I woke up this morning hungover. Nope. Scratch that. I woke up this morning drunk. I didn’t get the hangover till mid-day when apparently the being drunk part wore off. Also, I have the drinking experience of a fourteen-year-old girl. Which means I have the tolerance and knowledge of a seventh grader sneaking vodka from her parents’ liquor cabinet. A quarter of the way into one Moscow Mule and I was dancing at the bar like a drunk sorority girl during pledge week.
It wasn’t that I drank a lot for a seasoned adult beverage drinker, but the old cliche of what happens when you drink with no food in your system, took flight as I celebrated my birthday with friends at a local pub resembling Hogwart’s School For Wizards. Dancing around the fireplaces with my Mule in tow, I was feeling pretty swell. It was the mindless shot of Tequila at the end of the night that made me feel like I was traveling through a time warp with no seatbelt. What do they call alcohol again? Liquid regret? This morning, however, when I woke, I felt surprisingly peppy. Then the drunkeness settled into phase two, and I began to reap the rewards of my big-girl hangover.
Yes, I felt unusually nauseous, but I didn’t want to lose the entire day to moping around feeling sorry for myself with this affliction as old as the invention of the goblet. Plus my mom was visiting and it was a friend’s birthday and I needed to step up and be there for them. Tossing back a fistful of Rolaids, we embarked on a morning of going to nearby garage sales to rummage around. Who knows, maybe we could haggle for sport. I knew it would help me take my mind off my wobbly stomach shopping for used tchotchkes. There’s nothing like scoring a fifty-cent unicorn figurine or a Betamax tape of Big Trouble In Little China to make you feel like you’re winning the game of life. Or on occasion, finding an original board game version of the Game Of Life. My friends, that’s double happiness.
Resting in the back seat of my own car I chugged alternate sips of electrolyte water and chamomile tea before we headed into the first address on our list, advertising “like new” furniture with “deep discounts”. I should have known the word “deep” would mean a checkered and/or red flag. Does the word “deep” ever have a respectable implication?
I called the number on the posting and a woman who introduced herself as Naia met us at the front door of a high rise complex. Apparently, this yard sale was taking place in her condo. Up four flights of stairs I hobbled.
“We are getting rid of everything we own”, she says to us as she opens the front door. Inside we are hit with the smell of fried fish, onions and what I think might be bananas. I have not yet thrown up today but I have high hopes it might be in my near future. Sprawled out on the couch is a large man dressed from head-to-toe in LA Raiders gear cheering to a five-hundred-foot screen TV as a football game blares on. Ok, I don’t know how the measurements work on televisions because I’ve never owned one as an adult, but suffice it to say this screen was the size of a flatbed truck.
The fella was covered in some sort of fuzzy blankie and plowing through his portion of the bananas fish fricassee. At our heels barked a miniature schnauzer named, Shark Face. Stuck to virtually everything in the apartment were yellow post-it notes. Naia explained to us the price was half what they paid for everything and we should feel free to look around. Meanwhile, another man approached us and talking loudly over the crowd noise of a pass interference play, he introduced himself as her husband, Gary. He was very friendly and began to explain it was complicated why they were selling everything they owned and they were merely, “simplifying their situation”. I immediately thought they were moving into one of those “tiny houses” the size of a tool shed and were doing that whole, eco-friendly living existence thing. My mom later found out from Snacking Raiders Guy they were getting a divorce. I’m not sure when she found this out, but she’s always making fast friends. Good job doing reconnaissance, Ma.
Naia led my friend Wendy and me into a bedroom where clothes were piled in every corner as she pointed around telling us it was an almost brand new bedroom set. How long had they been married? Wendy and I nodded to each other as though we were seriously considering what a good deal it was. We had no interest in actually purchasing anything. And even if we did, we couldn’t see the bed set through the mountain range of laundry. Still, why we felt the need to act normal, I’m not sure. She walked us into the second bedroom, where, we saw a man lying in the bed. He introduced himself as Gary and said we could take the bed he was in, as soon as immediately. I blurted out, “I’m not gonna lie guys. It’s a little weird to be in your house while you’re clearly napping. And… other stuff.” I trailed off because again, I didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. So I stopped shy of saying, “Two Garys, really? Do you pronounce one, Gar-eee, and the other, Gar-ay?”
