Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Diseased Dora

I love garage sales.

My heart always thumps excitedly as I approach one and my mind starts to race on what treasures I might find.

Cheap books?

Cheap furniture?

Cheap Gymboree?

Last weekend was the base wide garage sale. It meant that a lot of houses were having sales and I was thrilled. I had planned to only go to the ones around the house so that I could walk. I mean, shopping and exercise? What can be better than that? Dr. Phil would be so proud of me! He’s always talking about trying to get exercise in when you can because this nation is going through an obesity epidemic and blah blah blah.....

I put Natalie in her stroller and reminded Tommy to stay beside me as we walked. We headed for the first garage sale and I nearly had a heart attack when a kid leaped out from behind a bookshelf.

“HI!” he shrieked.

I swallowed back my scream as the kid’s mother chastised him before going back to her magazine with Jon and Kate on the cover.

Then her kid decided that he’d be my personal shopper and kept handing me stuff.

“You can buy these. They’re my old shoes,” he said, shoving a pair of disgusting looking shoes in my arms. Seriously, they were caked in mud and the price tag said $6. Six bucks for disgusting shoes? I think not. I politely set them back down as the kid handed me a book on pottery.

I don’t do pottery.

Actually, upon gazing around the garage sale I realized that there was nothing there that I liked. It was basically a bunch of old stuff that looked as though it should really be tossed in the trash. I mean, I flipped through a book on royalty and a few pages were missing.

“Buy this!” the kid demanded and waved a toy that emitted high pitched music noises when you pressed a button.

No way. For my sanity, no way.

I was wondering if the kid’s Mom was going to tell her kid to leave me alone. I was two seconds away from telling him myself. But the Mom kept flipping through a magazine. I suppose the lives of Jon and Kate are fascinating to some.

I left a few minutes later. The kid was practically throwing stuff at me as I quickly walked away.

“But you didn’t buy anything!” he was yelling. Then he noticed another customer approaching and leaped in front of her.

“HI! BUY THESE!” he shrieked shoving stained socks in her face as she yelped.

I headed for the next sale and hoped that I’d find something of interest. There was a guy sitting on a lawn chair and he just stared as I started browsing. It was making me a little uncomfortable, to be honest. I hate looking at a yard sale when no one else is around. The guy continued to watch me as though he were worried I’d steal something.

But there was nothing to steal.

It was all crap again. There were old looking clothes and a few broken toys and a TV that I can almost bet didn’t even work.

I was starting to get frustrated. Where was all the good stuff? I came upon another sale and from a distance it looked as though it could be promising. There were a bunch of colorful objects scattered around and surely colorful objects meant good things, right?


The colorful objects were all falling apart.

And there was this big black thing that I think went to a car but I’m not sure.

I was starting to get tired and I was tempted to turn around and head home. Obviously no one was selling anything good. But then I noticed there was a sale a few houses down that had a bunch of cars parked around it.


Crowds have to mean good stuff!

I quickened my pace and rushed over there. I always start to panic that someone will buy the one thing I want right before I get there.

By the time I made it to the sale I was gasping for breath. As I was leaning over trying to breathe properly, I noticed a large sign in front of the yard.

All proceeds go to breast cancer research!

Wonderful! I can shop and do a good deed all in one.

“Dora!” Natalie suddenly said from the stroller. She pointed to a box full of toys. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the Dora she was talking about.

It looked diseased.

I’m not kidding.

The hair was discolored and the nose looked like it was about to come off and I didn’t want to even THINK about how many germs were crawling around on it.

“DORA!” Natalie said again.


I started to think.

Well, I can get the diseased Dora since it’s for a good cause and all…but ew, what if Natalie gets sick? There’s some STAIN on Dora’s ear that’s brown and…oh my God, I don’t even want to KNOW what it is…

“Darling, how about we find something else?” I asked brightly, wheeling the stroller to the other side of the sale.

“DORA!” Natalie practically leaped out of her stroller. I caught her just in time.

“Let’s find another Dora toy,” I said quickly. “Tommy, could you help us find another Dora toy?”

Tommy waved a puzzle of the United States under my nose. “Only if I can get this.”

Oh for---punks! I have punks as children! But at least it was a puzzle and it was educational…I mean, grown adults don’t even know where Montana is and my kid will after he puts the puzzle together.

“Fine,” I said as Natalie started flailing. I was really hoping she wasn’t going to knee me in the gut again.

“Found a Dora book!” Tommy called out, pulling a book from a box.

“Dora!” Natalie said sweetly, holding her arms out.

And bonus, the book was only fifty cents.

My total came to $1.50 but I gave the woman a $5 since the money went to a good cause. Plus I felt that if I didn’t give more than God would certainly smite me or something. And I can’t afford to be smitted since I’m doing this parenting thing on my own at the moment.

We went to sale after sale. Sweat was starting to drip off my brow and one lady offered me some water. I think she was worried I was going to pass out on her lawn and then she’d have to cover me up with a blanket and pretend there wasn’t a comatose woman on her yard.

I kept hoping to find something exciting but I never did. I did see some good things but they were overpriced. I always assumed garage sales meant that people wanted to get RID of stuff. But when I found some Gymboree shoes the woman wanted $10 for them and they were quite worn.

When I went to my final yard sale I figured I could try bartering. Women are always bartering on The Today Show and saying that more people ought to do it to save some money in this troubling economy.

The problem is, I’m awful at bartering. I think I’m too polite. I always worry about insulting someone.

Still, I figured I could give it a try. What’s the harm in asking?

I found a Blue’s Clues toy and I asked how much it was.

“Five bucks,” the woman said.

Five BUCKS? For a USED toy that was only a little bigger than my hand? No way.

