Yard Sale Sentiments

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Told from a husband's point of view...

Submitted: May 11, 2009

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Submitted: May 11, 2009

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Spring. Snow melts, roads dry up, cyclists overrun already crowded streets and people get the itch - an urgent need to clean out basements, attics and garages of years of accumulated junk. The baby carriage with one slightly warped wheel that Sandy outgrew ten years ago. All the duplicate candlesticks, fake centrepieces and vases that were given for wedding presents before the time of socially acceptable returns and exchanges on gifts. Sandy's slightly damaged Fisher-Price airport and miraculously complete Lego city. The gigantic panda Timmy had won at the fair when he was only three years old and had toted everywhere, despite the fact that it was two feet taller and about that much fatter than he. Really, where did all this stuff come from?

It was all my wife's fault. She decided that she couldn't stand one more minute of junk in unseen corners. I personally believe that sleeping dogs should lie, but she wouldn't even give me a chance to argue. I was told to take to the workbench and sort out the tools I wanted to keep and the ones that would grace our driveway and sidewalk for the world's perusal and hopefully, their purchase. She, meanwhile, holed up in the attic somewhere and wasn't to be seen for the entire "Let's-Clean-Up-This-House-Now!" weekend. It was crazy, really. I mean, I need all of my tools - the hand saw is still more efficient than that electric contraption I received for Christmas - at least one doesn't have to read a 200-page instruction manual in order to use it. To place that complicated piece of machinery on the "auction block", however would be an insult to both my son and my daughter who saved up months of allowances to buy it for me. It goes back in its designated place of grace - high up on the list of unusables and unsellables.

It seems that I wasn't the only one with sentimental attachments to unusables - Sandy's wail of despair could be heard throughout the neighbourhood when Mom told her that the sand-gritty cars and trucks of her childhood would make some other children happy. Clearly Sandy didn't agree, but when told that the money made from them would be hers to keep, she grudgingly agreed that selling them might be in the best interest of all involved. Timmy, surprisingly, was on the opposite end of the scale - he agreed quite readily to the sale of his abandoned childhood games and toys.

The day of our sale dawned bright and clear and matched our spirits as we busily unpacked boxes, priced goods and arranged and rearranged our wares. I took signs and nails to telephone posts on either end of our street and introduced them to the world of advertising with a solid bang. I arrived back in our yard to see our driveway positively deluged by the twittering crowd of bargain hunters.

A elderly lady approached my wife. "How much is this?" she chirped in a high-pitched voice wavery with age.

"Oh, um...I don't know, I haven't priced it yet - Bi -i - llll!" she called across the lawn to the car where I was wrestling with the last of our huge "Yard Sale" signs. "How much is this?"

"Ah - (quick - how much is a wheelbarrow of garden memories worth? Think!) - ah, make it twenty, Sue!"

"Excuse me, does this all go with the set?" a young mother inquired of Timmy, who was guarding his goods with the sharpest of eyes. "Is this price firm?" She sighed at his affirmation and turned away, the youngsters on each arm tugging impatiently, crankily.

The panda bear gained the most attention that afternoon. At first I thought it was its size - it was one of those gigantic-larger-than-life stuffed animals, with bright blue and pink colouring. I soon realized that the exclamations of surprise coming from everyone that looked at it were over the price. I didn't want to insult Timmy's good judgement of price, however. Taking a slightly chipped souvenir plate from the Calgary Stampede with me as an excuse, I inobtrusively sauntered over to take a look. My facade collapsed, however, as I glanced at the price - in large, wavery writing, Timmy had carefully printed "Bear, 100 $". I quickly bit back further laughter as my young son looked up with hurt expression and ran into the house, knocking over his lemonade stand in the process. Lemonade spilled into the box of baby clothes that Sue had so painstakingly washed and ironed, over the miscellaneous garden tools rusted with age, and down the driveway in a slow rivulet of pink. Sympathetic murmurs and Sue's despairing groan were heard in the next few seconds, and then dickering, bargaining and bartering were replaced the momentary shocked silence. I sprinted after Timmy and left Sue to clean up.

As I soon found out, Timmy didn't really want to sell his toys. Even though that panda had graced our attic with his benevolent smile for the last three years, Timmy couldn't bear to part with it. I really didn't know what to say, myself. Sue had some pretty good arguments, beginning with "...you haven't played with that bear in years", and ending with "...you can get something else that you will use, instead.", but Timmy was adamant. For now, that bear was one hundred dollars - if someone wanted it, then he could get something he would use instead. If nobody wanted it, then he would keep it. Personally, I was on his side and at his age, sentiment doesn't need to be argued with.

The boom of thunder and spatters of rain on the window warned us that the "Clean-Up-This-House-Now!" weekend wasn't necessarily the only thing getting cleaned. We sprinted outside and frantically tried to haul everything into our tiny garage, but to no avail. The rain soon came down in sheets, soaking everything - the pink trickle of lemonade diluted and washed away, the baby clothes sunken into one soggy mess of pastels with pink tinge and the panda bear smiling through it all, peering blandly through soggy eyebrows and limp fur. He clearly expressed my sentiments. As I cleared out and cleaned my life of clutter and unnecessaries, I felt like a part of me was getting washed away as well - yet I smile. Through the slight twinges of regret, of wistful longingof a life already lived, all one can do is smile and keep going. That panda bear still sits up in our attic, dusty and faded, slightly slumped and lopsided from soaked stuffing dried hard - and the years go by.

GK - written in last year of high school


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