While the cat's away...

In all my 25 years, my folks had never gone away for a weekend before. I know that in all the movies you see, the kids can't wait till the parents go away so that they can throw this huge party and trash the house.

Well, in our case, the house was already trashed -- we were trying to clean it up! It was definitely something our parents would never approve of. But it was certainly something that had to be done. At least the way we saw it.

That week we had secretly placed ads with every newspaper within a fifty mile radius of Charlottesville. There are dozens of little towns around here like our humble Eagle Rock, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you that garage sales on summer weekends are pretty popular. We were expecting a big turn-out starting at 6 AM. Which left us about 12 hours before the crowds began swarming on Eagle Rock, and eager customers started beating our doors down. We figured we'd spend a good three or four hours getting organized, then get a good night's rest, wake up and then


The weather channel assured us we'd have a perfect sunny day, so we pulled out every table we could find in the house and arranged them outside.

We decided to be ruthless. We'd get rid of anything that hadn't been used in 10 years.

Mike and I would take everything down into the living room, Suzie would price it, and Davey would start arranging things outside. And then we'd start piling all the extra stuff we couldn't fit in the backyard into the garage and the living room.

We were really excited. We were sure we were going to make quite a few bucks out of this. We did a quick meditative huddle, then roared and jumped into action.

Hmm. Where should we start?

"The attic!" everyone agreed. Everyone except Mike.

I had mentioned before how Mike had cleaned the kitchen and the living room. What I didn't know at the time was that Mom and Dad wouldn't let him throw anything out. Everything, every last sopping wet thing had gone up into the attic.

Our infamous attic. The one with all the unopened boxes marked "MISCELLANEOUS" that still hadn't been opened since my folks moved here more than 25 years ago.

We used to love to explore the attic when we were young. Wow, there were so many neat old things lying around, and so many surprises awaiting inquisitive hands in all the boxes. But as we got older it was a little too crowded up there for exploring. None of us had been up there in a long time. Except Mike.

Mike stood in front of the door. "Don't go in there, please," Mike begged. "It's packed so tight I had to nail these braces across the door. You'll be buried alive!"

"Stand back, Mike!" I said, crowbar in hand.

"I warned you..." he sighed, taking cover in Mom's bathroom.

He did warn me.

I pulled off the boards, and the door swung open. The world tumbled out. I was whooshed across the second floor hallway, and down the stairs into the living room on tons and tons of who-knows-what.

It took them an hour to find me.

You would not believe how much stuff was in that attic. We waded through books and old clothes and toys and hoodinkeys, and whatcha-ma-callits, and what-is-its, and what-have-yas and I-don't-know-what-else. All I know is 6 AM came and we were still sorting and marking.

Saturday was a complete blur to me. I really have no idea where it went. It just flew by.

I remember Suzie and Davey were out there smiling, putting things out on the tables as fast as they could, and I saw them stuffing bills into a shoebox while Mike and I carried out box after box after box.

I remember seeing some prices Suzie had marked, too. Fifty cents for an old end table. Hardcover books, ten for a dollar.

"Suzie, we'll never make any money that way!" I protested.

"Ricky, Ricky, you don't know anything about yard sales, do you? Things have got to be cheap. We're doing just fine, now go get more stuff. We're selling it faster than you guys are bringing it out!"

People were still coming in droves at 8 o'clock that evening, but there wasn't much left out on the tables. Nevertheless Suzie had everything marked so low that no one went away empty-handed.

"You'd better get some more stuff," Suzie yelled as she shook Mike and me to our feet.

"It's all gone," I muttered, completely exhausted as I lay sprawled out on the lawn.

"What do you mean?" Davey laughed.

"We cleared everything out of every room in the house, except the bare essentials. You know, beds, rugs...we even sold the cobwebs at six for a quarter..." Mike moaned.

"Let's go to sleep," I sighed as I was sure I heard my bed inside call out my name.

"Davey called up for pizza," Suzie piped. "Let's stay up and count the money together."

"Well, all right," we agreed. Davey was waving good bye to the last customer, and we watched as they drove away with a truck-load of old tables and chairs that had been down in the basement for a century, at least.

"Don't worry, I didn't sell the kitchen table, although I had quite a few offers," Davey chuckled. "But, that's it. Nothing's left!"

The four of us walked inside and strolled through the rooms like we were prospective buyers at an openhouse. We were shocked. The place looked like a normal house now. It really didn't look that bad now that all the junk was gone.

"Good job, guys," Mike sighed. "Let's get out of these sweaty clothes and meet back in the living room in five minutes."

Suzie had to wake us when the pizza came -- Mike and I had both konked out. When we stumbled into the living room, Suzie had a half-dozen big boxes lined up against the wall.

"Stuff we forgot to sell?" I inquired.

"No, that's the money."

"Huh!" I was wide awake now.

We counted it all. It was mostly singles. Quite a few singles. About $250,000 worth.

Previous | Next