I’m walking around someone’s musty garage, wearing a surgical mask, browsing junk that’s for sale. I stopped here because I cannot resist yard sales. Half my house is secondhand refuse.
We have so much junk that my garage, for instance, qualifies as one of Earth’s great natural landmasses. It contains half the stuff in the known solar system, including armoires, radios, Mel Torme records, crockpots, sombreros, and fondue pots.
And books. I’m big on used books. I own millions. Maybe gajillions. I place these ratty books all over the house so people will see them and think I’m smart. Visitors pick up old books and say, “Huh. Is this book any good?”
And even though I’ve never read it, I will always say, “Meh.”
This makes me appear cultured. I learned this from my father. Who was a professional junk shopper.
One time my father and I were on a walk through a neighborhood when he saw a man’s garage open, with all sorts of knicknacks. My father became sweaty and his pupils dilated. My father worked in junk
like some men worked in oils or clay.
“Look at all that junk,” he said.
In a few moments we were digging through boxes in some guy’s garage.
Finally he asked the old man, “How much for this porcelain kettle?” My father, who was no shrinking violet, didn’t even let the man answer. He said, “I’ll give you two bucks.”
The man stammered and hesitated but eventually accepted.
My father removed the cash and it was only then we discovered this was no yard sale. This guy was simply organizing his garage.
So my father did the decent thing. He asked the man to gift wrap his kettle.
We did this every Saturday. It would always go the same way. He would wake me up at 4 a.m., he’d cook his signature breakfast of blackened potatoes and carbonized bacon, and away…