we had a garage sale and it was brutal ... just brutal.
there's a reason i don't like them.
it's because placing a price tag on something that is so much larger than it's simple appearance and then bartering that personal value with knuckleheads, brings out the worst i have to offer.
i have just a few boxes of these dormant life markers—not many by most standards, but enough to have some physical artifacts collected along my journey.
anyway, the time had come to let them go and make them a part of the garage sale.
the difficulty of that decision came to a head with my brown jug.
this jug is not ordinary.
it has been with me since 1975, when i purchased it in an antique barn on a vacation in maine.
as i scraped the candle wax off the neck, i replayed all its importance over and over in my head.
i landed on five dollars, hoping to snag three (as if somehow three dollars was the capitalist value of it's meaning to me).
and there it sat in the warm hand of the sun, the first time in probably twenty-five years i figure, among a cargo bay full of keaton's bric-a-brac.
it was hard to watch—it deserved a table all to itself.
anyway, by mid-day the worst came to bare.
a fella with a heavy mideastern accent approached me with jug in hand.
fella: how much for this jar from stone?
me: well, it's a clay jug. but let's see. oh yeah, the price is right there on that hot pink sticker. looks like five dollars. yeah, five dollars. i bought it in a barn in maine.
fella: it's not new. can you sell to me for a dollar?
me: uh, no. you don't understand. this is an antique. it's probably from some old moonshiner or something, possibly a relic from old man kennedy during prohibition.
fella: it's a brown stone jar. it's used. it has chips here and there. one dollar for such problems.
me: a jug. it's a jug.
fella: ever what it is to be.
me: ya know, when i bought that jug, i had one of the best lobster rolls i ever had. that jug reminds me of that lobster roll. i can give it to you for four dollars.
fella: what is this lobster roll? i do not care of lobster roll. it is jar. brown one. my wife over there thinks it might be good for flower after i paint it yellow to match kitchen wall. i think she is crazy for such a thing but one dollar and it's hers i tell her. she'll be happy, then i'll be happy. and you be happy to get rid of. one dollar for everyone happy. yes?
me: look i could sell that on ebay probably for ten dollars to someone who understands the value of this country's heritage.
fella: or you sell to me for one dollar for hold stupid flowers of plastic.
me: look. that's wax there. it's from a candle that i stuck in it and lit when we lost power during a terrible winter storm that dumped two feet of snow on us. this jug saved my life. i'll make it three dollars but that's it.
fella: okay, okay, okay, i see this means greatness to you. two dollars for life saving jar of light.
that's when keaton came over and placed her hand on my shoulder.
keaton: thanks but no thanks. this brown jug is worth three dollars. every penny.
fella: i will take for two fifty.
keaton: no. three dollars. final offer.
fella: then you have just bought this lobster storming jar back for fifty cents, and no one will be happy.
keaton: he will. (she pointed at me)
so he handed it back to his disappointed wife instructing her in some sort of secret language to put it back among the riff-raff from where she had plucked it.
at day's end, it went back into the box to hibernate another quarter century.
and after everything was said and done, i left a message with my attorney to call me.
i decided to make a few changes to my will, one declaring that my son gets the jug with strict orders that it can't be sold for less than three dollars.
and that pretty much summarizes how the garage sale went.
a lot of amendments to my will that will see my life's accumulation sold at a proper price long after i'm gone.