In the competition for most soul-crushing experiences, hosting a yard sale has to be right up there with being on "America's Next Top Model." Like the bony young women on the TV show, I put all my best stuff out there to be judged, only to find none of it was really all that desirable after all.
Last week, I was cleaning out the garage. Every scuffed baseball mitt I unearthed -- every wilted paperback -- smelled like money to me. This was some choice stuff. I predicted a showdown over my old golf clubs.
The yard sale came and went and the golf clubs are still mine; so are the paperbacks, the baseball mitts, the glass cake pedestal (brand new, in the box!) and the bike rack. All of it is still here, monuments to my failure as a saleswoman.
I'd had such high hopes.
Saturday dawned sunny and warm. Signs around the neighborhood indicated the community yard sale began at eight, but the early birds were out for cheap worms. Someone knocked on my door at 7:40. I ignored it. For stuff as great as mine, they would just have to wait.
At eight sharp the first shoppers walked up the driveway for a look.
"You have any fishing stuff?" the husband asked.
"No fishing, but plenty of golf and hockey, " I said. They abandoned their search and headed for the neighbor's stash. Obviously, these people had no idea what they were rejecting.
By 8:15 things were getting pretty busy, with as many as a dozen people in my yard at a time. Clumps of shoppers gathered around the golf clubs and I was sure someone would snap them up, but I was wrong.
"I only used them once," I shouted across the yard, breaking the first rule of selling your crap at a yard sale. Apparently, yard sale shoppers don't want a sales pitch.
By 8:30 I hadn't sold a thing. Lines of people filed past my castoffs, some of them shaking their heads in disdain. It reminded me of a funeral.
A woman picked up a glass vase marked $1.
"Will you take a dime?" she asked.
I wanted to say, "Show a little respect, lady, that was from Kohl's," but I bargained her up to a quarter. It was my first sale of the day.
A man and his son bought a Ben Roethlisberger bobble-head doll for $2. A Google search later suggested it was worth forty.
There were other signs that I'm not much of a businesswoman. A mom and her children were picking through a box of music CDs.
"Interesting pricing, " the mom said. "A dollar each, or 3 for $5." She asked if I'd done the price tags. I blamed it on my "5-year-old twin boys." She probably noted that I don't look like someone who could have had babies so recently, but soon she was out of my life forever, chuckling as she walked away.
That was the last straw. Humiliated and ashamed of my junk and my math skills, I closed up shop and closed the gates. I'd made exactly $37.25, including $35 for the bike that cost $175 new. The golf clubs and the CDs and the cake plate are still here, ready for the veterans charity to come and fetch them. They're waiting in the garage, right where they started.
Beth Dolinar is a former Riverside resident and Pittsburgh television reporter who is staying at home to raise her two children. She can be reached at cootieJ@aol.com.