Friday, June 10, 2016


People have been asking me how I made out at my neighborhood’s yard sale on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. All I can say is it was a day I won’t soon forget.

First of all, due to unforeseen circumstances, my help had to cancel on me. And because it was a holiday weekend, most of my friends had other (much more exciting) plans. So I had to face the prospect of handling everything myself on yard-sale day. And if that didn’t concern me enough, the weather forecasters were predicting a day that was going to be hot enough to turn skin into beef jerky.

The morning of the sale, I got up at 5 a.m. and immediately set to work. It still was pretty chilly out, so I wore jeans, a T-shirt and a hoodie. My plan was to go inside after I set up everything, freshen up and change into something cooler.

I own only two folding tables, so the week before, I’d borrowed five more.  I was familiar with my own tables, but the other five opened in a variety of ways, so setting them up was a real challenge. One table opened with a sliding lever. Another opened by simultaneously pressing buttons on each side. And another opened because I got fed up with trying to figure out how to open it and wedged my foot in between the two folded sides and pried it open.

After I set up the tables, I carried a gazillion boxes of stuff out of the garage and began to unload them. Too soon, I realized I was going to be about four tables short and would have to improvise. I found two plastic end-tables and set two big boxes of vinyl LP records on them.  Then I turned some plastic tubs upside down and stacked games and books on those.

By the time I was done, I was sweaty and dirty, and the humidity savagely had attacked my hair and beaten it to within an inch of its life. I headed back toward the house so I quickly could wash up, change my clothes and do something with my hair and makeup. But just as my fingers touched the door handle, the first customer appeared. 

I looked so disheveled, the guy probably thought I was in dire need of money. He bought 18 record albums.

I was off to a good start.

After that, the customers arrived in a constant, steady flow, so I didn’t have any opportunity to go back into the house.  My front yard has no shade, so I was at the mercy of the relentless, blazing sun. By mid-morning, my deodorant completely had worn off and my lips were so dry, they were white and cracking. I looked as if I’d just spent a week in the Sahara.

That’s when people who’d read about the sale in my column began to arrive, saying they’d come especially to meet me – the crazy lady who writes the crazy columns.  They were wonderful, friendly people – from Goffstown, Barnstead, Auburn, Hooksett, and more – and I really wanted to spend time getting to know all of them better.

The only problem was, by the time they approached and introduced themselves, I looked (and smelled) as if I’d just run the Boston marathon. My first impulse was to go find a rock and crawl under it. Even worse, they all were attractive and well-groomed, which made me feel even more embarrassed. One woman in particular, who told me she was 62 – and honestly didn’t look a day over 40 – made me contemplate grabbing one of the shopping bags stacked next to my chair and yanking it down over my droopy-haired head.

I’d have to say my most intriguing customer was a guy who looked like Tom Brady, the famous Patriots’ quarterback. He arrived with his young son, then told him to go pick out anything he wanted and to “make a pile over there,” indicating an area on the lawn.

The boy ran from table to table, grabbing just about every toy, video game and collectible until his stack nearly was as tall as he was. His father then walked over to me, took a roll of $100 bills out of his pocket and said, “I have a thousand to spend today – what do I owe you?”

I was tempted to tell him $999, but his final total actually was closer to $250. If I hadn’t been working alone, I probably would have invited him into the house and tried to sell him all of my furniture.

By noon, the heat was an unbearable 94 degrees and the humidity was about 2,220. The plastic tables got so soft, they collapsed, sending my boxes of records toppling onto the ground. And I kept hearing the shoppers yelling, “Ow!” as they browsed through my stuff. I began to think a swarm of bees might have started building a nest in my Darth Vader mask, but it turned out the items made of metal were burning people’s hands when they touched them.

And I noticed my Elvis Presley doll’s white polyester jumpsuit suddenly was sprouting flesh-colored splotches, where the doll was melting right though it. Poor Elvis looked as if he had some rare skin disorder.

By 2:30, I was feeling lightheaded, headachy, queasy, and I’m pretty sure there was no saliva left in my mouth. There finally came a lull, with no customers for the first time all day, so I decided to call it quits while I still was semi-coherent, and go take down my yard-sale signs (which had big arrows pointing to my house).

But just as I was about to walk to the end of the driveway to remove the signs, another car pulled in.

An elderly man emerged and walked very slowly, his feet shuffling toward the tables, where he proceeded to carefully examine each and every item. Then he became interested in my comic books – and looked through all of the pages…one page at a time.

Spots began to form in front of my eyes and I could feel my internal organs dehydrating and shriveling into raisins. I smiled at him through clenched teeth.

He finally bought 10 comic books, then got into his car and began to drive off. I was just about to make a beeline to take down my signs, when he suddenly backed up, shut off the car and got out again.

“I just noticed something else I want,” he said.

He ended up spending another $50, which I decided had been worth the delay…even though I nearly needed CPR.

The moment I got back into the house, I grabbed a bottle of water and a cold compress, then collapsed on the sofa. 

“I may never get up again,” I groaned, even though I was so hungry, I was tempted to cook an omelet…directly on my 110-degree body. I drank five more bottles of water that night and never once had the urge to go to the bathroom.

The next day, it was 70 degrees with a cool breeze.

I really think I could learn to hate Mother Nature.

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