It’s time once again for “What Does Darren Think”, a column written, as Dilbert author Scott Adams puts it, “Approximately whenever I feel like it.” Things happen that raise questions about life, our world, and our neighbors’ yards. Questions like “What is that statue of, anyway? It looks like a grotesque bird bath, but he claims it’s art he found at a yard sale” plague our thoughts. These questions demand answers so we can sleep at night. And since I’m too lazy to scan internet news items this morning, I think my neighbor’s yard is perfect to begin today’s discussion; “yard sales.”
You can drive through many middle-class neighborhoods, especially in the spring season, and witness various forms of junk dealerships. These are called by differing names like yard sale, garage sale, and rummage sale. It’s quite enjoyable to stop and browse through all the merchandise offered, like cigarette burned sofas and coffee stained shirts. Some yard sales are so large it appears the only thing not for sale is the living room floor.
One such yard sale I stopped at was so large it spanned three adjacent front yards. Five families were cooperating in an effort to break the Guinness record of clutter per square foot, currently held by Ed “Rusty” Bloomblatt of my home state of Tennessee, who has thirty-seven rusting Ford Pintos piled in a front yard the size of a saltine cracker. I used the classical, dependable technique of shopping at this yard sale, which is known by experts as “rummaging”, and found many useful-but-not-useful-for-me items; a 1950’s style dress shoe for ten cents, a curling iron minus the cord for fifteen cents, and an item that is required at every yard sale to qualify as a yard sale, a velvet print of dogs playing poker, priced at twenty dollars. I think I keep seeing the same print, kept in circulation via rental contracts, so everyone can have a certified yard sale.
I did find a mint condition Sony brand stereo set, circa last month, complete with CD player. The proprietors were blaring country music from it loud enough to mistake as a rock concert, or a freight train wreck, and I imagine its purpose was to advertise their yard sale as far away as Taiwan. I wanted this stereo set, and per customary yard sale etiquette, offered five dollars.
“It’s not for sale” was their customary yard sale etiquette response. This didn’t deter me since my sharp perception said it was a high price response to my low ball offer. That’s all part of shopping at a yard sale. You haggle for a price as close to free as possible that in turn makes the seller happy he didn’t make any money. My second offer was seven dollars. They instead offered me a high quality home dust collector, known as a “Bowflex”, but I already have enough of those, so didn’t bite.
It turns out the stereo really wasn’t for sale. You win some, you lose some, I always say. Moving past the cigarette burned sofa, I looked through a rack of grass-and-food-stained children’s clothing, where I found nothing in my size. It was time to move on to another yard sale, so I wished them good luck with their Guinness record-breaking and drove away.
Having a yard sale is part of the American Dream, along with the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of house-fulls of stuff, and the pursuit to sell said stuff. I always look forward to yard sales. Someday I need to hold my own yard sale, as I have some really efficient dust collectors to get rid of.