American Something Else


I pulled into the driveway just after seven for the eight o’clock start of the estate sale and there were already strangers in front of the house, standing in sweatshirts and shorts in front of their pickup trucks.  I had been wondering if anyone was going to show up, out in the redwoods beyond the radio waves of reception. I was wondering now if we would be ready in time, antique collectors banging at the doors, inquiring about things that were not for sale more quickly.

So just the middle of the hour, my sister and her friend, over-caffeinated and wearing matching shirts, having offered the box of donuts around and sold a dozen chairs in the yard already, let them into the old house. “We can only hold off the tide for so long.”

And like an easter egg hunt, the half-dozen pickers had made frenzied piles and haggled over the largest sets, and their interest and brief conversations amongst the couple seemed to indicate that they knew things we did not — collectively in our matching t-shirts — about their true value. Competing with one another over the course of perhaps ten minutes of looking and picking, whatever deals they were discovering and making in the course of the sales.

 “American [something else],” the friends said to one another. The whole table for $65.

They knew the names of the glassware, both the clear and the green “Mayan-looking” collections.

“All that Frank [something],” whispered a husband to her wife. $40 for all of it.

But they’d both be back later in the day – needing boxes to safely take it with them.

After that first rush, a neighbor enters through the doorway.

“First, I need to ask if there were ever any cats here?” she asks.

“No,” my sister answers from around the corner.

“Well, at least not since 1954. Before that, I don’t know.”




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