Monday, October 11, 2010

The pleasure of touching other people's things

I love estate sales. There's a thrill in pawing through a stranger's stuff and scoring that half-full bottle of Windex for a quarter.

What I don't love is knowing estate sales seldom occur under happy circumstances. They usually happen when someone dies or moves into a nursing home. I went to one that took place after a bitter divorce where the couple just walked away from everything – family portraits in the frames, popcorn in the popper, rows of sexy nightgowns in the closet.

Thoughts like these can temper my enthusiasm for getting a great deal on a set of avocado green mixing bowls. As I walked around the strange home Saturday afternoon, I couldn't stop wondering about it. Who died? Did he have a happy life? Would his wife think the price was fair on their unopened box of enema bags?

Then I wandered out to the garage. The clouds parted, the birds sang, and I saw my very favorite thing in the world – garage porn.

In case you missed my previous installment on this subject, go here to see what I found in my own garage.

But here's a glimpse at what was in theirs:
The only thing worse than small rubbers is unclean ones.

If you're going to have a power stripper in your garage, make sure you get the super hot one. Even better if you can score the accessories.

Sheet screws? As opposed to the ones atop the quilt?

I honestly have no idea what this means.

The rubbers were small, but the knobs are large. This seems unfair.
Do you enjoy going to estate sales and pawing through other people's things, or do you find the whole business depressing?

If it's the latter, I suggest you visit the garage. Seriously.


Shakespeare said...

Estate sales are sad... but the stuff still needs a place to go. I feel like I'm giving the stuff a new, happier place to live...

Linda G. said...

ROF,L! Okay, I think my morning tea is coming out of my nose now.

You know, I think I'm going to have to plant some of this kind of stuff in our garage, just so someday someone will be entertained at our estate sale.

Melissa Gill said...

Oh my , a Super Hot Power Stripper. Gotta love that.

lora96 said...

Large knobs cracked me up.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Estate sales are great fodder for coming up with story ideas. Why the house was abandoned... who abandoned it... was the house haunted? So many ideas!

Patty Blount said...

The large knobs got me... !

I'm not a fan of sales. To me, it's all junk. My dad and my sister have "the eye." Recently, they found this rusty old metal toy boat that sold on eBay for over $1k. I thought it was a tetanus shot looking for a body.

But yes, there are stories hidden in that junk!

I recently went to one where the owner had a table full of books for sale. I was like a kid in a candy store, pawing over the Nelson DeMille's. He GAVE them to me because he was so happy to find a book lover like him.

Kristina said...

Great post (as always!) on a subject that gives me the heebie-jeebies. Too much stimulus for me - all that STUFF! Bet you're glad you'll get no competition from me to score a bottle of Windex! :)

Elisabeth Black said...

I saw something in my own garage last night that made me quietly smirk.

Okay, I'm back. It is ZEP 45 NC. Here's what it says on the can: PENETRATING LUBRICANT WITH TEFLON AND VYDAX. Use on all surfaces that slip, slide, rub, roll, move, turn, twist or pivot.

You're welcome.

Danica Avet said...

No, I've never actually been to an estate sale. However, my uncle dated a woman who lived for them. She'd buy gorgeous furniture for barely anything and her house was beautiful because of it. No big deal, right?

Wrong. They came for a visit one day and she looked nice, as usual. Then she told us, "I got my entire outfit for five dollars! The dress was two dollars, the shoes were one dollar, the earrings and bracelets, I got for a dollar fifty. And I even got my underwear for fify cents!" I think I must've stared at her in abject wear someone else's still blows my mind.

Valeriebrbr said...

I love the fact that you're able to see the humor in every situation (i.e. nail in tire), and as a result, I couldn't help but think of you when I posted this on my blog Friday!!! Thanks for the inspiration! Hope you enjoy!

Sierra Godfrey said...

I do like estate sales but the circumstances put me off, as they do you. And I can't stand it when the house oldness, must, or a variety of other unsavory living conditions.

By the way, "male ends" means that the wire has a protruding piece on the end of it. "Male" and "Female" ends are common terms in manufacturing for a variety of connectors or anything.

In my first tech writing job, within a few months of starting the job, I worked for a manufacturing company and I couldn't figure out what male and female ends meant. So I asked an engineer. He was very unhappy about answering that...but did. Worst moment ever for me, and then he hated me after that for years.

