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Garage Sale
by Betty Mermelstein

Oversleeping for these events is unacceptable: your wedding, that 7:30 am outpatient surgery, your turn to read at the early church service, and that thorn in my side: the garage sale.

I awoke to the sounds of an unusual amount of traffic for our neighborhood. In my sleepy haze I thought it must be garbage day and cursed my snoring husband for forgetting to put out the barrel. When I distinguished cries of “Good morning!”, “How much?”, “Can I leave my dog with you while I get the truck?”,  I flew out of bed and threw on some clothes.

Within ten minutes I was in front of my garage, having dragged out the last ten years’ worth of my and my unsuspecting sons’ lives. They would never miss those pungent ice hockey gloves.  My husband didn’t count.  I figured what’s his is mine and what’s mine is mine when it came to garage sale profit.

I proudly noticed that the cars were now stopping in front of my garage. Must be the white plastic étagère, I thought.  Always an eye catcher.

Hands started examining my goods left and right. 

“How much for the curtains?”

“Both sets?  Two dollars.”

She handed me a dollar and swept up the curtains.

“Okay, thanks!”  I cheerfully agreed.

Another woman encircled the air with her hand over a bunch of picture frames.

“All of those for a dollar,” I smiled.

She stretched out a quarter toward me.

“Okay, thanks.”  I said less assuredly.

A boy started carrying a load of board games to a car.

“You have to pay for those, you know,” I called from my folding chair.

A man the size of Texas hefted his bulk out of the car that the little boy was heading toward.

“What do you think we are, thieves?” he snarled. “How much?”

“Oh, a quarter will be fine,” I stammered. “I know your son will enjoy them.”

“Isn’t that the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen?” a lady chuckled as she held aloft my first attempt at the Ceramics Is In My Blood store.

“It’s a conversation piece,” I murmured between clenched teeth. “It’s yours for a quarter.”

“I’ll give you ten cents for it,” she sniffed. The transaction was done.

“How much you want for the bike?” a man asked as he bent over the tireless frame, examining each metallic joint.

“Just $10,” I told him.

“There’s a lot of parts missing for $10,” he whined.

“Only the tires are gone,” I said firmly.

He shook his head and walked away. A woman in his car shouted staccato orders  and he returned, reluctantly taking the former $700 bike with no tires for $10.

Hours later, as the last car drove away I felt a sense of pride. I was the vendeuse, the market merchant hawking her wares, the entrepreneur with her garage front store. I clasped my $35 profit and surveyed my driveway, wondering what I was going to do with that plastic étagère.