Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I refer to my tomato plant of course. Or plants as the case happens to be. The liveliness of the plants has to do with the fact that I have not had a whole lot of time to lavish care on them. I have begun the bi-annual Closet Overhaul. Children's clothes, toys, my clothes and books all get a thorough weeding. (My husband is stuck with his own closet, fortunately my beloved is not the kind to keep undergarments full of holes in them. Men-you know who you are.) Suddenly toys which had been as dust beneath their feet become precious commodities. Broken kid meal toys from the drive thru, sticker books with no more stickers, a container of desiccated Play-doh of indeterminant color all receive passionate defense. The judge is cold and heartless, sentences will not be commuted.

I am late overhauling this year, usually this event occurs in April. April ushered in the Infant, so I have been catching up. Just in time for the Lion's Club Rummage Sale. This is a Big Deal. For those souls who live in a city let me give you perspective on small towns. Our big theater has 3 screens, 3! Our sheriff hangs out at the video store shooting the breeze most nights. We have one intersection that merits a traffic light.

The Lions convert the cafetorium (that combination of cafeteria, gymnasium, and auditorium unique to elementary schools) into a heaven of used books, coffee mugs, small appliances, ancient LP's and other such gems. The parking lot holds treadmills, used barbeques, bicycles, and powertools; the breezeway used furniture. This is not the place where you will find an over looked antique; no, the treasures here are more apt to be a Far Side mug with weiner dogs on it and that hard to find copy of Jane and the Genius of the Place.

People begin to gather about 90 minutes before the event begins. The local boy scout troops sell doughnuts and coffee (later hot dogs and sodas). Jockeying for place begins. Small things first, a sidle towards the rope, a trip to the trashcan by door to try to peer into the dim interior of the building. Closer to the start, movement becomes less covert and more agressive. By 15 minutes to go, the crowd presses against the rope and watch checks become frequent. There is inevitably the one old guy in the yellow Lions' vest who becomes the focus of attention, the man with the bullhorn. He pulls out a massive pocket watch, as cliched as it becomes, and at last begins a countdown, 12...11...10......5....4...3...2...1 GO!
At GO! the ropes come down and the crowd rushes in like "there's gold in them thar hills". Two years ago I saw a lady fall and get trampled, before the Eagle Scouts could save her.

I like going to this event with my sister. She is a Class A scavenger. I mean this in the best possible sense. She finds gold among the dross with ease. I always head to the book tables first. Since I am a book junkie, the lure of 4 for a dollar paperbacks is as irresistable as catnip to cats and hyperbole to Maureen Dowd. (alright that was low, apt but low) I've got my scavenger money set aside and been practicing my elbow jabs, you never know when you need to elbow aside another enthusiast for that boxed set of Daphne Farquitt novels.

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