By Matt Damon, in honor of Mother’s Day (not that Matt Damon)
I’ve always been a fan of yard sales and typically stop by any that have unstained furniture or mounds of decent books. I try to avoid those that look like someone just threw all their junk on a few fold-up card tables in the hopes of getting a few bucks for meth.
This habit, like so many, was most likely passed on in the “yard sale gene” I inherited from my mother. She’s a yard-sale-obsessed post-menopausal phenom. Having grandchildren (my kids, for those keeping score) has turned her into an out-of-control monster each weekend from May to September. Is there such a thing as a possessed she-werewolf that comes out only on weekends for yard sales? I say “yes”, with great force and somewhat furious anger.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to receive package after package, shipped for $12 and filled with $2.50 worth of clothes for our two daughters. As my mom likes to say upon finding the Holy Grail of all yard sale kids’ clothing hauls: “It still has the tag on it!”
That, in my mind, means that:
1. The seller buys too much crap for their kids
2. The clothes are so weird that no kid would wear them, or
3. They’re stolen.
Regardless, without fail, I get a package each week along with a call detailing the history and a full description of how each item was obtained. My mother is particularly proud of anything that has a recognizable name brand such as Polo, Old Navy, Wrangler, or worst of all, The Children’s Store. Why would anyone pay a premium for such an unoriginal brand name?
After years of pulling in retread threads, I have a system. After opening the package with mock excitement, I pass the contents to my wife because it’s summer now and I’d just as soon let my kids run around naked, thus saving valuable dressing time. I then have her point out a few salvageable items, and I call my mom to tell her I thought they were cute as a button.
A typical conversation goes like this:
Me: “Thanks for the cute polka dot dress you got for Violet, mom.”
Mom: “Oh, you know…me and Judy went yard-saling (a real verb) this weekend and I saw that dress and thought it was just the cutest thing. And I walked up to it and the tag said 4T and I thought it would fit Violet and it’s summer time so it would be great because little girls wear dresses in the summer. And then I looked and it still had the tag on it!!! Can you believe it? It still had the tag on it! And it’s from The Gap. Talk about high end. I asked how much the lady wanted for it and she said a buck, but I asked if she’d take 50 cents and she said yes. Not too bad for your old mom, eh?”
Me: “…” (I’ve since put phone down and been checking my email)
Me: “Oh, sorry, I was just mesmerized by Violet in her new dress. She really likes it. Thanks so much.”
Mom: “Great! There’s another package on the way…”