They didn’t seem phased by my observation and Naia continued to point to sticky notes on different objects. “We also have the patio set outside for sale.” More eager nodding from Wendy and I as we continued to play along.
“That’s a fun chair,” Wendy commented on a white leather chair six inches from the ground and what looked like a dog bed for people.
“It was $600 but I’ll sell it to you for $450,” Naia bragged.
Wendy and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows murmuring, “Oh that’s a good deal!” Clearly, this woman didn’t understand what a garage sale was. Where were my tchokties? Where were my Troll dolls and beat up lampshades?
Exiting the bedroom I glanced in the bathroom to notice a bucket full of what I could have sworn was shaving cream. Who uses a bucket? And how much hair do they need to remove?
Back in the living room, I was hoping we could wrap things up soon, as my tummy was speaking loudly to me. Listen, Storey, if we don’t get out of this onion room soon, you’re going to be face to face with that bucket. I tried to get Wendy’s attention to give her the look that said, I really need to go right this minute before I explode. But she was transfixed on a half dozen sparkly glass figurines in the shape of baby heads sitting on the coffee table. “Those are pretty”, she pointed. To which Husband Gary replied, “My mom gave me those. They are from Miami.”
“Oh, is your family ok now after the hurricane?” I was swaying gently from side to side as beads of sweat were forming on my upper lip.
“Yes, she’s fine. Nothing’s going to kill that woman, unfortunately.” An awkward silence followed while I wondered who this guy disliked more; his mother or his soon to be ex-wife. He turned to Naia and asked, “Do you want these?”
Naia responded, “I have no connection to them. Actually, I hate them.”
Gary kind of stammered as he searched for a price to put on them. But Wendy cut in, “No, no I was just complimenting them!” He seemed relieved, although I’m not sure why he cared about the little figurines so much, considering he didn’t seem to care if his mom was swept away by a torrential act of nature.
My nausea was coming in quicker waves. I looked over to see my Mom had befriended the football fan and was in deep conversation on early season stats. “I think that Siemian is going to surprise everyone and take them all the way. But I disagree with the special team’s line-up this year.” My mom was on fire. Given a few more minutes, she could have talked this guy into giving up his Raider jersey and his lunch. She then told him whatever he was eating smelled delicious. Worth noting: My mom has the appetite of an NFL linebacker. Fish nor foul nor leather boots sauteed in garlic. My mom can eat it all. Good for you Ma. Good for you.
Bedroom Gary wandered in asking if we’d like to try the bed, as he’d made it up special for us. The banana aroma was wafting in stronger now and I couldn’t help but think, what recipe calls for fish and bananas?
I turned to Gar-ray, Gar-eee, and Naia and told them I was going to have to think about it. Husband Gary kept rambling on about the deep discount he could provide us and Naia was waving her hands in the air gesturing for him to wrap it up. “Gary, they want to think about it. You never listen. Ever. Except to your mother.” She knew we wanted to leave and she was growing bored with him. In that moment I imagined the Bedroom Gary hiding under the covers nightly, rocking back and forth whispering, “Make it stop!”
Once we’d left the building and were back out on the sidewalk, the three of us discussed the encounter. My mom felt she’d almost converted her new friend to becoming a Bronco fan if only she’d been given a little more time. Wendy kept bringing up the bucket. Feeling a tightness in my jaw, and smelling the residual aroma lingering in my hair, I began to drool. I thought I’m going to vomit soon, so best get out of my way if you stand between me and any toilet. They both laughed at me and insisted eating would actually make me feel better. Bragging about their extensive experiences of being hungover, I decided to trust them and agreed to grab a quick bite at a nearby French bakery. Long story short, Croque Monsieur is great going down, until it’s not. So let’s just say, things happened. Since then, I’ve spent the remainder of the day in bed trying to hydrate and not think of Croque or Monsieur.
