I know the beginning of Spring means different things to different people, but for my wife, the start of Spring can only mean two things: gardening, and garage sales. Of the two I much prefer the former, and not just because I love the beautiful flowers that my wife manages to coax out of the ground every year. No, it's more that I've learned over the years to distrust the very notion of garage sales. Their sole purpose seems to be to add clutter into the lives of unsuspecting buyers, clutter that will only be reduced when the buyers themselves have their own garage sales. It's a vicious circle, no more, no less.
Of course, my wife thinks differently, and to her credit, she has been able to make some pretty handsome scores at various garage sales over the years. The desk in my study, for instance: a garage sale steal at $35. So I can't say that it's been an entirely fruitless activity. And I guess I should probably just admit that my personal vendetta against garage sales in based on a single "garage sale incident" that happened a few years ago, an incident that turned out to be one of the more embarrassing moments in the history of my marriage.
What happened was this: after our youngest daughter left for college, my wife and I discovered that we had all this extra time to fill. We thought it was going to be this wonderful, frivolous time where we got to do everything we hadn't been able to in twenty years, but the fact was, suddenly we didn't know what to do with ourselves. Anyway, one Saturday, after going out for breakfast, my wife asked if we could hit a local garage sale. Sure, I said, and we went, and it wasn't bad. Not my idea of a great time, but my wife seemed to enjoy, so I went along.
Little did I know, though, that suddenly "garage-saling" became a Saturday morning ritual. After breakfast, I'd dutifully drive to the sale my wife had doped out from the newspaper, and we'd kill an hour or two looking at stuff that I had zero interest in. Four of five weekends in a row, that first autumn, and then back at it in the Spring.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my wife, but garage sales get pretty old pretty quickly. Same stuff, different garage. I discovered that this wasn't exactly the way I wanted to be spending all my Saturdays. Apparently, some of this most have come across to my wife, for a few weeks after the first Spring garage sale, I asked my wife, timidly, if she wouldn't mind if I played golf with a buddy on the following Saturday, instead of accompanying her to that week's garage sale.
"Thank God," she said.
"I've been waiting for you to say that."
Turns out, she knew that I hated going to the garage sales. "Look, honey, I know you're trying to be a good sport, but frankly I'd have a lot more fun if you weren't there."
"Why didn't you tell me!" I cried.
"Because I thought you were an adult," she said, slowly, "and could speak for yourself." And of course there was no answer to that.
Well! After my initial flush of embarrassment, I discovered that I now had all those Saturday mornings to myself. And I discovered that suddenly it was easy to fill the time. I'd play golf, or tennis, or go down to the pool and do some exercises for my knee. Some days I'd just sit on the back porch and fiddle with the new shortwave radio, one that I bought, mortifyingly enough, at an estate sale with my wife. (An "estate sale," by the way, is a garage sale in a higher tax bracket.) I still got to spend time with my wife, but now it was doing things I really liked--like dinner, concerts at the Philharmonic, catching new plays at the Playhouse.
I came out of the whole "garage sale" debacle with a mildly bruised ego and a bit of hard-earned wisdom, as well. I think I learned, once again, that honesty is, indeed, the best policy. Even in a marriage.
Until Next Week,