You can’t say they didn’t warn me.
I’ve talked at length before about how going to estate sales feels more or less like you’re looting a stranger’s home. Everything in the house is basically set up the way they were before the people died; except for the occasional price tag and the herd of re-sellers literally elbowing you out of the way so they can be the first ones to get to Grandma’s fine jewelry, you’d hardly even know that something horrible happened here not too long ago and everyone’s probably really sad about it.
If you look closely you can start to get an idea of the people who lived there—you see a few books on invasive medical procedures and a pair of scissors that looks like you could carve someone up with it, and—OH GOD, what’s that?!
Lemme take a closer look and–
…oh, nevermind. (I guess if you’re going to cut off people’s limbs, you’re probably not laying down graph paper anyway.)
But then you start to notice the signs. Shelves packed with medicines that all have very complicated names, unused and now unneeded. Signs of neglect—a calendar on the wall from 2002, or cans of food from companies you’re pretty sure aren’t in business anymore. People talking in soft voices about “well, when my mom passed away…” and “how much do your services cost? I think we might need them soon…”
It’s sad—I mean, no kidding it’s sad—but I think the saddest thing for me is seeing all the things that were left unused and unopened. An empty photo book lying on the bed; a pair of socks still in the packaging. A box full of recipe cards that were never filled out. Maybe these were unwanted gifts that the owners never had any intention of using, or maybe they just hadn’t gotten around to them yet but were planning to later. Too late now, either way.
…And then you find an enormous box of cereal in the bathroom and start to feel better about everything.
Today was a day for yardsaling outside the mainstream. The weather report said (essentially) that the entirety of southern Connecticut was going to be swept into the ocean (thanks, Obama), so most of the “normal” yardsales took shelter for the day, leaving behind those sellers that were brave enough to set up shop indoors where the nature can’t get to them. One church sale I visited had what I believe to be a complete set of novelettes based on the Olsen Twins’ hit TV show Two of a Kind:
…Either that, or it’s just literally every copy of the book that was ever sold. (“So do I have the saddest collection ever, or what?” “You got it, dude.”)
Meanwhile, a sale at the public library gave us a sobering lesson in what it looks like when fads die out:
(Not pictured: like three more shelves of Twilight, and a whole box of books about warrior cats. Yes, they’re a thing.) The library also gave me this startling realization:
For those of you who don’t know, my wife is graduating in two days with a Ph.D. in Music Theory from Yale. Frickin’ Yale. She’s basically the smartest person in the world now. That said, I kinda wish we knew six years ago that the entirety of her studies could be boiled down to a maybe 10-page pamphlet. (Thanks, Obama.)
Also at the library I think I might’ve experienced my first yardsale come-on? Maybe? Hey, if a guy sneaks up behind you and says in a low, gravely voice “Here…I found this CD for you…”, and then starts tapping you in the head with a copy of The Simpsons Sing the Blues…umm, what does that mean, exactly? Is he just being friendly, or does he want to wear you as a skin-jacket?
Meanwhile, at a local thrift store, a mannequin was for some godforsaken reason staged like it’s about to strangle someone:
The sign next to it said something along the lines of “DO NOT TOUCH; IF YOU WANT THE CLOTHES, WE’LL GET THEM FOR YOU.” Trust me—I don’t want the clothes. You can keep the clothes.
Up the rickety staircase from here was something I hope at least one person’s gonna be mad at me for not buying:
And also this allegedly lobster-shaped cake pan that maybe, maybe shouldn’t be placed upside-down:
For a while I thought this movie I bought for a dollar would be the big winner of the day:
From the back of the box: “Maggie Andrews has a joyful heart that has been generously given to her family and the school choir. But now, without a heart transplant, she won’t survive beyond Christmas.” Starring Rob Lowe as “the heart”! (Okay, that’s just my wishful thinking.)
It even comes with a list of discussion questions for you and your family, like “Why is a gift more special when you earn the money for it?”, and “Is this more or less embarrassing for Rob Lowe than each of his sex tapes? Please reference scenes from each.”
But then my friend Esther sent me something she found at an antique shop this morning, and basically now everything I’ve ever posted on this site is boring garbage compared to it. WARNING: Racism ahoy!
something even more horrible.
(The racism might actually be the least creepy thing about it.)
Have YOU found anything horribly racist in your yardsale adventures? Or just, basically anything that made you pause and wonder “how can this possibly exist?” Send me a photo, and I might share it in a future post!