Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Million-Dollar Yard Sale

My husband believes that one day we're going to strike it rich. Other (more sane) individuals expect their financial avalanche to come in the form of winning the Lotto, a jackpot in Vegas, or even Ed McMann's Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. But not my husband. He believes that one day we'll hold a million-dollar yard sale.

We've been saving yard sale goods for over two years now. In our attic there are boxes of Cosby sweaters, baby clothes, old bed sheets, magazines over 5-years old, mismatched shoes, wobbly furniture, and broken happy meal toys; we're going to make a killing.

I have to admit--I've made a few renegade Goodwill-runs. The other day I took 3 garbage bags full of old clothes. “What?!” my husband gasped when he found out. “All that stuff could have gone in THE yard sale.”

It's now THE yard sale - the yard sale of everyone's dreams, the yard sale of the century, the yard sale that will buy us a second home in the Hampton's. Never mind that our first home is jam-packed with valuable yard-sale fodder: items that perfect strangers will apparently pay top-dollar for.

This American practice of putting our junk on display is an odd thing. Think about it. Most days I'm trying to hide my junk from people who drop by. I'll kick stuff under the couch, push it into a closet, or throw it into the laundry room simply to get it out of sight. But with the yard sale we want people to see the junk we've accumulated. In fact, we not only take full ownership for our junk, but we put it in the front yard and stick price-tags on it. The strange appliances that we never figured out, the kitschy knick-knacks we've been told are family heirlooms, pairs of things that are no longer pairs. I have a laundry basket full of lone socks. That basket represents more faith in the universe than my weekly church meetings. Someday I believe I'll either find all those sock mates, or I'll put them in a yard sale and make good money from another housewife who believes my laundry basket full of lone socks is a perfect match for hers.

Because isn't that all a yard sale really is, folks? Aren't the people who hold yard sales really cheapskates that hope other people will pay good money for items that they would otherwise donate to charity or throw in the trash? And what of the people who get up at an ungodly hour to tour the yard sales?

You've got to hand it to them. Both the yard-saler and the yard-salee have one thing in common: optimism. The yard-saler has faith that the yard-salee is practically giving away priceless items that could be displayed on The Antique Roadshow, while the yard-salee, like my husband, believes that at the end of his 8-hour yard sale shift he'll 1) get people to remove the clutter from the premises, and 2) earn enough money for one mortgage payment and a trinket or two he'll sell in the next million-dollar yard sale.