Sunday, June 7, 2009

Moving, part 2: Big Garage Sale, This Way!

This is a children’s picture-book manuscript. I submitted it to a few publishers, one of which sent a form letter stating that company publishes only five manuscripts out of about 18,000 submissions each year. Ouch. Then an editor at a workshop told me that the jokes would be appreciated more by parents than children, so I didn’t submit the manuscript further. (She was impressed, though, by my non-defensive attitude toward her comments; I told her I’d grown a thick skin while publishing other things.) But anyway … this modest effort still summarizes for me the “fun” of garage sales. We had such a sale yesterday in preparation for our move to St. Louis, and we did get several inquiries about fishing poles.

Big Garage Sale, This Way! by Paul Stroble

Dad said, “Now that the weather’s turning nice, let’s have a garage sale.”

I said, “Why do we have to sell the garage?”

Mom said, “Molly, a garage sale is when you put your old toys and clothes and things you don’t need anymore outside, and people come to buy them. You can share your old things with other people, and make a little extra money besides. If you have something to sell, I promise you can keep the money and buy a new toy or book.”

“How about a book about bugs?”

“Sounds good to me,” said Mom, “if your things sell at the garage sale.”

Mom and Dad found old clothes and stuff to sell. Mom told Dad to get rid of his lava and 8-track tapes. I asked if the lava was from a volcano. Mom had a crock-pot that only worked on “high.” Mom and Dad picked out some of my clothes that I’d outgrown.

I looked through my toy box and found three fuzzy pig dolls that I hadn’t played with for a long time, and a game and some puzzles. I set aside a doll with only one arm. My friend Becky’ St. Bernard dog ate it.

Dad wanted me to sell my favorite bear. “You haven’t played with it for quite a while,” he insisted. I got sad, though. I wanted to keep it a while longer. He said that was okay.

The night before the sale, we carried everything to the garage. Mom and Dad placed round stickers on each item and wrote prices on the stickers. I helped by making signs that read, “Big garage sale, this way!” and “Garage Sale, Saturday, 8 AM till Noon.”

When my alarm clock rang on Saturday morning I was already awake and quickly dressed. Dad and Mom opened the garage door at 7:30 and set up tables. There was already a lady outside.

Dad said, “Ma’am, we don’t start till 8.”

The lady said, “Will you take 50 cents for this pig?”

Mom whispered to me, “When you go to garage sales, you have to start early because the best things get sold quickly!”

Dad strung a long rope from a tree to the house and hung up the old clothes. Mom displayed items on the tables. “I wonder what we’ll sell,” Mom thought out loud.

“Well, for sure some of my old stuff like the lava lamp,” said Dad, “that should be worth a lot to someone. Maybe a few of Molly’s things will sell, too.”

A lady yelled from her car, “Got any tools?”

“No,” called Dad.

People parked in the driveway and on the street. A lady bought a 10-cent box of gym socks.

A man yelled from his car, “Got any fishing poles?”

“No!” called Dad.

“Down the street they’re selling this for a nickel,” said a man to Dad, waving a coffee mug that had “15 cents” taped to it.

“How about this?” I said, holding up a ship made of glued-together seashells. The man was pleased and gave me a quarter, and a nickel to Dad for the cup.

“Got any baseball cards?” asked another lady.

“No baseball cards, but how about some books?” I said.

The lady bought most of the books. She said she had a granddaughter who loves to read.

A man looked at Dad’s lava lamp and set it down. “I used to have one of these,” he said. He didn’t buy it. He did buy one of the pigs.

“Does this run?” a man asked Mom, pointing to the lawn mower.

“It’s not for sale,” Mom said.

The man asked, “Would you take five dollars for it?”

A young woman in old clothes, driving a very big car, came to the garage but only wanted the empty boxes. “I will take these!” she said happily.

“How about some little girl’s dresses?” I said, and the woman bought some. “They’re the right size for my daughter!” she said.

A kid from down the street was listening to a radio and asked, “Got any CDs, dude?”

“No!” said Dad.

Cindy came over with her St. Bernard and she and I pretended we were running a store. The dog looked all around for something to eat. Mom tried to sell the crock-pot to a neighbor but she bought my games and puzzles instead.

“Got any old license plates?” yelled a man from his car.

No!” called Dad.

Many people came by. Then not so many came. At 12 o’clock Mom said, “I think that’s going to be everyone.”

“What did you sell, Dad?” I asked.

“Well, a few things,” he said, putting the lava lamp back in the box.

“How about you, Mom?” I asked.

“Umm, the crock-pot finally went, and a cup,” Mom said. “How about you, kiddo?” she asked.

“Oh, nearly everything! Except for a doll with only one arm. But Cindy said her dog liked it and I told her she could have it.”

“Well, I think Molly did the best today!” said Mom as she and Dad took things down to the basement.

A few days later, I sat outside the house, reading a brand-new book about bugs.

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