With two days left before our garage sale, my husband and I were tripping over boxes of cookbooks and the collection of sun faces I’d decided to purge. The man who wanted me to get rid of anything and everything balked when he discovered I’d put a price tag on the silver Chinese hand-exercise balls (They’re actually called Baoding Balls; I had to look it up…). Mind you, I haven’t seen him use these for over ten years.
(I asked him if he was honoring these things he wanted to keep; Peter Walsh would be so proud.)
When he picked up the bag of half-burnt candle tapers I was about to toss and asked how I could throw them away knowing how much he loved candles, I knew my choices for handling the final day of preparation would be limited.
I only had so many options:
A. Send him far, far away.
B. Lock him in the attic.
C. Pray for wind so he’d go wind-surfing.
D. Give him a very long and detailed to-do list.
E. Smile and say Yes, dear when he rails on and on without taking a breath about how much excess stuff we’ve acquired, how we could have let it get so bad, and how much money we’ve blown on all the stuff we will be practically giving away.
F. Look him directly in the eye and ask if all that stuff includes the Capri pants–Yes, really, there is such a thing as men’s Capri pants–he bought on vacation in Florida eight years earlier and has yet to wear in public.
G. While he’s busy tackling the to-do list, sneak out his Jimmy Buffet pony-tail baseball cap he wears every Halloween trying to look like he did in college when he really did have a ponytail.
Instead, I go with the flow when he decides to get involved and starts emptying kitchen cabinets. We sold our fondue pot and bread-maker at our last garage sale three years ago–when we said that would be our last garage sale.
This time around, he decides the wok needs to go; then demands to know what-in-the-world he’s found wedged in one of the upper reaches. I try to explain the glass pie plate locked inside the Tupperware cover, but he keeps shaking it around and can’t get the hang of how to open it. He also wants to know why I have a pie plate as I’ve never made a pie since he’s known me. I try to tell him I had these visions of me doing the Martha Stewart thing making pies…
He looks ridiculous as he tries to pry open the hinge side of the container, totally missing the subtleties of how to open it. I take the container from him, realizing I haven’t ever actually used it, and tell him first of all, it takes a woman to open it and second of all, it takes some muscle.
I’m proud of myself because even though I might not know how to make a pie, I do know how to open a Tupperware container.
With a flourish I unlatch the plastic case and the glass pie plate slides out, barely missing a cat and scaring the dog badly as it crashes into a zillion pieces when it careens across the floor.
After a short stunned silence my husband and I look at each other; then break into laughter. It’s been a long day.
We move into other rooms; the tension broken. We reminisce over previous purchases before kissing them goodbye. Okay, I reminisce before kissing them goodbye; my husband is doing a high five with himself.
He tells me he’s sorry I’m having postpartum blues when I get sentimental over something hideous a child made for me years ago. I explain he’s talking about empty nest syndrome. He shrugs his shoulders and I’m glad he can make me laugh.
Two hours later, we’ve accumulated a much larger pile and my husband is ready to turn in. I know what’s still to be unearthed but with the hour approaching midnight, decide to start fresh in the morning.
We’ll set up tables, make the signs (he’ll put them up; it’s on his to-do list), organize the quarters and dimes, and brace for the crowd. In the old days, I’d use vintage tablecloths (and maybe sell them or not), but we’re racing this sale to the wire.
Finally set free of needing to keep anything, I’ll probably be pulling pictures I’ve long outgrown off the wall every time I enter the house for a drink of water.
It is exhilarating to free yourself of ties.
One last thing to do: e-mail friends, relatives and neighbors letting them know (in case they didn’t see the newspaper) about the sale, dropping hints of what’s about to surface. I even mention parting with the totem pole and promise guitar serenades from my husband.
Tomorrow could get hairy; wish us luck! ~ JD here.