An old friend of mine has come down with an alarming new affliction this spring. Garage sales. All of sudden he can't drive past a garage sale.
We'll be out in the country. He'll see a garage sale sign in the ditch and that will be it. We'll have to stop.
And there it will be: American middle class life, spread before us on folding tables. Baby clothes. Time-Life books. Outdated computer programs and components. Broken game systems. Joyless joysticks. Exercycles. Anything ever sold via infomercial, including Ginsu knives, Salad Shooters and cast-aside Thighmasters.
Why is there always a Thighmaster?
He's looking for fishing gear, baseball gloves and a horseshoe set for his yard. He walks up and chats up the locals like a pro. I, on the other hand, tend to hang back. Something about garage sales horrifies me.
All that stuff, it's a window into these peoples' lives. Every table tells a story I don't want to hear or read.
Look. There, near the Thighmaster. All those diet books. Twenty-five cents each. And a bathroom scale...
Every item seems to be a hobby or gizmo tried -- a hobby or gizmo set aside, boxed up and, now "garage saled" down the road.
The humanity, the humanity.
Then we'll run into a garage sale by guys for guys. One with coffee cans full of nuts and bolts. And pulleys and rusty pipe wrenches. And, maybe, for my buddy, an old Pflueger Supreme bait casting fishing reel on a steel rod from back when fishing was really fishing -- marked six bucks, but my buddy will talk them down to two.
And we'll proceed down the road, his latest treasure rolling around in the back of the truck. And we'll get back to his place and he'll put it in the garage with the bikes and the chain saws he's going to get around to fixing someday and his golf clubs that have gone out of style and all the rest of his stuff.
And he'll stand there, hands on hips, surveying his empire.
"Too much stuff," he'll mutter, "way too much stuff.
"Maybe I ought to have a garage sale."
Fine with me. As long as there isn't a Thighmaster.