Ah, HumanityAnglophilia

May 23, 2011

Selling the Vibrator

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The annual Greenwood Garage Sale day was this past Saturday.  I didn’t get to see much of it because I participated in a Garden Mart sale –all things for (or from) the garden—at Broadview Church.  I got together some garden-themed gifts (probably purchased at past yard sales), my watercolor cards (some of which are of gardens), and the last of my raspberry liqueur (the bottles that didn’t sell at the Dibble House Christmas Sale).  http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com/2010/11/bazaar-and-beautiful/

I dug up some hollyhock and Canterbury bells, and potted some of my Peruvian scillas.  My neighbors helped me load the car and I took off, stopping at the rummage sale at Christ the King Church on the way.  I thought about selling my rummage sale purchases at the Garden Mart but I love Pre de Provence soap.

So yes, I am somewhat of a Yard Sale junkie.  When my British cousins were here, I pointed out a few yard sales as we were on our way to Snoqualmie Falls.  I thought they would be interested but I think they actually looked the other way, as though I had suggested they watch someone use the toilet.  The British have their Jumble Sales and their Bring and Buy sales so I don’t know what my cousins found so distasteful.  It could be that displaying one’s private possessions on their front lawn is carrying it a bit too far.  At the Jumble Sales in small parishes or villages, everyone knows who brought what, but they pretend not to.  That can hardly be the case when the lady of the house is haggling over the price of her own underwear.

I, myself, have held annual yards sales since 1986.  I have managed to have enough merchandise by virtue of having a lot of storage space and by having parents who were pack-rats.  They’ve both been gone for years, but I still have some of the residual from the 2008 Shock and Awe estate sale of their house.

My original yard sale took place because of a little girl named Jessie, who was a shooting star that flashed across my sky every summer for five years.  She had been my little companion when I lived in France, a four year old blonde child with big blue eyes, delicate features and the spirit of a little imp.  She was nine the first summer she stayed with me in Seattle.   I was used to kids but I only had them for a half hour at a time.  Having one for 24 hours a day was a new experience for me.

That first visit, I tried to out-fun her.  Big mistake as any parent could have told me.  Yard sales were something we both enjoyed, and since Jessie had worn me out with going to sales on her first visit, when she came the second summer it was with the understanding that we would hold a sale of our own. The beauty of this arrangement was that there was a lot of sitting down time once we had hauled everything out, and that counted for me as time to rest.

Jessie brought an extra suitcase of stuff to sell.  The next year, she bought a box and a suitcase of already priced items for the second annual sale.  The third year, one of my piano students, Maddy, came with her mother, Joanie, to help with the sale.

That was the year I sold the vibrator.

I don’t need to recount how said vibrator came into my possession.  It vibrated fine.  It just wasn’t big enough for the requirements of the person who purchased it.  So there it stood, tall and phallic, amongst the tumblers, the purple feather boa, and the game of Boggle.

When I was eleven, I wouldn’t have known a vibrator from an electric drill but the girls crowded around it, giggling.  They christened it the “Happy Finger.”  Its life trajectory became the great speculation of the morning.  Every time someone picked it up, both girls were stuck dumb.

Around noon and buzzing like a couple of human vibrators themselves, they rushed over to where Joanie and I were chatting.

“Look,” Matty whispered. “That old guy is looking at the happy finger.”

“Do you think he knows what it is?” Jessie asked.

“Oh, I expect he does,” I said.

“Eww,” they said.

They watched in fascinated silence until the man who was perhaps in his 70’s, stood the vibrator back on the table, and moved on.

Thirsty and hungry after this spasm of excitement, the girls went off to the now de-funct Art’s Food Center on Holman Road to buy snacks and sodas.  A few minutes later, the old gentlemen paid me five dollars for the vibrator and walked with slow dignity to his car.

When the girls returned from Arts and reeking of grape soda, the first thing they noticed was the absence of the vibrator.

“Someone bought the happy finger?!!”

“Who was it?  When did it sell?”

“It was that man,” I said. “He bought it after you left.”

“The old guy?” they shrieked.  “What’s he gonna do with it?”

“Maybe he’s got a young wife that he wants to keep happy,” said Joanie.

“Ewww,” they chorused, making gagging gestures in case their point wasn’t clear.

This is only one of the things I enjoy about yard sales:  there is so much more on display than the stuff people want to get rid of.  There is more human drama amongst the crime fiction and cracked china than can be dreamt of in any other philosophy.

 

 

 

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