The Merry said...

I used to exercise with Manuel, my manual treadmill. He was good at getting me hot and sweaty for 20 minutes at a time, but he always needed lots of lubricant before a workout.
What? What are you looking at me like that for?

Jeannie Moon said...

Love the large knobs and bed screws. But who wouldn't?

demery bader-saye said...

So Tawna,

I'm coming to see that you are incorrigable! Love it.

Michelle Wolfson said...

I truly love your demented little mind.

lora96 said...

Estate sales creep me out, though. Like in "I Hate Valentine's Day" when the mc says she hates antique furniture because it's like there is a dead person sitting on the chair. I'm weird like that. Plus, ask my dh--I have enough old crap in our garage--barbies anyone?

Leona said...

Dear, the male end is the end that goes into the other end. The female end is the receptor. I kid you not...

twinklebelle said...

being a opp shop junkie, i am in heaven(or the dearly departed's left behind hell???) at estate sales. no need to seek out witty pornographic humor in the garage, i am capable of climaxing right in the middle of a living room full of odds and ends!!

Melanie Sherman said...

I could have used that dang stripper. He didn't even need to be super hot. "Breathing" is my new guideline.

Dr. Goose said...

Daisy is a garage sale whore. I kid you not. Thousands upon thousands in her life time.

When we were dating I thought she was kidding when she would say,"Turn right! Turn Right! Turn right! It's a garage sale!"

"But we are going to a suprise b-day party and we are late"

A look of "Don't mess with me." was on her face. Oh well. She's thrifty and I love her.

terripatrick said...

Garage porn - awesome stuff - no matter how many ghosts are attached!

Matthew Rush said...

This is all so awesome.

Claire Dawn said...

The rubbers were small, but the knobs are large...

Isn't that just life for ya?

Tawna Fenske said...

Shakespeare, it's the ultimate recycling program, isn't it? :)

Linda G, oh believe me, you already have plenty of this stuff in your garage!

Melissa, it's important to have the super hot one, you know!

lora96, yeah, I liked the large knobs myself. I was just scrolling through my camera and realized I left off one of my favorites, which was "butt hinges."

Nicole, there's almost always buzz around the estate sales I go to so you hear the story behind what happened. Saddest was an old guy who died and his wife was so distraught, she died just a few weeks later. Happiest was a thirty-something couple that decided to sell off everything and pursue their dream of sailing around the world.

Patty, I pick up a TON of books at estate sales. My best non-book score was a string of real pearls someone hadn't realized were real and priced at $2.

Kristina, it's funny, I really wasn't joking about the Windex. Estate sales are a great place to get a deal on cleaning supplies!

Elisabeth, that is HILARIOUS! You must post a picture sometime.

Danica, I love used clothes, but even I draw the line at underwear.

valeriebrbr, loved the blog post!

Sierra, thank you for the education on male ends (snicker!)

The Merry, can Manuel come over and play with me?

Jeannie, you've gotta wonder if it ever crossed the mind of whoever labeled those cans.

demery, I like how "incorrigible" sounds much nicer than "perverted."

Michelle, now we just have to cross our fingers that book buyers feel the same way :)

lora96, my husband once had to talk me out of acquiring a giant wooden rocking chair with giant voodoo heads mounted along the back and claws at the end of the arms.

Leona, this shouldn't surprise me :)

twinklebelle, give me a call the next time you're in Oregon, we'll have such fun together!

Melanie, you don't want to lower your standards too much when it comes to strippers!

Dr. Goose, that is a good woman you have there.

terripatrick, gotta appreciate the small (and perverted) things in life.

Matthew, glad you enjoy it! :)

Claire Dawn, it's just not fair, is it?

Thanks for reading, guys!

Christina Auret said...

I have never been to an estate sale, but it sounds like a larger version of the white elephant table at the church bazaar. Only with more poignancy. I will have to be on the look out for these as poignancy does not bother me at all.

I always learn something useful when I read this blog - even though I think I might not be learning the things you actually try to impart.

A. S. Boudreau said...

I love browsing antique malls and such and wondering about the history of such items, where they've been, and what life was like for their previous owners.

We donated a lot of my father's things to charity after he died locally and I will never do that again. I have since donated the rest of his things to charity further away, like 40 miles away. I actually had someone come up to me and say "I'm wearing your dad's pants!"

Yea. Ugh.