March 22, 2018

The Mother of All Yard Sales


Esmeralda and I just finished having the mother of all yard sales. Technically, you could call it the “aunt of all yard sales” as Esmeralda’s aunt was at the root of the thing. Under normal circumstances, I stay away from yard sales, whenever possible. And hosting one is completely out of the question. As a shopper at yard sales, I have discovered I possess little will power and am constantly vexed by whatever sort of clutter is being offered. I can’t tell you how many times I have left on a Saturday morning hoping to return with a small sack of fasteners from the hardware store, only to find myself swapping vehicles because the six foot tall, eight foot wide entertainment center I just bought for $80 won’t fit in my Subaru. I am convinced it is a disease not all that different from strep throat or alcoholism.

Anyway, back to Esmeralda’s aunt. Affectionately known as Auntie Kitty, she has lived in the same downtown Tucson for the last century. A few months ago, the family announced that at 106 years old, it was time Aunt Kitty moved into an assisted living facility. In typical style, Aunt Kitty stuck two suitcases in the postage stamp sized trunk of her Lamborghini and escaped to Sarasota, where she is currently shacked up with a retired Columbian shoe salesman.

Aunt Kitty called last month and asked if we wouldn’t mind clearing out the bungalow of all her worldly goods and forwarding the cash. That’s how I ended up spending last weekend letting complete strangers mill about my driveway and into the sacred confines of my garage (read: man cave). Last Saturday morning, at 6 a.m. prompt, a gaggle of folks with less self-control than myself, were lined up on street in front of our home, shredding the yellow caution tape I had strung across the drive. I would note that the yard sale was advertised for a 9 a.m. opening. I in my PJ’s and Esmeralda in her robe were torn from our slumber by the sound of two women claiming ownership of one of Aunt Kitty’s iconic saguaro-ribbed floor lamps. From there it only got worse.

War stories from the yard sale crowd are a dime a dozen, and there were many to tell following two days spent liquidating Aunt Kitty’s stuff. A collector of all things “desert-like,” Aunt Kitty had seven full sets of cactus-print glasses and pitchers once given out by a local oil company. They were gone the first hour–the last set, though slightly faded and missing the wooden tray that all seekers of the old oil company’s lagniappes cherish, being auctioned off among six ladies of the local Red-Cat Society, eventually going for the princely sum of $175. Never mind that you can get a set of the same glasses off E-Bay for $75, with a tray.

Then there was the bi-polar sisters who, for reasons only they would comprehend, purchased Aunt Kitty’s mink stole, a teak-wood dish strainer, seven blouses (none of which looked a good fit), an art-deco Sunbeam toaster, an old basketball of mine I had left lying in the yard and a doghouse capable of accommodating a breeding pair of St. Bernards. As is often the case, the doghouse would not fit in their Yugo, so I was made to drive it to Sedona, where I left on the front step of their townhouse…or more accurately, I left the townhouse on the front step of their new doghouse.

In the end, Eseralda and I successfully cleared out nearly all of Aunt Kitty’s former possessions, including a slightly dented tuba (left by one of Aunt Kitty’s numerous boyfriends, I am told), over 7,000 videos, most of them suitable for family viewing, and the largest fake rubber tree I believe I have ever seen. The mother of all yard sales was a rousing success.

It also served as an opportunity to dispose of some of the lesser-appreciated items that I have found at other people’s yard sales. In fact, two burly young men from the Navaho reservation stopped in late Sunday on their way back to Tuba City and bought the mammoth entertainment center. A monument to my lack of self-control, it had become a sore point in our otherwise happy home. It left the driveway without a tear.

The mother of all yard sales was not only a chance to help Aunt Kitty, it also left an open spot where the entertainment center once sat. I have every reason to expect I will have that space filled before the Spring yard sale season comes to an end.

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