Laying in bed, I thought about the soon-to no-longer-be couple’s situation. While it was batshit weird, it got me considering how much I’d love a new couch. Or even a new, used couch. So I began looking online at couches with the same kind of longing I have for stray dogs. But since I presently have about seven dollars to spend on new furniture, my best bet was to troll around on Craig’s list to see if I could score something free. Plus, the distraction kept me from thinking about my grumpy stomach.
While on this journey to find a free couch, I discovered a collection of fantastic and arbitrary things people were choosing to give away. For example, this fine piece:
This is called a “free beautiful couch”, which means either it’s a couch for skinny giants and the scale of this photo is super jacked, or I did not learn the proper definition of what a couch is. I see, at best, half a chair. And not to sound picky, but I feel like calling this “beautiful” might be a touch of an overstatement. Kind of like when your wife accidentally cuts her own bangs two inches too short and you tell her, “No honey your forehead doesn’t look like a pinata. You’re still beautiful to me.”
Then I came across this gem.
If you can’t read the lettering, beneath the R.I.P. it says, “Some come to sit and think, we have come to rot and stink.” I simply cannot think of what I’d love more than these fine words resting above my head every night. Not to mention the lovely faces of the individuals on either side of this masterful poem.
I mean, this guy is dreamy.
And she’s, what can I say? A vision.
Then I discovered this ingenious invention.
I’m still trying to figure out what makes this pillow “multifunctional”. As I looked at the picture, I just kept asking myself, “Isn’t that what a pillow does? You can lay your head on one corner, or in the middle, or get really fancy and even fold it in half. But I’m not sure this is an effective marketing tool. Unless I’ve been thinking about pillows all wrong. How many different functions does a pillow have? There’s its use under your head, your feet, and maybe your elbow when you’re feeling a strain from arm wrestling. Of course, with enough force, you could smash a fly, break a flower, knock out a small child or heck, even smother your wife who won’t shut up about how much she hates your baby head figurines. Ok, ok. Now I see its multifunctionality. Plus, the person selling it is going to UCLA, so perhaps this pillow can also build a supercomputer.
The amazing items didn’t stop there.
There’s the guy who’s in love with his big glass, but for reasons we may never know, has got to give it away.
Coincidentally I feel like I may know this person. Cousin? Is that you?
Then there’s the stuff that the giver even knows is crap. But still, wants to give it away.
I mean, this guy had me at, “busted.” What’s not to love?
Or these things:
Three. There are three of these. This person is giving away three. They were also detail-oriented enough to take four pictures of these three tags. I feel like this person might not be using their talents to the fullest.
But my favorite item I found today was a free bag of artificial sweetener.
I was so goddamned excited about this listing, I had to write this person. I mean, I had so many questions! What kinds of sweetener? How much was there? And …why the holey hell would you want to take time out of your life to collect them, post an ad and give them away to a stranger?
Here is our conversation. Remember, I’m probably still a little drunk.
What I really wanted to do was ask him, Why? Why? Why are you doing this? But that might scare him off. So the better idea it seemed to me (drunk-ish) was to seriously inquire about it.
When I picture Sweet N’ Low Guy and Plastic Name Tag Guy and how they spent their day, I don’t feel quite so crappy about my Sunday afternoon endeavors. And if I think about Gar-eee and Naia and how the rest of their day panned out, I bet it wasn’t much better than mine. Plus they had to endure each other’s fishy onion breath.
Last night I got to celebrate with friends and family who I love and who were mildly entertained by my novice attempt at getting drunk. With no judgment, they danced with me, celebrated my day and allowed me to be ridiculous. So who am I to question the choices of some guy in Reseda who wants to give away mismatched socks or imitation tree-stump shaped chairs or this thing:
Look at that guy. Even with half his face blacked out, you can still tell he’s happy. And nice gams buddy. Looks like that machine’s doing right by you. But watch out for your underpinnings area, you’re awfully close to a wardrobe malfunction.
I guess my takeaway from my post-hangover stupor is this: it’s Sunday. I’m celebrating the day after my birthday as a mostly sober curmudgeon. Others are celebrating by giving away stuff for sport. Far be it from me to judge today or any day what brings another person happiness. Someone’s going to appreciate that Sweet N’ Low Guy for his twelve packets and so I say, good on you guy. Good on you.