Amber. It’s time to barter. Just speak smoothly and pretend like your barter every day.

I lifted my chin up and tried to look all regal. Because for some reason, I had it in my mind that people who barter look regal.

“I’ll give you three dollars for it,” I said in what I hoped was a firm voice.

The woman looked taken aback.

“If that’s okay,” I quickly added because she looked as though she were about to slap me or something.

See, like I said, I’m too polite for bartering. I bet the professional barters would have remained regal and would have had a stare down with the woman and said something like, “If I can’t get this toy for three dollars than I’m moving on…”

“I can go down to four bucks,” the woman finally said.

“Fine,” I replied meekly and handed over some bills.

I wish I had a professional barterer as a friend. I’d have brought her with me. SHE probably would have gotten the toy for three bucks. Maybe even two because she’d be so good at what she does.

I think I need to add that to my list of Stuff I Need To Do Before I Die.

Find a friend that is a good barterer....


  1. Oh my gosh I loved your post!! I'm obsessed with garage sales! It's such a competition and I love it! Too bad you live so far away, we could garage sale and I could be your barterer!! Thanks for the laughs...come on over to my blog anytime!

  2. I love going to garage sales, too - but I can't barter either! I always feel like the person is going to get pissed at me, like I might as well walk up to them and say, "Your stuff isn't worth as much as you think it is." LOL!

  3. teehehehe I'm glad you left that diseased Dora behind. One year my community was having its annual garage sale... it was a new community, mind you... just built in 2004 and it was all nice and everything... and one of the newest houses had everything they owned on the driveway. Upon inspection, I realized that this family was only selling PORN. Selling PORN in a neighborhood full of children? Oh I was pissed!

  4. lol. i can always get a good laugh from your posts. i love garage sales but i don't like people [and kids...not all kids...but a lot lmao] and that doesn't always go well together. also, very bad at bartering. i am too polite, i think to mask my secret thoughts of annoyance & eye-rolling. oh i sound awful! ;)

  5. I love the idea of garage sales but we never have any in walking distance I can't imagine loading and unloading my boys over and over again.

    I hate bartering...but I'm usually doing it in a foreign country with a language barrier...no fun!

  6. Going to yard sales is one of our weekend traditions all summer long. I love 'em!

    Like you, I get so incredibly excited anticipating all the good stuff I will find that day. And I can barter too!

    What I can't stand is people who try to recoup their money while selling USED items. It bugs me to no end when they put a $4 price tag on a GAP tee for a toddler boy when I just bought a Ralph Lauren toddler sweatshirt for a buck at the last one.

  7. I live in India. Thus I'm a professional barter. I've had Indian market-wallahs weeping. I'll teach you girl.....

  8. I have had friends who are good barterers. I am not and don't think I ever will be. Buying a car gives me conniptions.

  9. I'm terrible at bartering too ... on both sides of the coin. When I had a garage sale, I had concerned people coming up and telling me that other people were taking advantage of me and I was just "giving stuff away" too cheap. The prices just sound outrageous! I believe a good garage sale should have no price higher than $3.00. Anything that should cost more should be sold on eBay. And you should never sell broken stuff. That is just not right.

  10. I'm having a yard sale this weekend. After the passing of my MIL and my gma, I have a lot of dolls and figurines that I'll be putting $3.00 on that are probably worth a lot more. Come on over! lol

  11. I don't get the whole garage sale thing. I just do the ebay thing. Then I can barter and not have to talk to anyone or have people watch me shop. I hate that too.

  12. ive met your professional barterer. she came to my garage sale, she had a couple of candle stick, cute as all get out but not my decor anymore, and i just wanted to get rid of stuff. so i said 50 cents, she said "ill give you a quarter for them if you throw in this frog nicknack" i started to LAUGH, GUFAW AND HOWL! I said
    'honey if 50 cents is too much for you just take it!" and she firmly pressed a quarter in my hand and stomped away!

    i love garage sales too, but rarely have luck. its all junk like you said, ugh i have my own piles of yuck, i really dont need to add to them.

  13. I very rarely go to garage sales, though I know I should. My friends are always finding such great things but I'm always afraid if I stop at one with my kids in tow I'll end up broke afterwards.

    I just love your blog! Your storytelling abilities are so humorous!!!

  14. I could have written this myself after my last community garage sale experience. I don't know how people expect to sell overpriced children's items when they can't even clean the food and snot off of them!

  15. I can just picture you daughter yelling out Dora over and over.

    This all reminds me that I need to organize a garage sale of my own. I have lots of crap to get rid of! :0)

  16. I love garage sales. Sometimes, there's nothing but absolute junk, but some days you can find exactly what you didn't even know you were looking for. It's an adventure! Plus, people are always trying to sell books, and I stock my classroom library with tons of inexpensive, fairly recent books that way.

  17. I'm not a good barter either, much better to bring one with you. I always feel quilty.

  18. I need to toughen you up!! You gave her extra $$$ for her good cause?? REALLY!! Naive!!

    I might try this ploy next garage sale that I have - not really. I say awful things but never do them. Others - do awful things and say they are not doing them!!!!

    I am always surprised at what people try to sell for $$. Just trash!!

    I will also toughen you up with bartering!! I am a pro and getting a really fair price.

  19. I blogged about my garage sale-ing, too, but not as well as you. The one I found I didn't even bother bartering because she had such awful prices.

    I would have said, nah, $3 or nothing!

    And, I'm glad you left diseased Dora.

  20. I'm good at haggling/bartering. I think I got from my mom.

    Although at first, I thought I couldn't do it. I'm too polite and shy.

    It came to good use when I went to Kuala Lumpur and shopped at Chinatown. Man, bartering sometimes is like a sport. :)


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