“I’ll give you thirty bucks for all of it,” the man said in a heavy Rhode Island accent, gesturing to a table heaped with vintage toys from my childhood that I’d decided to sell at a recent neighborhood yard sale.
“Are you kidding me?!” I blurted incredulously.
“No way!” I continued, “I could get that much on Ebay for just the Dawn Dolls … and you want my Holly Hobby sewing machine, my Sunshine Family, my Barbies, and my Bionic Woman Doll … complete with the original box and accessories, too? What … are you nuts?”
A crowd of yard sale-ers stopped milling about my folding tables heaped with used junk to witness our banter. As the Rhode Island con artist did his best to swindle me out of the beloved toys that I’d refused to part with through nine military moves, I realized that my inside hoarder was getting the better of me.
It’s time to give up old things, I told myself.
But my inside hoarder resisted total surrender: “Gimme thirty-five at least!”
In the end, I settled for $32 and stood back as he callously threw my precious relics into his van. “Be careful!” I shouted pathetically, “You almost dropped the Bionic Woman’s Morse code translator!”
Two hours after our yard sale had ended, my husband, Francis, and I were headed to a Connecticut casino with a Ziplock baggie stuffed with $276 of yard sale booty, along with tickets to the Counting Crows/Rob Thomas concert that night.
“Make it rain, baby!” I yelled from the passenger’s seat of our minivan, jingling the baggie and envisioning a wild night of prime cuts of beef, top shelf cocktails, double-or-nothing winnings, and sweaty rock songs.
Mohegan Sun appeared quite suddenly in the Connecticut woods, and with our baggie securely stashed in my fanny pack, we found our way to the casino. I pictured us shouting excitedly over a crowded roulette wheel or muttering “Hit me” at a suspense-filled blackjack table, but we were lost in the indoor jungle of flashing lights, ringing bells and cigarette smoke. Overwhelmed, we found ourselves feeding bills into a lonely poker machine near the restrooms.
After five minutes, we cashed in our whopping $8 winnings and went to one of the many casino restaurants, where we shared a delicious stack of chicken and waffles drenched in Vermont maple syrup and sprinkled with crispy onion straws before heading to the concert.
Rob Thomas took the stage singing recognizable tunes such as “This Is How a Heart Breaks,” “Her Diamonds,” and “Someday.” We would normally leap to our feet at a concert, but we’d gotten up early for the yard sale, and we were both feeling full from dinner.
Besides, most of the crowd of 40-to-60-year-olds stayed seated too, with the exception of a surprising number of women, whose peri-menopausal hormones were compelling them to gyrate their capri-ensconced hips quite enthusiastically. The women reached out longingly to Rob Thomas, and being a 40-something himself, he obliged with an excellent performance.
“Oh good grief,” I cringed halfway through the show, after Francis let a belch slip by that reeked of those crispy onion straws.
“Sorry,” he confessed, “do you have any Tums in that fanny pack?”
The next act was the one Francis had been waiting for. Back in the 90s, he played Counting Crows’ August and Everything After album a zillion times on our old CD player. “Time to get sweaty,” he said as lead singer Adam Duritz took the stage.
But soon it was clear that we were all getting a little too old for these late-night endeavors.
Duritz, now 52-years-old himself and endowed with an ample gut, loped around the stage as if he suffered from joint degeneration. We felt Duritz’s pain literally and figuratively, as we shifted in our seats to ward off hip numbness.
Although Duritz displayed his true artistry on the stage that night, the middle-aged crowd was not long for this world, fighting back yawns by ten o’clock.
“For criminy’s sake, Honey!” I winced on our way home after Francis expelled another pungent belch.
The strange combination of the day’s events had taught me that, getting rid of old things in life won’t stop the sands of time. Just like Francis’ crispy onion straws, the years will just keep on repeating.