Old garden hoses and porcelain chickens … Oxidized metals and outfits for Wiccans … Doodads and knickknacks that spring cleaning brings … These are a few of my favorite things.
I step across a cluttered driveway in Florence, eager to help kick off the beginning of tag sale season. Objects large and small sit in piles outside, disgorged from the nooks and crannies of garages and basements.
From one table I lift a large wooden dreamcatcher, spun thick with yarn. Beneath it lies an autobiography of Bill Clinton, a silver necklace, and an air horn. Seek and ye shall find.
Later, at another tag sale, two young women pause at a long table heaped with goods. Among almanacs, VHS tapes, and Sue Grafton hardbacks rests a dark brown fur coat, half-disintegrated. “Is this a gorilla costume?” one asks. She lifts it slightly and studies it. “No. Too bad.”
Roller skates and baseball cards are strewn among figurines, microwaves, paint cans, plastic Santas, and battered stuffed animals. Lot by lot, home by home, the accumulation overwhelms me. We like to think of ourselves as the bright stars of our own stories. But we are more like comets, endlessly trailing debris. We don’t shine — we leave streaks.
At one sale, I twirl a champagne flute stamped with the emblem of the Knights of Columbus. At another, I consider buying a Kodak Duaflex III camera.
At a third, a middle-aged man strolls by, grinning, wearing a blue sticker on his shirt that says “Best Offer.” I ask him whether anyone has floated a figure. “One person so far,” he said. “But the price wasn’t good enough.”•
— Hunter Styles, firstname.lastname@example.org