For more years than I can remember, we've had a loveseat in our upstairs bedroom.
Why we thought a loveseat in the bedroom was a good idea escapes me.
It was rarely used for sitting. Instead, it became a magnet for my clothes, paperwork, a pile of pillows and a quilt or two.
That's why, a few weeks ago, my wife and I agreed it was time to evict the loveseat, and the most efficient manner to do so would be at a garage sale.
So we spent one hot Saturday in the attic and shed and another in the cool basement gathering long-forgotten 'treasures' we were certain would make garage-sale shoppers cry out in joy, "There it is! Do you know how long I've been looking for that."
All garage-sale entrepreneurs think that too, right?
Last Thursday evening we surveyed our preparations one last time. The tables ringing the garage's interior were loaded with clothes, dishes, pots and pans, records, jewelry and small appliances, and more tables and tubs filled with fishing poles and rusty old golf clubs were lined up for quick positioning to assigned spots along the driveway the next morning.
We were ready ... or so we thought.
"Are you open?"
It was 7:40 Friday morning and two men were standing at the end of my driveway.
We had just moved a table covered with sports gear from a bowling ball to roller blades, bicycling shoes and a ping-pong paddle to its pre-assigned position.
"Sure, come on in," my wife said to them, correctly reasoning that they weren't about to stand there for the next hour and 20 minutes until the 'official' opening time.
Our journey into the world of garage sales had begun, and we would spend two mornings and a good portion of the afternoons sitting in the shade by the driveway or walking around the sales area talking with people and soaking up the knowledge and stories shared by the garage-sale veterans.
Here's what I learned:
There's an unorganized, but bonded core of garage-sales people who look forward to bumping into a familiar face. And there's a constant stream of good-natured kidding and bantering that includes questions about family and friends, and some probing inquiries about the day's finds: "Where have you been?" and "What did you buy?"
People who are regulars on the garage-sale circuit are good at time management because they move from Sale A to Sale B with the least amount of time spent in their cars. There's no criss-crossing on their routes.
Here's the obvious one: garage sales always start earlier than the published time in the newspaper. Someone will show up early hoping to get the first look at what's for sale.
Clothes don't sell at garage sales, regardless of how confident you are that they will.
'Make An Offer' signs set out to cover all items on a table instead of putting a price sticker on each one confuse some shoppers. "There's no sticker on this," a woman said to us. "How much is it?"
"It's make an offer," I said. "What are you willing to pay?"
"I'm uncomfortable doing that ... how much is it?" she demanded.
"How about two dollars," I said, explaining we had grown weary of guessing what to price smaller items.
"Okay," she said, wiping away my exasperation as she handed me the money.
You can't make the price low enough for some people.
Among the many terms you can use to describe garage-sale shoppers my two favorites are the drive-by shoppers who slow down and scan the sale, but never stop, and the walk-by shoppers, who walk in and walk out without saying a word ... but at least they get out of their car.
Getting ready for a garage sale is more work than I ever intend to do again. The sale itself was fun because of all the interesting people we met. Packing up after the sale is a lot of work, too, as we constantly reminded each other, "None of this stuff goes back in the house!"
And I learned my wife and I are becoming a bit forgetful. Late Friday afternoon, as the first day of the garage sale was winding down, it occurred to both of us that the primary reason for having the garage sale - the loveseat - was still in our bedroom. We had forgotten to carry it down.
Fortunately, a young man pulled up in his pickup truck Saturday afternoon, said he'd buy our drop-leaf table and asked if we had any more furniture to sell.
My wife and I looked at each other, trying to stifle our glee.
"Give me 20 bucks and help me carry it down, and it's yours," I said, begging silently to myself, "Please, please, please..."
"It's a deal," he yelled at me as I raced to open the door and evict the loveseat.