where we reconnect with our old things, where our own mistakes are made right and inexpensively nullified by the mistakes of people we will never meet, but whose stuff is now in our house, and that is weird and that is beautiful.
I fucking found a talking Ed Grimley doll.
I could not have been more pleased to find a trunk full of gold and penis extensions. What idiot gave this away, and how can I chastise and embrace them simultaneously? The doll itself is in pretty great shape, although the talking mechanism sounds all insane and sped-up, as usually seems to be the case with old pull-string talking dolls, but if you gently guide the string back into the hole rather than just letting it get sucked into his back, you can totally tell it’s Martin Short.
Assuming I’m deciphering it correctly, Ed says six phrases: “I’m going completely mental, I must say!”, “Oh give me a break!”, “I’m as doomed as doomed can be, you know!”, “Ow! Jeez, that’s a pain that’s gonna linger!”, “This is like a joke, I must say!”, and “This is like my luckiest of lucky days!”. There’s some kind of crud in his right eye that I can’t seem to clean off, but he’s in good condition and doesn’t smell or anything. Furthermore, you could handily defend yourself against attacks by stabbing your assailant in the eye with Ed’s hair, assuming you happened to be wandering around town with your Ed Grimley doll.
I imagine more than a few children were hospitalized by this horrifying, Martin Short shaped shiv.
Here are a couple more pictures of my wonderful new toy:
“This iced tea container makes a most excellent and refreshingly convenient podium, I must say!”
I cannot wait to cuddle up to my new Ed Grimley doll and watch my new copy of “Jurassic Gaints” with him! This is the best birthday I’ve ever had.
I also bought a pretty cool mug at the Brewer Middle School sale, but I forgot to take a picture of it.
So I take my doll and mug up to the front, ready and willing to pay whatever price was demanded of me, regardless of how extravagant, and the girl matter-of-factly grunts “Dollar.”
Dollar! Well, how do you like that! In a dream I couldn’t fathom a better deal than that!
PURCHASED: Talking Ed Grimley Doll and Funny Mug With Mexican Guy On It (Dollar!)
Well obviously I couldn’t have asked for a better capper to a fun day of yard sales than that. It’s always best to leave on a high note, and it’s not like we were gonna find anything better if we kept looking, unless Martin Short himself happened to be making a live tour of Brewer yard sales dressed as Ed Grimley, and even then it’s unlikely that Mr. Short would have agreed to come live with me for the rest of my life if I gave him a dollar, though if I really turned on the charm and promised to make him dinner I imagine I could at least convince him to come over and watch “Jurassic Gaints” with me. Man, I gotta stop thinking about this. It’s making me too sad that it won’t happen.
Below is a pictorial summation of our yard sale spoils for April 26th, 2008. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and go buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need and tell ME about it sometime, why don’t ya?!
TOTAL EXPENDITURE: $7.50
The iced tea mix didn’t come from a yard sale, just to clarify.